On The Line With Markus Pierce-Brewster

Starting defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster has had a good start to the season. As he looks to improve, the Orange are looking to even their record against Minnesota. CuseNation spoke with Pierce-Brewster as he prepares for the Gophers.

Syracuse Orange defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster, like defensive tackle Deon Goggins, came to the program after playing junior college football in California.

Unlike Goggins, this season is Pierce-Brewster's first experiencing the NCAA Division I football level.

So far, the defensive newcomer has 10 tackles in three games. In each game, Pierce-Brewster has aided the Syracuse defense in utilizing tackles to push the opposing offense backward.

He came out in his debut as a member of the Orange with a hit on Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter that led to a fumble recovery by Syracuse.

When asked how he has been able to get involved so much early on in the pass rush, Pierce-Brewster took the credit away from himself and placed it on his fellow linemen. "If anything, it's just scheme. Being in the right place at the right time," said Pierce-Brewster. "If one of the D-linemen's getting through, that means that three other guys are doing their jobs."

As far as how he has handled the jump from junior college football to highest tier of collegiate football competition, Pierce-Brewster responded, "I know sometimes I get a little hard on myself. I don't want to say take this too seriously, but I have a tendency to just get wrapped up [technically] and just making [sure] I'm doing what I'm supposed to do instead of being in the…Division I football experience."

"As far as technique is involved, those guys (defensive end Brandon Sharpe and defensive tackles Goggins and Jay Bromley), they're almost the exact same way," Pierce-Brewster continued. "They don't like messing up. They're probably more frustrated than me when they make a mistake because they've been here longer. They know what they need to do so they've kinda reiterated what I've always felt."

Syracuse wide receivers' coach Rob Moore spoke before the game about having players on the team that love the game because when you do not have that, it is easy to find excuses why not to play. Pierce-Brewster expressed that the love for the game extends to the other side of the ball with his fellow linemen on the defense. "One thing [they taught me] was just to enjoy it. They haven't really come to me and approached me and said that, but I can just tell from their demeanor. They really enjoy this."

Speaking of teaching, Pierce-Brewster is in his first season as a student under Syracuse defensive line coach Tim Daoust, of whom he defined in these words: "He isn't too atypical to what you would expect as a coach, but he is slightly different as a D-line coach," shared Pierce-Brewster. "From what I've seen, he's more energetic, he's more hands-on. Every coach has their own teaching philosophy and I like Coach Daoust's. It's different from what I've had before and it's one of the reasons why I wanted to come here, ‘cause it's just [a] different environment, different philosophy as far as a defensive mentality."

Keeping with mentality, Pierce-Brewster spoke on how Daoust has helped him personally to become a better player. "Just a technical aspect, getting my hands right, getting my eyes right," said Pierce-Brewster. "I see Coach Daoust every day in between classes, whether it's 10-15 minutes, [to] go through plays, go through schemes. So he's really helped me with the mental part of the game as far as when we're not on the field."

During games, Pierce-Brewster expressed that Daoust is not too far from what he assumes would come out of a coach. "…On the field, it's what you would expect. [A] bunch of yelling. [A] bunch of drills. It's not too dissimilar."

Both on and off the field, Daoust, in his upgrade from defensive ends' coach to handling the entire defensive line this season, has worked to prepare Pierce-Brewster and the rest of the line to face quarterbacks of various talents.

Eyeing Syracuse's upcoming opponent, Pierce-Brewster discussed Minnesota's quarterback Max Shortell. "Well first off, I want to say, this dude can run the ball," shared Pierce-Brewster. "I don't think you should label him as just a drop back passer. He'll tuck it and run." Shortell has had a rushing play of more than 10 yards in both of the Golden Gophers' last two matches.

Facing a quarterback in Shortell who can both pass and run has been a difficult obstacle for the Orange to overcome this season, struggling and losing to Northwestern who had a dual threat in Colter.

As far as what type of quarterback he is more comfortable covering, be it a pocket passer or dual threat, Pierce-Brewster said, "I don't think I've really found a niche at doing both great yet. It probably [would] be whatever I end up really breaking out doing, but I like to drop back in coverage if I had to choose one. It's kinda fun for me."

With Shortell coming off a three touchdown performance through the air en route to a victory, it is likely that Pierce-Brewster will get his chance to drop back in coverage as he continues to work on strengthening the Orange defense.

Pierce-Brewster will join Syracuse in their quest to break even at 2-2, as they fight for their second win of the season before their bye week. The action starts tonight at 8pm Eastern when the Orange take on their fourth opponent of the season, the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

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