Brandon Sharpe received most of the accolades for Syracuse's dominant defensive line performance against Pittsburgh. That is understandable considering he had four sacks and six tackles for loss. Lost in Sharpe's performance was Jay Bromley, who just as dominant without the numbers.
If you look at Jay Bromley's stat line, it's not overly impressive. Two tackles, including one for loss. No sacks, no forced fumbles, not even a quarterback hurry. Yet his performance was finally up the caliber he set in previous years.
Finally, Bromley was playing on the Pittsburgh line of scrimmage. One of the main reasons the Panther running game was so ineffective against the Orange was the play of Bromley. The interior of the Pitt offensive line could not block him. And although he often did not make the tackle, he forced the play back into help.
Even double teams were ineffective, as he exploded off the ball all game, and shoved the Pitt linemen into the backfield.
Take Pitt's first play from scrimmage for example. Bromley shoves the Pitt guard to the side at the line of scrimmage, filling Ray Graham's cut back lane. So when Graham cuts back, he has nowhere to go. The Orange swarmed to the ball and stopped Graham for no gain.
On Pitt's second possession, they had the ball near midfield. They ran a delayed draw that Bromley blew up. As soon as the ball was snapped, he exploded out of his stance, engaged the guard, and drove him backwards three yards. By the time Sunseri handed the ball to Graham, Bromley was on top of him and made the top for a loss.
Those two plays show the type of impact Bromley had. He disrupted the flow of the Pittsburgh running game by forcing the Pitt lineman deep into their backfield.
In the first four games, Bromley had been a disappointment. That type of penetration and disruption was not happening. He was disappearing on the field, and appeared to have regressed from his first two seasons. However, he took a giant step forward against Pitt.
Said defensive line coach Tim Daoust after the game, "Jay Brom I thought did a fine job…played a lot on their side of the line of scrimmage. That kid is as hard a worker as you're gonna find in college football. I love being around that kid. Jay had that ankle that I believe, he won't tell me, but I know there's something there to it. But he will not tell me, and he tells me everything.
"I'm extremely proud of Jay. That bye week helped him. I think the evolution of other guys around him has helped him because Jay doesn't have to take all of the reps anymore. You see a lot of movement in there."
The Orange will need Bromley to continue playing with that type of strength and aggression. The upcoming schedule shows two straight physical running teams in Rutgers and Connecticut on the horizon. If Syracuse gets this type of play from Bromley, it could lead to more defensive performances like we saw against Pittsburgh.
CuseNation.com's Dan Tortora contributed to this report