Despite losing their fourth game in six attempts, the defensive unit has been consistently improving. They continue to lessen the productivity of their adversaries in an attempt to jumpstart their season and move in the positive direction. In their second Big East Conference contest of the season, the evolving defensive squad lined up against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Against the pass. The Syracuse secondary struggled going up against the length of the Rutgers' receivers. Even on balls that were overthrown, players like Brandon Coleman and Mark Harrison still got their fingertips on the ball, being a step ahead of the Orange more often than not.
In coverage, each of the corners struggled, with Rutgers' quarterback Gary Nova finding gaps numerous times. However, though gaps led to receptions which led to red zone opportunities, the Orange only gave up one passing touchdown.
Against the run. Rutgers came into the game with the leading ground-gainer in the Big East Conference. Running back Jawan Jamison entered the contest with Syracuse with 601 yards. He had achieved more than 100 rushing yards in each of the five games the Scarlet Knights played this season.
Despite an early touchdown allowed to Jamison on the ground in this match, Syracuse became the first team to not allow him 100 yards. Jamison finished with 64 yards on 28 carries. The week before, UConn, against the same amount of carries by Jamison, gave up 110 yards.
Jamison had one good run for 12 yards. Outside of that, the Orange run defense forced him to get his yardage in small pieces, locking him up more often than not close to the line of scrimmage.
After allowing almost 200 rushing yards per game to start the season, Syracuse has been evolving into a hard-nosed unit that can and has sniffed out rushing attacks.
Overall. The defense is condensing the output of their opposition, forcing teams to beat the Orange with less points. In this match, Syracuse prevented scores on 10 of Rutgers' 13 opportunities. The Orange defensive stance resulted in four punts to one touchdown by the Scarlet Knights in the first half.
In the second half, Syracuse's defense forced Rutgers into four punts and a turnover on downs, allowing one touchdown and a field goal in the final two quarters. Although they gave up 10 points in the second half, Rutgers' field goal came when the Orange refused to allow a touchdown with the Scarlet Knights threatening in the red zone.
Eight punts and a turnover on downs, with only one rushing and one passing touchdown allowed, sounds like a productive outing. But, the defense's toughest opponent in this game and for the last few weeks has not been setting up on the opposite side. Their biggest adversary has been wearing the same jersey as them, as the offense continues to lose games for the Orange.