Spruill Happy with Progress of Defense

Marquis Spruill and the Syracuse defense has been getting better each week. The run defense has been especially stingy, yielding only 35 yards per game in Big East play. Spruill talks to CuseNation.com about the evolution of the defense throughout the year.

With the offense finally putting together a solid performance against UConn, the defense continued plugging along as a dominant unit. The Orange defense has been concentrating on stopping the run, and that has translated into its three best performances of the year. Marquis Spruill spoke to CuseNation.com about that and trying to stop B.J. Daniels.

It's very important to build on this," Spruill said. "We've got to keep this up, this little win streak we've got going. It helps with the confidence of the team. It helps with us staying hungry to get more victories, get bowl eligible."

If the Orange are to pull out a win this week, they must stop South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels. Spruill knows that will be a big challenge for the Syracuse defense.

"He's a mobile quarterback," Spruill explained. "He's been there for what, four years or something? He's very good. He throws the ball well and he can run. He can make plays with his feet. We're looking forward to the challenge.

"How we practice does a lot. We have John Kinder who plays B.J. and he's a very mobile kind of guy. So it just helps getting used to him moving around a lot. We just have to play our game as a defense. Be focused and disciplined and we should be just fine."

The Syracuse defense focused on creating turnovers last week against Connecticut. That focus translated into the game, as they forced two turnovers and nearly had a few more. The Orange will continue to focus on turnovers as they venture into enemy territory.

"It has been an important emphasis," Spruill detailed. "At first it was just about 3-and-out, 3-and-out. Now, we have to get the offense back the ball. Let them put points on the board, and just go from there."

The offense put up a lot of points against Connecticut. It allowed the defense to have some breathing room. Despite that, Spruill says they can't relax even when they have a cushion on the scoreboard.

"It's great to build a lead like that," he said. "But from a defensive standpoint, you can't really let up because they will come back and who knows what will happen after that. Just like Coach Shafer says, we get up and put the dagger in them. We just keep playing our defense."

The Syracuse defense dialed up quite a few blitzes against the Huskies last week. The Orange could look to do the same against the Bulls. However, Spruill says, that is a decision for defensive coordinator Scott Shafer.

"We have the same stuff since we've started," he explained. "Maybe a little tweak here and there. Whatever Coach Shafer wants to do, we will do. We're ready and willing. I haven't blitzed as much as I did my first two years here. But I'm fine. Whatever I can do to help the team get wins is OK with me."

Run defense has been a major focus for the defense this season, especially since entering Big East play. In three conference games, the Orange have yielded a total of 106 rushing yards, or 35.3 yards per game. That focus will continue this week against South Florida.

"That's our philosophy," Spruill declared. "Our first goal for anything we do is to stop the run. We work on that first. We work hard to stop the run. We've had a couple plays with extra defensive linemen. But our mindset is to always stop the run first."

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