After Syracuse was blown out at Northwestern in week two, the Orange defense could have easily lost confidence with an 0-2 start. But senior leader Marquis Spruill wouldn't let that happen. He looked at the rough performance as a blessing in disguise.
"I think Northwestern was something that we needed," Spruill said. "It was a loss that put things into perspective as far as what we needed to do in order to accomplish what we need to accomplish. We work on that a lot in practice. Turnovers, stripping the ball and getting picks, running to the ball and making sure we have multiple guys in on every play. We worked on that and it showed last week against Wagner."
Spruill knew he didn't have to say much to the guys as their leader to keep their heads high. The 2013 Syracuse Orange remained confident despite the early season struggles and chose to focus on the task at hand.
"Everybody just had to work more on doing their job," Spruill said. "Some times we had people trying to do a lot more than their job called for them to do. That opens up gaps and big plays in defenses. As long as everybody keeps doing their job, we'll be just fine."
Tackling was strong in the season opener, but was subpar against Northwestern. It was back to being a strength against Wagner. Which performance is the real Syracuse defense? Spruill says it's what we saw last week.
"It's something we always continue to work on," Spruill said. "Against Northwestern, I don't really know why we had missed tackles like that. But we've got to keep working hard in practice. Have one guy hit the ball carrier and hold him up while the other guy tries to strip it. We work hard on that and if we don't do it, we do pushups just like with other mistakes we do pushups."
With the first victory behind them, Syracuse is focused on the task at hand this Saturday against Tulane. Spruill knows how important it is to get to .500 heading into conference play.
"It's very important because after that we have a bye week then Clemson," Spruill said. "As long we go through this game, we'll be 2-2 and confident. Then we'll keep working hard and practice hard to get ready for the next one. We've just got to go after it."
"We love it I guess," Spruill said. "Personally I don't care who's back there. As long as win games and they are putting up points, I don't care who it is. We just want to win games. Terrel did do a great job against Wagner. Hopefully he keeps working hard and can continue to improve."