COLLEGE PARK, MD – For the second week in a row, a stout, dominating defense led the Orange to an important victory. This time, it was against the Maryland Terrapins on the road. Despite giving up more points, the defense may have been more impressive than the shutout win a week prior.
The Syracuse linebackers were especially strong, with Marquis Spruill and Dyshawn Davis playing in the Maryland backfield throughout the game. Both blitzed extremely well, tackled with strong technique and laid the lumber when they arrived at ball carriers.
They helped limit the Maryland rushing attack to just-81 yards on 36 attempts, good for just 2.3-yards per carry.
"We really try to focus on ourselves more than other teams," Spruill said. "Of course, we are going to watch films and game plan, but we also have to worry about doing our job more than the plays of other teams."
They did their job to perfection, blitzing from all over the formation, chasing quarterback C.J. Brown out of the pocket, and tackling Terrapin running backs behind the line of scrimmage. In total, the Orange defense had three sacks and seven tackles for loss while forcing five Maryland fumbles, two of which were recovered by Syracuse.
Davis was especially strong, including a sack that set the tone on Maryland's first possession of the game. He delayed his blitz beautifully, and got a free run on Brown. Davis chased him down with ease and forced the Terrapins to punt. Davis was all over the field on Saturday, and reminded Orange fans why losing him to injury earlier in the season was such a big blow.
With the Orange offense failing to take advantage of good field position, turnovers, and chances in Terrapin territory, the defense held firm with big stop after big stop. On a critical third quarter possession, Maryland was moving in on a score to get back in the game.
The Terps had first and goal at the Syracuse 10-yard line. But the Orange held strong by stopping two runs and forcing an incomplete pass with pressure up the middle.
Over the last eight quarters, the Syracuse defense has allowed only three points, played 113:22 of shutout football, allowed only 106 total rushing yards (1.93 yards per carry), and forced five turnovers. It was the second consecutive week where a passing defense that had been inconsistent was able to generate pressure and was solid in coverage down the field.
With just three games left in the season, the Orange defense is becoming what man thought it could be at the perfect time.