A key play that set the tone early for Syracuse was a sack of Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown by Dyshawn Davis, forcing the Terrapins to punt on their first possession after venturing into Orange territory.
Maryland lines up with four wide receivers, two stacked on each side of the field. Syracuse lines up in the Okie package, with three down linemen, three linebackers, two corners and three safeties. The Orange linemen are Robert Welsh, Jay Bromley, and Micah Robinson from top to bottom in the picture below. Cam Lynch is standing on top of Welsh, with Ri'Shard Anderson at the top of the screen covering the receivers. Darius Kelly is the safety at the 30, while Jeremi Wilkes is in the middle of the field in the box.
Marquis Spruill is a few steps behind Robinson, while Davis is circled. When the ball is snapped, Wilkes back pedals, as does Anderson. Kelly takes a small step forward, as he is responsible for the second receiver in the stack. Robinson immediately stunts to his left, while Bromley attacks the center and Welsh attacks the tackle. Spruill blitzes right away, as does Lynch, putting pressure on the Maryland offensive line.
Robinson's stunt forces the guard to pick him up, while Spruill's blitz occupies the tackle. The Terrapins offensive line does a good job of picking up the rushers. The problem is, Davis is left with no one to pick him up, as the running back who lined up next to Brown looks to pick up a blitzing Lynch. Davis hesitates just enough for the tackle to not notice him, giving him a free path to Brown. Eskridge backs up to take the second in the stacked receivers at the bottom of the picture, while Brandon Reddish (not pictured) takes the other. Wilkes covers the deep middle, while Anderson backs up to take the first receiver in the stack at the top of the picture. Kelly continues to monitor the second receiver at the top.
Kelly's role in this play is key, as a misstep by the JUCO transfer gives Brown a place to go with the ball. With Davis bearing down on him, it speeds up his reads and decision-making process. As the receiver at the Syracuse 41 continues his route, Kelly stares him down and is ready to break when he does.
As Davis gets closer to Brown, Kelly is in perfect position to defend the Maryland receiver squaring off his route. He is breaking towards the receiver, eliminating him as an option for Brown with Kelly's closing speed.
With Kelly doing his job to perfection, Brown is now forced to scramble as Davis charges towards him. But he waited too long, and Davis is able to use his speed to grab Brown and drag him to the ground for a drive ending sack.
The play set the tone for a Syracuse defense that routinely shut down Maryland drives that ventured into Orange territory. Davis was a key asset by blitzing frequently from different spots all game long. Syracuse will have a much bigger test this coming Saturday when they travel to Tallahassee to face the Florida State Seminoles.