Syracuse has its work cut out for itself Saturday night as they try to contain a high powered Notre Dame offense. A big key will be how the Orange defend quarterback Everett Golson, who can hurt a defense with his legs as much as he can with his arm.
Syracuse linebackers coach Clark Lea knows the Orange have a major challenge ahead, but says they will have a plan to limit his playmaking ability.
”I would say he might be the best creator of the group we’ve seen,” Lea said. “The Villanova quarterback, he was a master of moving the chains and keeping plays alive. I think Golson has similar ability but maybe a little faster. He’s elusive. The Maryland quarterback was a straight line runner who was really good when he got out there and got going, but maybe wasn’t as shifty in the pocket. Everett is going to stress you out in terms of staying on that outside shoulder for contain.
”Pressing the pocket. Closing seams down so he can’t escape. I’m talking specifically when he’s dropping back to throw the ball. In the run game, obviously you have to account for him. In certain schemes, you have a guy to defend him inside and to defend him outside. It’ll be a challenge. He’s a great player. Even if we have the best defense in the world he’s going to make some plays. That’s what makes him special.”
One way Syracuse may look to contain Golson is by using a spy. That will not likely be done on first or second down, but could come into play on passing situations on third down.
”We go into every week with the capability of doing that,” Lea said. “I can assure you that every defense we design is going to be designed to try to keep him pinned. Whether that’s a pure spy or just through an added rush. He just requires that kind of attention. You don’t necessarily do that and remove a guy. In base downs you can’t necessarily do that, right, because you’ve got to defend the run and you’ve got to defend the passes and screens.
”On third down, you can afford to do that sometimes. You bring an extra DB on the field and have a three-man rush and use an extra guy on top of the quarterback. Whether or not we decide to do that, that depends on what coach Bullough deems appropriate. Do you add an extra guy into coverage to try to add people there, or do you have an extra in the box to try to defend his movements? We’ll have discussions about what’s best for the team.”
Syracuse has been hurt by dual threat quarterbacks in the past. Just this season, in the opener, Villanova quarterback John Robertson was the first individual player to rush for over 100-yards in a game against the Orange since the 2012 season. They will have to be disciplined on Saturday if they are to have success against one of the best in college football.