Syracuse ended their four game losing streak on Saturday, with a road conference win over Wake Forest. The defense was superb, limiting the Demon Deacons to just 170-yards of total offense. They even nearly outscored the offense, picking up two touchdowns on the afternoon. The second score was a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by Micah Robinson.
The play wasn’t as simple as a strip sack. Let’s take a look at how many elements of the Orange defense came together for another big play.
Wake lines up with trips receivers to the left of the formation. Syracuse is lined up to cover it. There is a receiver off the above picture towards the sideline, where cornerback Brandon Reddish was lined up. He comes blitzing and Lynch sprints out to cover the receiver. Backup quarterback Tyler Cameron never looks to that side of the field. The Wake running back half-heartedly goes out to the flat.
This is the key to the play. Reddish’s blitz does not instantaneously arrive. A corner blitz is often not as quick as a linebacker or safety that starts at the line of scrimmage. Therefore, strong initial coverage is needed to give him time to get to the quarterback. At the top of the above picture, Syracuse has blanket coverage over each of the three receivers. There is nowhere for Cameron to go with the ball and he starts to retreat. If that coverage is not there, Cameron gets rid of the ball before Reddish can get there. This was fantastic execution by the secondary.
Reddish makes it to Cameron with the coverage on the receivers. He puts a solid hit on the Wake quarterback, and is able to poke the ball free. Notice Cameron’s head, which is looking downfield. He never sees Reddish coming from his blindside and is therefore unable to secure the football.
The ball pops free (circled above) and bounces on the turf. Four Syracuse defenders spot it and sprint in its direction to try to make the recovery. John Raymon is the closest to the ball and makes a diving attempt. He is unable to get there as the ball bounces away, but he does get a hand on the ball. The ball then pops up after Raymon’s swat and goes right into the belly of defensive end Micah Robinson.
Robinson snatches the ball after it popped into the air and has nothing but open field in front of him. He sprints into the end zone for Syracuse’s second defensive score of the game.