Much has been made of Syracuse football’s new offense under offensive coordinator Tim Lester. A lot of it is still a mystery, but one thing is for sure. It has tested a young Orange defense by forcing them to be disciplined, according to sophomore linebacker Zaire Franklin.
According to Franklin, Lester’s offense pressures the defense by forcing players to make quick decisions. One choice puts them in a position to make a play or make a tackle. The other results in a big gain or even a touchdown.
When you’re not used to all of the different looks, formations and variations of the offense, it can be quite make things very difficult for an opposing defense.
”One thing that definitely stood out to us, in the spring when they first started really introducing it, it makes you really have to understand, in its entirety, your entire scheme,” Franklin said. “Your rules as a run defender and in your pass drops, and why you do these things. Because coach Lester’s offense, it consistently puts you in predicaments when you may not know what to do.
”It’s so many great reads and it’s so tricky, that you have to understand your rules and why you’re doing them. That’s what we’ve been emphasizing this spring and summer. I think it’s going to help us with other offenses too.”
While the personnel on the offensive side of the ball were getting used to a new system, so was the defense. With the way it puts pressure on individual players’ discipline, it has helped the young Syracuse defense as they look to replicate the unit’s strong production from a year ago.
”You definitely understand the importance of staying in your gap,” Franklin said. “Manning your responsibility and not falling in someone else’s lane. That’s kind of what we like to say. Just do your job and handle your responsibility. Have trust the guy next to you that he’s going to do his responsible.
”Their offense has put us in positions where we had to learn that the hard way.”
Early in the spring, when facing Lester’s new offense for the first time, Franklin and the rest of the defense learned some hard lessons. Among them is Franklin’s distain for a specific play.
”The reverse sucks,” he said. “I hate the reverse. Just how fast they can get to the edge. There was one play with Erv in the spring. I remember when they first put this one play in, he was like 10-yards behind us before I felt like I even knew.
”That’s A, Erv being really fast. But then me just not knowing they could get to the edge just that fast. Get to the outside that fast.”
Facing Lester’s offense and it’s varying formations and looks will help the Syracuse defense as they navigate their schedule and face a variety of offensive schemes. They feel they will be ready for any challenge.
”It helps you understand your responsibilities and why they’re important,” Franklin said. “Then, when you have a full understanding of the playbook and your role in it, it doesn’t really matter what teams you play or different schemes you play.
”You understand your role and why it’s important versus what your facing. So once you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, then the rest of it is easy.”