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Linebacker? I Barely Know Her.

Thanks to ryanwk628 for noticing this...

Derrell Smith rides Doug Hogue the way a cowboy locked down on a bucking bull hangs on relentlessly for every aggravating second.

Okay, so, now that you've got that mental picture in your head, let's talk about linebackers!

The above quote comes from Donnie's piece on Doug Hogue, the converted running back who is embracing his role as a linebacker for SU.  Hogue leads the Orange with three pass break-ups and he's fourth overall in tackles (23).  He's even got the Doug Marrone Tremendous Seal of Approval:

"I think he’s a tremendous linebacker. I really do."

Hogue's partner in crime at the position is Derrell Smith, who as noted above, rides Hogue constantly though in a different way than you thought.  Sinner.

Hogue leads the Orange this season in pass breakups with three. Smith wonders why he could drop so many interceptions.

When Hogue actually intercepted a pass against Maine last week and returned it 30 yards, Smith was there to point out that a quarterback had made the tackle.

Let's shift gears and talk about Mr. Smith this week.  I'm sure Donnie's rundown on the starting MLB won't start with an equally-homoerotically-ambiguous statement as his Hogue article.

Derrell Smith owns the bone.

Alright, well, I guess we know today's theme.  ANYway, the bone is actually, well, I'll let Donnie explain:

This [award] is given out weekly to the player that administers the biggest hit. The trophy is some type of humongous bone that players get to lug around all week including taking it to the games.

I'm all in favor of things like this.  As far as I'm concerned, there should also be an Intercontinental Title (for best play in the previous week's game) and a Stanley Cup (for the Team MVP each week) and players should be required to carry both to all practices, games and classes.  I dare you to disagree.

Syracuse Middle Linebacker Derrell Smith

So we know Smith and we know Hogue but what about the forgotten linebacker for the Orange?  The U2 drummer of Syracuse's linebacker corp, Mike Stenclik.  The senior, who has battled concussions all throughout his career, is seeing a lot of action this season on the goal-line unit as well as on special teams.  

"It feels good to actually start contributing to the team a lot more than I have in the past," Stenclik said this week. "It's my last season. It's something that feels right."

Nice to end things on a high note.

The entire unit, as well as the D-line, can hold their head up high with the knowledge that they are ranked No. 19 in the nation in run defense, allowing only 80.67 yards per game.  DC Scott Shafer can be credited with helping with the defensive turnaround.  He especially seems to be fond of the award system.  There's the aforementioned bone that Derrell Smith currently owns.  And then there's the Camera Club:

"We started that all the way back when I was a young coach at the University of Rhode Island (in 1992)," Shafer said. "We were a really bad team when we inherited the program and we wanted to make a goal board that would have attainable objectives regardless of ability level. So we said, ‘How can we chart effort? Let's count how many guys are in the camera (frame) at the end of the play and make a big deal out of it.’

"And we weren't very good, but we'd get about 6.5, 6.8 guys (on average) in the camera. And then when we recruited and got a little bit faster it got to seven, and then it became a pride thing week to week for the kids. They understood that when we were in the camera, all of a sudden we would have two or three more fumble recoveries, maybe one for a touchdown. So that's when we started it, and I carried it with me at every job I had. It's one of those pillars of our defense."