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Syracuse football: Defensive line changes stand out in camp

Camp focused on the defensive line today and we learned some new things.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange football continues ramping up for the 2016 season. At camp today, the focus was largely on the defensive line, which is still undergoing changes as the team begins to fold in new roster additions.

As you already know, the Orange D-line is thin and inexperienced right now, which presents opportunity as well as uncertainty. The coaching staff gets this, and are continually trying out new things with the group.

The biggest takeaway from today was that the line’s personnel will be determined by strong- and weak-side switching, rather than predetermined “right” or “left” side position designations. The Daily Orange’s Chris Libonati spoke to senior defensive end Hernz Laguerre, who added more around the new methodology. Laguerre says the team will largely put bigger ends on the strong side, and speed ends on the weak side (with some additional considerations made for gameplan adjustments).

Redshirt freshman Jake Pickard provided additional insights on the switch to’s Stephen Bailey:

"We have a lot more choice. It's more of a zone defense, a gap-scheme defense so we can kind of work. Last year, there were some plays where it was like this is what you have to do. “

"(This year), if there's a situation where myself and the d-tackle to my side see something in the offense that we've gone over, we can make our own checks and kind of just do something that's not the base defense, but is going to attack the offense in ways that they're not used to."

Syracuse is also utilizing defensive tackle Chris Slayton a bit at end as well, to help rotate different looks (as mentioned above, you could have a speed package, or a strength package, depending on the situation). Such a move would also allow the team to get more reps for Steven Clark, who’s currently listed second on the depth chart at tackle. Potentially having Clark, Slayton and Kayton Samuels on the field at once would make SU a whole lot bigger and be an asset in clear run-stopping situations.

Not to just focus on the returning players, the newcomers have been pushing for snaps, and obviously the sooner they’re ready to play the better given the aforementioned depth issues. Bailey spoke with several players who had positive things to say about Colorado transfer De’Jon Wilson already. It would seem he’d be an ideal fit on the strong side of the proposed formation.

True freshman Kendall Coleman was getting first-team reps at defensive end today, according to on-site observers. Both him and fellow frosh Josh Black received some early praise from teammates, especially Black around his ability to soak in all the new information coming at him since arriving on campus.

Lastly, I’ll just leave this here...


While none of this means we’re out of the woods on the line, it certainly seems like Dino Babers, Brian Ward and the rest of the staff understand what they have on this roster and how to use it effectively. Should be interesting to see who’s used and how they’re implemented come the season opener.