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Syracuse football releases updated 2018 depth chart

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(including a switch to a 4-2-5 coverage scheme)

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

With ACC Football Kickoff (it’s media days, dammit!) upon us, the Syracuse Orange have released the 2018 media guide.

Within the pages, you’ll find Eric Dungey looking unimpressed, Syracuse claiming the 1915 Rose Bowl bid they turned down, and of course, the updated depth chart going into camp. That last one is pretty big, since it incorporates all of the new freshmen, and in the case of what went live on Wednesday, also revealed a switch to a 4-2-5/Nickel base defensive alignment.

The 4-2-5’s not as common as base 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, but quite a few teams do utilize it, including TCU (which popularized it), North Carolina, West Virginia and others. Teams like USC and LSU also use it from time to time. As SB Nation pointed out last year, the Nickel/4-2-5 gained prevalence in part because it’s an attacking defense — versus what we’ve seen from the Orange these past two seasons.

With all of that said, first here’s the depth chart. Then we dive into the changes:

(click to zoom in, etc.)

The new stuff:

  • Cameron Jordan moves up to primary back-up duties to Devin Butler at one of the outside receiver spots, while walk-on K.K. Hahn is behind Jamal Custis on the inside. That’s... interesting, especially given the long list of scholarship wideouts on this year’s roster.
  • Airon Servais moves back to center (he lined up at offensive tackle in spring). Aaron Roberts and Sam Heckel get an “OR” designation at left guard as well. To little surprise, Texas A&M transfer Koda Martin is now your starting right tackle.
  • Looks like Chris Elmore is officially on defense this year, aside from occasional switches to fullback. He’s the back-up nose tackle right now.
  • The 4-2-5 switch introduces a bunch of changes, most notably the reduction of a linebacker and the addition of a “nickel back” (no, not the terrible band). Ryan Guthrie remains in the middle and Kielan Whitner will take on the weakside role, backed up by Andrew Armstrong and Shyheim Cullen, respectively.
  • Antwan Cordy assumes yet another position this offseason, now serving as the primary nickel back with converted running back Allen Stritzinger behind him (two ways to look at his presence there).
  • True freshman Andre Cisco is listed as the new starting free safety, which could mean we have a major talent on our hands. Newer names like Trill Williams, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Cam Jonas also make appearances further down the depth chart.

Before we get into anything else, just have to get this Sisqo gif out of the way...

(expect more of these throughout the season)

I’m intrigued by the shift to the 4-2-5, but it’s also interesting how it was done. Given that Kielan Whitner has experience in the secondary, you’d think he would have shifted to the nickel back spot, leaving Armstrong as the other linebacker along with Guthrie. At the same time, this defense is going to be doing more attacking, so perhaps Cordy is the perfect person for that role.

Elsewhere, the way the receivers shake out seems pretty interesting (especially with Hahn’s appearance there). I’d expect some more shuffling throughout camp there. And same goes for the line, which has a lot of options to plug in. Servais could still shift out of the center spot, too.

But what else seems interesting here? Excited that freshmen are getting extensive looks in the secondary? Or is that a terrifying commentary on the experience talent on the roster? Bring any and all takes below.