One of the biggest changes for the Syracuse Orange football team this offseason has been the hire of Zach Arnett as the new defensive coordinator. The former San Diego State DC has had a pretty successful run with the Aztecs — we detailed plenty about that here — and the basic defensive rankings give us plenty to get excited about on their own. But one additional metric to get excited about is stop rate.
The Athletic discussed the top 2019 teams in terms of stop rate (the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs) this week, and included among those notes was one about San Diego State, which fourth overall in the measure, with 82.2% (just 0.3% away from the top team, Ohio State).
Now this number isn’t adjusted for strength of schedule, so obviously it’s a little bit easier to stop teams like UNLV more frequently than it is squads like Michigan and Penn State. Still, it’s a reasonable gauge of how good SDSU’s defense was at getting off the field — something Syracuse has struggled with at times recently. Syracuse was 71st in stop rate last year. They were also 101st in 3-and-out rate (the rate at which a defense forces 3-and-outs).
Coincidentally, SDSU was actually second in the nation according to that metric, forcing three-and-outs an impressive 46.5% of the time. Again, adjust for competition a bit, BUT that’s still a great clip, and we’d even take something halfway between that and what Syracuse managed last year (26.6% 3-and-out rate).
The whole piece is worth a read if you have a chance. We’ll start seeing some of what Arnett will be doing with this defense come the spring game in a few months.
Five draft prospects who helped themselves at Shrine Bowl (The Athletic)
Coleman finished with four tackles and two quarterback hits in an active day. His numbers were down as a senior, but he ranked second in the ACC in 2018 with 10 sacks, finishing as a four-year starter for the Orange. He’s from Indianapolis and has been training there with former Colts pass-rusher Robert Mathis, a five-time Pro Bowler who finished his career with 123 sacks.
Early ACC Football Predictions for 2020 (Athlon Sports)
6. Syracuse: Two new coordinators (Sterlin Gilbert for offense and Zach Arnett for defense) will help get this program back on track after a five-game regression in the win column. After averaging 40.2 points a game in 2018, Syracuse recorded only 28.3 a contest last fall. The development of quarterback Tommy DeVito is crucial to propel the offense in 2020, but the line has to take a massive step forward after allowing 50 sacks last season.
“The 2019 season was not what we envisioned as a team; we did not reach our goals, and we hit rock bottom. This off-season is about growth and development. 2020, there will be no hype. There will be no talk about Syracuse Football. There will be no expectations, but for us to lose. The only people that know what we have is us. The 2020 Syracuse Football Team. No more talking... Beware of the quiet man. New Year, New Team, One Dream.”
Is time back on Syracuse basketball’s side? (Syracuse.com)
“We’re getting better as a team from where we were in the beginning of the year,” Boeheim said. “Actually a lot better. Our defense is way better.” No one is saying it is going to be easy. The margin for error is still razor thin. Syracuse currently doesn’t appear on one NCAA Tournament bracket measured on The Bracket Matrix. Boeheim has stuck to the script all season. His team needs to improve.
2020 Face-Off Yearbook: Preseason Men’s DI Media All-Americans (Inside Lacrosse)
If the ACC Tournament started today (247Sports)
ACC football was awful in 2019, but will improve rapidly (Shakin the Southland)