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Syracuse football’s player of the game vs. Clemson

It’s usually a pretty good sign when a player decides to have a breakout game against the No. 1 team in the country

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Oddly enough, there have been a couple of games where one player on the Syracuse Orange football roster stands out for his impeccable performance on the gridiron. It does go to show that there are diamonds and positives to be found in a season where SU has only claimed one victory.

I mentioned in our prediction thread for the Clemson match that the game provided an opportunity for players to step up and show that they’re willing to play and hang tough against significantly more talented opposition. Some of Syracuse’s players rose to that challenge and proved to the fans and the coaching staff that they could still produce a quality performance despite the on-paper talent deficit. One in particular, stood out the most.

Garrett Williams

Williams has quietly had a solid season for the Orange. The redshirt freshman has been a favorite target by opposing quarterbacks to cherry-pick due to a multitude of factors. Despite his inexperience in the collegiate level, Williams has been one of Syracuse’s better players. After the Clemson game, Williams is the third highest graded Orange defender by Pro Football Focus with a 72.4.

Against Clemson, Williams was once again a popular target to throw at. However, Trevor Lawrence didn’t find too much success when throwing to receivers covered by the North Carolina native. Lawrence only recorded a 33.3 quarterback rating when throwing to those receivers covered by Williams, further emphasizing the impact that a first-year starter had against the favorite for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Of course the most memorable play from Williams is his pick-six, which was his first of his career and the first pick-six thrown by Lawrence in his collegiate career. Perhaps even more impressive was his pass breakup that denied Amari Rodgers of a big gain through the air. I’m probably more impressed by that pass breakup than the pick-six, as Williams showed excellent composure, skill, and knowledge to turn what looked to be a surefire 50-yard gain into an incompletion.

It’s incredible to remember that Trill Williams was actually slated to be the starting cornerback alongside Ifeatu Melifonwu in the spring depth chart. However, after moving Trill back to the middle of Syracuse’s pass coverage, Garrett has proven that he should be a starter for the rest of his collegiate career. He’s been an excellent partner-in-crime to Melifonwu as the two are starting to develop into one of the best cornerback duos in the ACC.

Not bad for a redshirt freshman not many people knew about heading into the 2020 season.

Honorable Mentions: Sean Tucker, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Nolan Cooney

Now it’s your turn. Who was Syracuse’s player of the game against Clemson? Sound off in the comments below.