Reviewing ‘turnover tape’ raises the takeaway expectations for Syracuse

first_imgSyracuse picked off a Western Michigan pass four defensive plays into the 2018 season. It was the Orange’s first interception in nine games, dating back to September of 2017.Junior Scoop Bradshaw pounced on a WMU receiver as he brought the pass in on a short comeback route. The ball flew high in the air and freshman safety Andre Cisco snatched it, grabbing the first of two interceptions in a 55-42 win over WMU.Syracuse (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) has intercepted its opponent in three consecutive games to start the season. In 2017, the Orange tallied four interceptions in a three-game span before not intercepting an opposing quarterback’s pass for the final eight games of the season. SU finished the year ranked 115th in turnovers. Entering Saturday’s game against Connecticut (1-2, 0-1 American Athletic), which averages an interceptiocn thrown per game, Syracuse is tied for seventh in the country with six interceptions, four shy of its highest mark under Dino Babers.“It’s kind of like a batting average in baseball,” Babers said. “You go back and check how many opportunities we had for interceptions and how many we made last year, I bet you our batting average would be really low. You go back to how many times we’ve touched the ball this year and we had a chance for interception and how many times we’ve got that ball, I bet you our batting average is really high.”Syracuse doesn’t have a turnover chain like the University of Miami or celebrate “securing the bag” like FSU, but it does have what Chris Fredrick called the “turnover tape.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe redshirt junior defensive back said defensive coordinator Brian Ward sat his unit down in the spring and played a lowlight reel which contained all of SU’s missed opportunities to take the ball away in 2017. Some were dropped interceptions. Others were forced fumbles the Orange didn’t scoop. Even the defensive line was featured when it could’ve swiped the ball from the quarterback’s arm.In practice, the secondary unit runs a turnover circuit, redshirt senior defensive back Antwan Cordy said. Among other drills, SU players run through a classic tip-drill, in which players run at an oncoming pass and tip it in the air to the person behind him in line. When the ball reaches the last player, he secures the interception.“Turnovers are important, it’s easy to get the momentum going. If we have a turnover, we could be in a hole but once a turnover comes,” said Cordy as he snapped his fingers, “we got the momentum now.”Fredrick said he “can’t be sure” as to why there has been an influx in turnovers this season. He and Cordy both noted the secondary’s coverage of routes this year have been tighter. Cordy added the team’s disguised coverages — shifting from zone to man just before the snap — have led to mistakes by opposing quarterbacks.In Week 2, Cisco picked off Wagner quarterback T.J. Linta on consecutive third downs. The first came off undercutting a drag route in man coverage and the second came out of a robber look in which Cisco shifted down toward the line of scrimmage just before the snap. On both plays, Cisco started the play in a different spot than the quarterback last saw him, leading to Cisco jumping routes.Both Cisco takeaways granted the Orange possession inside the Wagner 30-yard line. SU’s interceptions have landed SU inside its opposition’s 35-yard line five of six times, leading to 17 points off turnovers. “Someone says ‘Oh that guy doesn’t have to catch, he’s a DB,’” Babers said after the Wagner game. “Well if there’s a DB that knows how to catch it can be a huge weapon.”Babers attributes the turnover increase to an improved pass rush. When a defensive linemen is barreling at a quarterback, it limits time to make the throw with proper mechanics and judgement.Against Florida State, Syracuse’s defensive line knocked down Deondre Francois nine times, four of which were sacks. Defensive linemen Kendall Coleman noted after the 30-7 win, “It was pretty visible he was feeling us,” of the Syracuse pass rush.In the second quarter, Francois had time, but his unsteady feet, often a product of heavy pass rush, showed. The redshirt junior dropped back and threw a line drive down the seam toward a receiver running a vertical route. Fredrick, who noticed on film that Francois had a tendency to throw passes with little loft, undercut the pass for an interception.Even after the interception, Ward told his defense they needed more turnovers, Fredrick said. Syracuse could have had three more, had they recovered any of their forced fumbles this season. Perhaps those will make the tape Ward shows. For now, Syracuse’s focus hasn’t wavered.“We have to get turnovers,” Cordy said. “That’s our mindset … turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.” Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 19, 2018 at 10:36 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] | @Schafer_44 Commentslast_img

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