'Cuse Defense Shines Once Again

Jacob Payne

The Syracuse defense refused to leave Georgia Tech QB Jeff Sims alone. The freshman entered the Carrier Dome Saturday averaging two interceptions a game, a stat I’m sure he hoped to improve. Instead, his three-game average increased significantly after the Orange secondary picked him off four different times, taking one back to the house.

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It was a remarkable performance on both sides of the ball for Syracuse. The Orange offense scored four touchdowns, dividing them equally both on the ground and through the air. That scoring surge was sure to be the story of the game after finding the end zone just once over the past two weeks. But as they’re starting to be known for, the Syracuse defense just couldn’t let the offense have the limelight.

“I think that five defensive takeaways is extremely, extremely impressive,” head coach Dino Babers admitted when asked which unit had the better day. “A lot of people put points on those things. Five takeaways on defense to me is close to 20, 21 points if you're doing the things that you're supposed to be doing on offense. So I give those guys a lot of credit when they can get the ball like that.”

A SportsCenter Top 10 moment came in the fourth quarter when freshman CB Ja’Had Carter came down with ‘Cuse’s fourth and final pick of the game. Carter started running and got 23-yards deep in his return before he stopped and looked for help. When he turned around, he saw teammate CB Trill Williams begging for the ball.

“I called for it,” Williams said proudly to the media after the game. “I was screaming his name. I was like, 'Ja, Ja, Ja!' And he looked back and we made eye contact and I was like, 'oh, yes, we're really about to do this' and it happened.”

What happened was Williams putting the finishing touches on Carter’s takeaway by escorting it the remaining 43-yards to the end zone.

Babers was quick to credit Carter and Williams post-game for the in-play ingenuity.

“I think that we give our guys a little freedom and they definitely take advantage of it,” Babers said before offering the conditions of that freedom. “Now, some things are not as free as others, but we do have a bottom line result and the bottom line result is: you better score. Because if you don't, you will be taking out the trash for a long time in this family.”

The only thing Trill took out was any remaining confidence Jeff Sims had before that pass left his fingertips. Trill’s confidence, though, has never been higher.

‘That's just what our defense do,” Williams said as he began appraising his squad’s performance. “We got a lot of ballhawks in the secondary. We fly around a lot. I feel like we have the best secondary in the country right now.”

With games still to be played the college football weekend, Syracuse’s seven team interceptions through three weeks likely puts the Orange at, or near the top in the national rankings.

Also climbing the rankings (slightly) is Syracuse in the ACC standings, who will hop-scotch Georgia Tech after their 37-20 victory at the Carrier Dome. The Orange improve to 1-2 as they head into their bye-week.

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