Facebook Twitter Google+ Forget up-tempo, high-powered offense. Syracuse’s defense is the new fast.Though Syracuse hired head coach Dino Babers for his offensive genius, the Syracuse defense deserves the bulk of the credit for the Orange’s (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) resurgence. It has fueled what’s shaping up to be Syracuse’s best season in four years, disrupting opponents’ offenses and allowing its own the time it needs to click.The upset over then-No. 2 Clemson Friday offered a showcase of just how far this defense has come. On the biggest stage in recent program history, the SU defense harassed Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant before knocking him out of the game. It held the defending national champion’s run game to less than half of its season average yards per game. As Syracuse’s offenses continues to put up strong numbers in Year 2 under Babers, it is clear the defense has found the right ingredients to slow down opponents.“We’re just a completely different unit top to bottom,” said senior linebacker and captain Zaire Franklin. “I’m not just saying that. Parris (Bennett) is not the same player he was last year. We all just got better and I think at times we played great but other times we underachieve and that’s disappointing.”“When we take that next step,” Franklin said last month, “we’re really going to be something.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe thing is, Syracuse has already taken that step. Backed by a strong defense, the Orange is a win over No. 8 Miami away from its first stretch of three consecutive conference victories in 16 years. Sixteen years. Yet Syracuse is without safety Antwan Cordy and defensive linemen Kendall Coleman and Josh Black. Graduate transfer Jordan Martin was forced to move to safety, where he has thrived.Yes, the Orange still needs two wins to be bowl eligible for the first time in four years, so don’t get overly excited with five more games — three against Preseason Top 25 teams — remaining on the schedule. But with a chance to upset a second straight Top 10 team and a bye week forthcoming, it’s hard not to imagine the possibilities.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorBabers arrived at Syracuse with the promise of a big-time offense. That came in Year 1 and has continued this year. A quick look at this year’s defense shows it’s one of the most improved in college football. Considering the strength of Syracuse’s schedule, SU may have the most-improved defense in the country. In 2016, SU finished 122nd out of 128 FBS teams in total defense. The year prior, Syracuse finished 99th.In the second year of its Tampa 2 system, Syracuse has bucked the trend, placing 38th in both total and rushing defense. Offensively innovative and defensive-minded, the Orange has allowed 35 or more points only once this season. That happened six times a year ago under defensive coordinator Brian Ward’s scheme.“The determination they all have has been ridiculous,” senior offensive lineman Jamar McGloster said. “They’re playing harder than I’ve ever seen them play.”The quick turnaround starts with the defensive line, which takes away pressure from the linebackers and has stymied, punished and befuddled opposing quarterbacks. The unit has forced four starting QBs to leave a game. Syracuse’s front has proved to be the heart of the defense and foundation for strong coverage.The defensive line is much bigger and stronger, led by Chris Slayton and Kayton Samuels, said Julian Whigham, a former Syracuse cornerback and ESPN Syracuse analyst. Last year, highlight reels too often showed SU defensive backs running down field at receivers who had beaten them. This year, big plays are rare. They have molded to the Tampa 2, a zone coverage scheme designed to prevent big plays, and have kept most players in front.On Sept. 30 against N.C. State, the Orange allowed 26 first-half points because it could not defend on the edge. Poor containment and tackling allowed Wolfpack outside runs to routinely stretch for 10 or more yards, though it’s worth mentioning that SU held NCSU to only seven second-half points. Against the Wolfpack, Pittsburgh and Clemson, the big plays came on runs. Those suck the air out of a team. When Syracuse buckles down to limit big plays, it pilots the offense, buying it more possessions and time to shine.“They re-energized themselves to come out this year and prove to everyone else that not only are there good coaches,” Babers said, “but there are good players on that side of the football as well.”Before the season, Babers said SU would have to play better defense to make a bowl. Then, SU would have to lock down in the red zone, get more turnovers and stop teams on third downs. Through seven games, Syracuse owns the country’s third-best third-down defense and 23rd-best red zone defense.“We’re playing a lot faster, a lot smarter,” Franklin said. “I can’t wait to see the finished product.”Look out, because it’s unfolding before our eyes. Comments Published on October 18, 2017 at 9:44 pm
The Milo U-13 train made its stop at Sunyani for the ZONE 2 after thrilling and buzzing activities in Lawra for the ZONE 1 championship that hosted the Northern, Upper East and West, North East and the Savanna Regions.The championship did not fail to excite as the participating schools turned up in style to grace the 5th anniversary of the competition with Lawra hosting its maiden zonal competition.ZONE 2 kickoff with 16 participating schools from the Ashanti, Bono, Ahafo and the Bono East Regions competing for a place in the grand finale to be played in Kumasi.The participating schools were St. Joseph International, Amoawi Methodist Primary, Sepe Tinpom M/A -A, Sepe Tinpom M/A- B, Techimantia Methodist Primary, Boda R/C, Bebato Kuma Primary, Ateco Demonstration Primary, Abu Bonsra Primary, Nkonsia Primary, Buokrom Primary, Onyemsu D/A, Asuotiano Presby Primary, Anansu Primary, Brofoyedru D/A, and Dutch Presby Primary School.￼All semifinalists from this zone made the list of school to represent their respective Regions in the finals come June 2, 2019, at the Paa Joe Park in Kumasi.The first day of the competition drew about 600 kids from the non-participating schools for the SOCCER CLINIC; they were taken through fitness tests and drills by the ICON for the competition – Stephen Appiah at the Sunyani Senior High School Park.This is aimed at developing their skills on the ball, their movements and most importantly the teamwork which Nestlé hopes to foster among the kids.The actual competition took off on the second day, the kids showed great talents and potentials as competed in the field of play.Ashanti Region had 8 competing schools and was grouped into A and B with Bono having 4 while both Bono East and Ahafo were represented by 2 each – they had to play a round robbing game (home and away) with the most wins and goals to go through to the semis.A total of 14 games were played on the first day, organizers and spectators from the community were thrilled with the sheer quality of talents these kids displayed as there was no shortage of football skills and intelligence.After the first round of games was played, Amoawi Methodist Primary and Sepe Tinpom M/A-B were winners in their respective groups from the Ashanti Region and had to square it up for who represents the region. Amoawi were too strong for their compatriots on the day as they were 1-0 winners.They became the first to side from Zone 2 to book their place in the National finals.Boda R/C Primary followed after emerging as group leaders from the Bono Region after thrashing Abu Bonsra 4-1 in their group decider.St. Joseph International School proved to be too strong for their fellow regional rivals, Techimantia Methodist. The won 7-1 on aggregate to make it to the semis.The 4th slot went to Babato Kuma Primary from the Ahafo Region after beating Ateco Demo Primary 2-0 on aggregate to advancement to the National Finals.SEMI-FINALISTS After the pairing was done, it was Amoawi against St. Joseph – the final before the actual finals as it was tagged by spectators then Babato Kuma against Boda R/C in the second semi-final game.The first semi-final game was everything spectators wished for, great game, quality football techniques from the kids. They entertained the fans but it was St. Joseph who narrowly edged out their opponents with a lone goal scored in the second half by their wonder kid, Mark Aboagye.The winner of the second semis had to be decided through the shootout as Boda R/C and Babato Kuma played out a 1-1 draw game – but it’s was Boda that emerged as winners from the spot kicks with a 4-2 win.Then there came the finale of ZONE 2 to decided the Zonal champions.It was St. Joseph from the Ahafo Region and Boda from the Bono Region.With little or no surprise, it was St. Joseph International School that were crowned Zone 2 champions but there were made to sweat for it by Bada who defended gallantly. A super sub, Israel Kofi Sarfo decided the winner when he was introduced midway in the second half.￼AWARDSFair Play – Nsoatre Presby PrimaryBest Goalkeeper – Theophilus Adu Benpah of Amoawi MethodistGoal King and the overall best player went to Mark Aboagye of St. Joseph International School.