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Defense stands tall in final tune-up scrimmage

first_imgSafety Aaron Henry intercepted quarterback Jon Budmayr in practice Saturday and nearly scored.[/media-credit]If spring football can be used as any sort of barometer for where the Wisconsin Badgers’ personnel stand, one fact stood out as Saturday’s practice came to a close.The offense has a ways to go in catching up to the defense.In a practice with live tackling and situational scrimmaging, Wisconsin’s No. 1 offense started out hot, scoring touchdowns on its first two drives and covering 60 yards on both occasions.Then the defense clamped down.The second-team offense never managed to score a touchdown, and the first-teamers only got one more score when running back James White broke away on a run and took it to the house from 45 yards out.Otherwise, the defense contained the running game and shut down the passing attack.Quarterback CompetitionWith Joe Brennan routinely struggling to lead the No. 2 offense, Jon Budmayr has never been threatened during spring ball as the No. 1 starter.Yet, Budmayr has done little to cement his status as starter heading into the fall with quarterback Curt Phillips returning from injury.Budmayr tossed two more interceptions Saturday – against one touchdown – and missed several open receivers.During two attempts at a red zone drill, the No. 1 offense was unable to put the ball in the end zone, with Budmayr watching three of his passes fall incomplete. He avoided having any passes blocked at the line for the first practice all spring, but still forced too many balls into tight windows.On his first interception, Budmayr failed to look off safety Aaron Henry, who had a chance to return the pick for a touchdown if the coaches hadn’t blown the play dead.Red Zone RespectDefensive coordinator Chris Ash admitted this spring he is trying to instill a sense of swagger into his guys on “D.” If someone makes a big play, he wants them to celebrate it.Never was this more apparent than when the No. 1 defense and offense matched up for a two-minute drill. While the offense moved the ball down to the three-yard line after broken coverage allowed tight end Brian Wozniak to get free for a big gain, the defense clamped down from there.On second down, Budmayr tossed a well-placed fade route to receiver Jeff Duckworth, who managed to get both hands on the ball before being crushed by Devin Smith. The senior cornerback immediately got up after breaking up the pass and stood over Duckworth talking smack.One play later, the defense converged in the middle to keep running back Montee Ball just short of the end zone as time ran out on the two-minute clock. They left the field celebrating and chest bumping.Injury ReportFullback Bradie Ewing and linebacker Kevin Claxton both sat out Saturday, though both supposedly with minor injuries to shoulder and ribs, respectively. … Phillips did not suit up at all for the first time this spring, though that may have been because most of the practice was spent doing live work with few non-contact drills. … Jacob Pedersen got rolled up on the back of his legs and was taken off the field to have his right ankle taped up and iced. He did not return but was able to walk around on his own power.Mental MistakesAfter a season spent building a well-deserved reputation as an offense that didn’t shoot itself in the foot, the Badgers were well out of sorts Saturday.The No. 2 offensive line was hit with at least five holding penalties and at one point false-started two plays in a row.White lost a fumble to start a drive – curiously enough, it was Joel Stave’s one series with the No. 1 offense – and took a lap to pay the price.The little things that made such a big difference for the offense last season held them back Saturday.last_img read more

On SU’s 1st depth chart, RBs Howard and Adams among 5 players not listed

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ The Daily Orange is a nonprofit newsroom that receives no funding from Syracuse University. Consider donating today to support our mission.Just after head coach Dino Babers said Monday that he didn’t want to comment on player availability for Saturday’s season opener against North Carolina, SU football released its Week 1 depth chart. SU’s first depth chart provides the first glimpse since the spring at important position changes, as well as players who impressed the coaching staff during a shortened training camp. “All that stuff’s going to come out, unless it comes out some kind of other way. Once we play the game, I’ll be willing to talk about some of that stuff,” Babers told reporters on Monday.Below are some key takeaways from the Orange’s Week 1 depth chart:AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe not-listedFive expected contributors were left off the depth chart. Players can return during the season under NCAA rules, so the omission doesn’t necessarily mean that the players have opted out of the season.Running backs Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard, guard Dakota Davis, linebacker Tyrell Richards and transfer offensive lineman Chris Bleich were not listed on the depth chart. As of Monday, none of those players have publicly opted out.Adams and Howard were projected to be the one-two punch in a backfield that lost Moe Neal when he graduated in the spring. But last week, both Adams and Howard were omitted from a team recap of a scrimmage, leading to questions about their statuses on the team. As SU’s second string back last year, Adams averaged 30.5 rushing yards per game and scored three touchdowns. Howard, more of a short-yardage power back, recorded nearly identical stats (30.6 ypg, 3 TD). Without the duo, redshirt freshman Jawhar Jordan and redshirt junior Markenzy Pierre will assume the workload.The unavailability of Davis and Bleich hurts an offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked 101st out of 130 FBS teams in 2019. Bleich, a transfer from Florida, submitted his waiver for immediate eligibility in April but reportedly hasn’t heard back from the NCAA. “We’re not allowed to talk about all that stuff because it’s tied into the NCAA,” Babers said Aug. 24. “I will say that we’re really interested in hearing some news so we can decide what’s going on with him.” Richards, a redshirt junior and special teams standout, recently expressed discomfort with playing sports during a time of racial unrest in the United States. Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the linebacker tweeted, “Why am I playing in a country to entertain people that don’t care about our well being unless we’re on the field. F*** playing sports, we don’t need to distract them from s***, make everyone look at what’s really going on because at the end of the day … I AM JACOB BLAKE.”  Where is Chris Elmore playing? Elmore said earlier this summer that he’s been lining up numerous different spots during camp, but his listing as a left guard on the depth chart is by far the biggest surprise. There, Elmore will join Airon Servais, Chris Vettorrello, Darius Tisdale and Matthew Bergeron on an offensive line that struggled in 2019. Moving Elmore, who’s played fullback, tight end and defensive tackle, could be related to Davis’ absence. Babers has also said that some offensive linemen were banged up during camp. The 6-foot, 288-pound utility man from Chicago considered opting out of the season early on during training camp before committing to going “all-in.” Elmore has recorded nine total tackles, 65 rushing yards on 28 carries, three touchdowns and one reception in his career. Notably, the senior wears a No. 5 jersey, which is not permitted for offensive lineman in college football. Ineligible players, who can’t receive forward passes, must wear numbers between 50 and 79.Position switch-ups Preseason All-American Andre Cisco will be SU’s first rover, a position unique to the 3-3-5 defense. Cisco, the active FBS leader in interceptions (12), will now be tasked with playing deep coverage in the middle and joining the box to stop the run. His athleticism and ability to read the quarterback should make him an effective rover. He’s also proven to be a strong open-field tackler — he has 87 solo tackles in 22 career games. Eric Coley, who’s listed at boundary safety, told reporters that he’s also been practicing the rover position. He and Cisco may be used interchangeably. “We’ve got guys that know more positions, so if someone goes down, it’s easy to move somebody over and they already know what they’re doing,” Coley said Sept. 1. “Don’t really need much practice. So I feel like that’s why the switch happened.” Other noteworthy position changes since spring include Garrett Williams, who moved from third to first string cornerback. Williams redshirted last year but will now have an important role in the defensive back-heavy 3-3-5. True freshman Stefon Thompson will start at strong-side linebacker, another unexpected move on the defense. He came to Syracuse rated the No. 41 inside linebacker in his home state of North Carolina, per 247 Sports. “No football teams have gone through what all the teams have gone through this year,” Babers said. “Coaches really have to take a step back and players are really going to get to step up.” Comments Published on September 7, 2020 at 2:25 pm Contact Danny: dremerma@syr.edu | @DannyEmermanlast_img read more