Syracuse shuffles defensive linemen through front in search of stability

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ As of right now, there are no defensive tackles in the Syracuse locker room. There are no nose tackles or defensive ends, either. Only defensive linemen.That’s the way defensive line coach Tim Daoust and the rest of the Syracuse coaching staff are addressing the units at least, shuffling them regularly through spring ball in search of finding a successful rotation.With Jay Bromley off to the NFL, the group is left with no leader and a number of questions.“It’s really been by committee,” Daoust said. “We’re playing a lot of guys in there.”With three rising seniors — nose tackle Eric Crume and defensive ends Micah Robinson and Robert Welsh — there is experience on the line, but the production has been limited. The trio managed just seven sacks and 17.5 combined tackles for loss last season, compared to Bromley’s 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss despite regular double teams.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEach showed flashes of potential, but none were consistent playmakers.“It’s a different road that I’m not used to as far as being a leader,” Crume said, “but I’ve just got to step into my role and keep getting better. Like everybody else on the D-line, we’ve just got to keep getting better.”Also in the mix are rising senior nose tackle Ryan Sloan and junior defensive tackle Marcus Coleman, rising sophomore defensive end Isaiah Johnson and Ron Thompson, a rising junior tight end-turned-defensive end.And by fall, it’s possible 6-foot-4, 330-pound junior college transfer Wayne Williams could crack the rotation, as well.But currently, he’s focused solely on improving his conditioning. Defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said he can only go for 5-10 plays at full speed.“When we first got to winter running, it was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s out of shape,’” Bullough said. “He was huge.”Sloan and Coleman have gotten first-team snaps in Syracuse’s Okie and other three-down linemen sets, while Daoust emphasized Johnson’s improved conditioning and Thompson’s elite talent.But in the team’s open practice last Tuesday, the highlights for the group came few and far between.A swim move by Welsh, playing right defensive end, led to his swatting of a Terrel Hunt pass attempt, and ensuing championship belt celebration.Surrounding that, though, were five lengthy touchdowns and limited pressure on the quarterback.“Developing leaders right now is essential for our defensive unit,” Coleman said.Last year, Bromley would keep the group in line after a lengthy running play or ineffective pass rush. As of now, no one has stepped up.Crume, Robinson and Welsh seem to be the logical choices, but none have filled the role yet. And none have the talent that the NFL-bound Bromley did even as a rising senior.It’s clear there will need to be more balanced production from the group. But only time and repetition will tell which defensive linemen become tackles and ends, and which are pushed to the back of the pack.Said Coleman: “We’re trying to be one of the most aggressive and attacking defenses in the country.” Comments Published on April 15, 2014 at 12:10 am Contact Stephen: sebail01@syr.edu | @Stephen_Bailey1last_img read more

Women take third, men 20th at NCAA Track and Field Championships

first_imgKatie Chin | Daily TrojanTrojan spirit · Freshman Kayla Richardson and the USC track team finished their season last weekend at the NCAA Championships. The men’s team came in 20th at the end of the four-day meet in Eugene, Ore., and the women’s squad boosted itself to third place with a strong final day.The USC track team finished its NCAA Championships on Saturday, as the six-month season culminated in last week’s meet against the nation’s elite programs at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The men’s squad finished 20th overall and second among Pac-12 schools — behind only ninth-place host Oregon. The Trojans clinched a third overall finish on the women’s side, sliding in behind the champion Ducks and runner-up Georgia.The men kicked off the NCAA Championships on Wednesday, and USC scored six points to end the first day of the meet tied for 14th in a field of 78 teams. Redshirt juniors Eric Sloan and Nick Ponzio finished sixth in the long jump and shot put, respectively. Freshman Michael Norman punched a ticket to the 400m dash finals alongside redshirt sophomore Marquís Morris, who qualified for Friday’s 110m hurdles finals.USC’s women began their quest for a national title on Thursday, and the Trojans matched their male counterparts identically on the scoreboard, ending the day in 14th place with six points. Unlike the previous day, however, USC scored thanks to one third-place finish from redshirt senior Brittany Mann, and eight Trojans also advanced to Saturday’s event finals.Norman and Morris returned to action on Friday, as they looked to score points in the men’s event finals. Norman took home fourth in the 400m dash with a personal-best time of 44.88 seconds. The performance earned USC five points and also marked the fifth-fastest time ever run by a Trojan in the 400m final. Norman also improved on his program freshman record and earned a seventh-place standing on USC’s all-time list.Morris scored three points after finishing sixth in the 110m hurdles finals, becoming the first USC runner to score in the event since 2014. The Trojans finished the NCAA Championships with a total of 14 points, which tied them with Penn State for 20th overall.Finally, USC ended the weekend with a bang on Saturday, as the women’s event finals lifted the team to a third-place finish. The Trojans’ 43 points overall were the program’s most since a 57-point showing more than a decade ago (2002).Freshman Anna Cockrell and senior Amalie Iuel headlined USC’s final day at Hayward Field, as the pair clinched a 2-3 finish in the 400m hurdles to score 14 key points. Cockrell clocked a season-best time of 55.36 seconds, moving up to third on the program’s all-time list. Cockrell also scored a point for the Trojans with an eighth-place finish in the 100m hurdles alongside redshirt sophomore Dior Hall, who came in seventh.Junior Kendall Ellis earned USC’s final top-three finish of the weekend, as she took third in the 400m dash final with a time of 51.06 seconds. Senior Cameron Pettigrew trailed in seventh place (52.52) to combine with Ellis for eight points. Redshirt sophomore Ky Westbrook and junior Deanna Hill rounded out the individual Trojan scoring with eighth and sixth-place finishes in the 100m and 200m dash, respectively.The championships’ pivotal moment came in the final event, however, as USC’s 4x400m relay team claimed second to boost the Trojans from sixth to third place overall, leapfrogging Florida and Kentucky. Pettigrew, Ieul, Hill and Ellis’ combined time of 3:23.35 beat the previous collegiate record of 3:23.75, but Oregon still finished 0.22 seconds ahead of USC to set the new record and clinch a national title. With only eight seniors graduating from a deep roster before the start of next season, the Trojans now set their sights on next spring, when they will look to build on their strong showing in Eugene.last_img read more