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Opponent Breakdown: Syracuse Orange Defense

NCAA Football: Liberty at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville Football has a young roster. Syracuse has an absurdly young roster. The Orange defensive depth chart has 16 players that are listed as freshmen or sophomores and they will have plenty of true freshmen that will play important roles on the defensive side of the ball. While Cuse has had some ups and downs on defense this year, Dino Babers has to be happy with the performance of his group this year.

The defensive front is where the Orange shine. Josh Black is a veteran of the program and he has remained a consistent performer during his time there. He has six tackles for loss on the year and leads a really impressive group. Cody Roscoe is an outstanding pass rusher He is tied with Yasir Abdullah for the ACC lead in tackles for loss. Black and Roscoe are one of the best defensive end combos UofL has seen this year. The Orange also have Kingsley Jonathan who is no slouch himself.

One of my favorite players in the ACC is Mikel Jones. The Sophomore leads the team with 79 tackles and he is all over the field any time you watch the Orange. Jones is similar to James Skalski in the way that he can blow up an offensive game plan. UofL has to account for him. Stefon Thompson and Marlowe Max are also really impressive players on the outside. Louisville worked the edges well last weekend but I think they could have some of the issues they had against NC State with this scheme and the speed the Orange have.

The youngest group on the defense is the secondary. That was the case last season and Louisville quarterbacks completed 70% of their passes. Things could be different this year as Syracuse has Duce Chestnut playing at a high level as a true freshman at one spot and Garrett Williams with a full year of experience at the other corner spot. Williams picked off Malik Cunningham last year and he’s become more of a complete corner with 5 tackles for loss and 8 PBUs. UofL looked to exploit this group last year but they ended up with two interceptions. That can’t happen against an improved Syracuse team this season.

The safety group is solid but they’ve lost a lot of talent from the previous few seasons. The group as a whole hasn’t made a lot of plays this season and I think they have been able to ride a very good pass rush when it comes to pass defense and a fantastic linebacker group when it comes to run defense. If there is an area that UofL can look to take advantage of it’s the back end of the defense.