Syracuse’s cornerbacks utilize their different sizes to an advantage

first_img Comments Published on November 13, 2018 at 11:21 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Graham For all nine of Syracuse’s games prior to Friday against Louisville, the same pair of cornerbacks — junior Scoop Bradshaw and redshirt junior Chris Fredrick — started.But on Friday, SU head coach Dino Babers ran out freshman Trill Williams to start the game.In opting for the 6-foot-2 Williams over a 5-foot-11 Bradshaw, Babers introduced a different type of cornerback into No. 12 Syracuse’s (8-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) starting lineup. Williams and his redshirt freshman counterpart Ifeatu Melifonwu (6-foot-3) are both taller and bigger than Bradshaw or the 5-foot-11 Fredrick.When on the field, the shorter cornerbacks leverage good positioning and technique to win matchups while their younger teammates can rely on physicality and instincts. Recently, due to injuries and poor play, the freshmen have been pressed into duty.“They can do a lot of things that we can’t do,” Bradshaw said on Oct. 16 of Williams and Melifonwu. “They’re very athletic.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWilliams has seen action against Western Michigan in the season opener and every game since, either at nickel or cornerback. Melifonwu first played significant minutes for an injured Bradshaw against North Carolina.Matched up mainly against the Tar Heels’ No. 1 receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Melifonwu shined, leaping and using his long arms and big frame to block off Ratliff-Williams and breaking up four passes. He broke up two passes on a UNC three-and-out late in the fourth quarter.“I saw like three PBUs,” Babers said after the comeback win, “which is really good. He’s got long arms. He can stay close to people.”Melifonwu and Williams’ long-armed, physical style isn’t a viable option for Fredrick or Bradshaw. The smaller corners need to stick on receivers’ hip-to-hip and position themselves with a chance to play the ball while running routes alongside wideouts.Fredrick did that perfectly when he intercepted a pass against Florida State in Week 3, stepping inside the wideout and reading quarterback Deondre Francois’ eyes to cut off the pass and take it the other way. He did the same thing for a game-sealing interception against Wake Forest two Saturdays ago.Laura Angle | Digital Design EditorWith Fredrick and Bradshaw for the most part doing their jobs, fill-in duty — either spelling or relieving an injured player — has been the most common path to playing time for Melifonwu and Williams this year. But with a spat of injuries throughout the position group since the bye, there’s been more time for the youngsters to see the field.Against UNC, when Melifonwu came on, Williams was already in for an injured Fredrick. Bradshaw left the Louisville game and came back from the locker room with a sling on his left arm Friday. His status going forward is questionable, but Babers said Monday he hopes both Bradshaw and Melifonwu — who’s missed time with a pulled hamstring — will be healthy come Saturday.Friday was the first time Babers started Williams or Melifonwu over his established pair of starters. Bradshaw’s benching came after a couple of rough outings for the junior against North Carolina State and Wake Forest.In recent weeks, Bradshaw said he’s had lapses, like the deep pass he allowed to Kelvin Harmon when NC State came to the Dome on Oct. 27. On the play, Bradshaw played off Harmon, just not far enough. Standing at four or five yards off the line of scrimmage, Bradshaw was a few yards too close and didn’t provide enough room to counteract Harmon’s speed, Bradshaw said.“That’s all it took,” Bradshaw added.The next week at Wake Forest, Bradshaw got beat badly, twice, on double moves by wideout Scotty Washington. One went incomplete because of a badly thrown ball, but the second was a walk-in touchdown for Washington.So after his consecutive bad starts, Bradshaw took a seat at the start of the Louisville game. On Monday he was listed as the starter on the two-deep depth chart for Syracuse’s upcoming game against No. 3 Notre Dame.But whether Bradshaw does or doesn’t start, he’ll play some, as will Fredrick, Williams and if he’s healthy, Melifonwu.Against the Irish, which ranks 45th nationally in passing yards per game, 14th in completion percentage and gets starting quarterback Ian Book back from injury Saturday, Syracuse is going to need them.center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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