Brent Venables has a top-25 unit in scoring defense (25), third down defense (11) tackles for loss (4), sacks (6), forced fumbles (17), first downs (22) and three and outs (9).
His breakdown through four weeks…
Syracuse QBs Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen, running backs: They’ve been very efficient with what they’re doing. It’s the same offense with both quarterbacks. They’re both big strong, mobile guys. They’re going to run the football and setup playaction kind of like N.C. State where you’ll see both spread and two tight ends and two-back sets. They’ve got two big receivers and two strong backs. One that runs downhill (Jerome Smith) and a smaller, shiftier more explosive one (Prince Tyson-Gulley) that can make you miss in the hole.
Bashaud Breeland’s play: He’s just disciplined and doing the little things the right way. He’s disciplined with his eyes and doing the right thing. He’s a lot more confident and consistent.
Early season sacks: I felt that that would be a strength. I don’t put a whole lot of stock into what you’re ranked and those things, but I really felt that the front would be a strength for us and it played out to be true.
The expectation is that they would play well. They have. I’ve been real pleased that way and they’ve shown some depth there.
Building safety depth versus Wake: I was pleased with a lot of it. I was glad they were able to get a lot of reps in competitive situations prior to the second half. What you take out of it is that you feel confident that they’ll continue to progress.
Hopefully it means we’ll get better and better and our execution. The guys that are doing it will be fresher and stronger and all of the things you want in regards to execution.
Cornerbacks’ improvement: They’re better there. They’re still working at getting better fundamentally and tackling and working on all the details. We’ve shown to be more consistent at this point and better awareness and understanding of what we need to do. As a result, they’re just playing in a more physical way.
Tony Steward’s play: He came in and played well. I’m happy for him and he’ll help us at that position. He did a great job.
Big play reduction on defense: It’s just fundamentally keeping the ball in front of us and again everybody doing their job and not trying to do too much. We’ve certainly not been completely void of the big play – but we’ve made progress against explosive plays and we have to continue to do so.
It makes it a lot easier defensively and in sync and in a groove because you want guys to trust every snap. When you’re not doing that, those (big plays) are backbreakers emotionally and physically. If they’re going to be successful, you have to make (offenses) work for it.