Syracuse Football: Top 3 beneficiaries of the DC Zach Arnett hire

Syracuse football has hired a new DC in Zach Arnett. Here are the top three players that will benefit from his new defense in 2020.

After running the “Tampa-2” for years, the Syracuse football team is expected to transition to a hybrid version of the 3-3-5 in 2020.

This news, of course, stems from the formal announcement that the Orange has hired former San Diego State defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to the same position on the hill. Arnett was an understudy to Rocky Long for his entire career.

This will be a completely revamped defense with different concepts and personnel.

Arnett had great success with the Aztecs leading their defense to national prominence in seven different categories:

  • Second best rush defense in the country (allowed under 76 yards per game).
  • Third best scoring defense in the nation (allowing under 13 points per game).
  • San Diego hauled in 18 interceptions as a team which was fourth-best in the country.
  • In addition to that, the secondary of San Diego State allowed the team to finish sixth in passing efficiency defense.
  • Fourth best in first downs allowed (198) on the season.
  • In terms of overall defense, the Aztecs were sixth-best (under 290 yards allowed per game).
  • Finally, the team was eight in turnovers gained (27).

When you look at some of the most productive players on the San Diego State defense it gives Syracuse football fans a sneak peek of what they could see in 2020.

Trill Williams, defensive back

In the 3-3-5 defense, one player is responsible for the ‘rover’ role which is a hybrid of a safety and a linebacker that plays closer to the line of scrimmage. Trill Williams can be that guy in this new-look defense.

In Rocky Long’s version of this defense, Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher thrived in that role (prior to him bulking up and playing middle linebacker in the NFL).

McKinley Williams, defensive tackle

It’s bittersweet that McKinley Williams is even available to be an option. 2019 was supposed to be his senior season, but injuries derailed that possibility. So he was able to successfully redshirt and now 2020 he’ll be back with vengeance in a new scheme. He’s not a big sack guy (1.5 career sacks), but in this scheme, the defensive line needs to open up lanes for the linebackers.

Mikel Jones, linebacker

The 3-3-5 defense is a versatile front that can morph into a 4-3, 4-4, or a 3-4 defense with the same starting players. Mikel Jones will play an important role whether that’s as the “Mike” linebacker who flows to the ball and makes plays.

Or even as one of the “Stud” linebackers or outside backers who can pressure the trenches. It’s important to have a smart head on your shoulders because these players are responsible for reading and reacting live as the play develops.

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Mikel showed a lot of promise last season and earned a role as a freshman in certain sub-packages. With Lakiem Williams and Andrew Armstrong gone there’s a huge void at the linebacker spot that’ll have to be filled by someone.

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