Freshman safety Williams shines after colonel pumps up SU defense and other defensive observations at Fort Drum

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — With his defense in need of a bit of motivation, Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer turned to one of Fort Drum’s own.

Shafer had Dave Doyle, commander of the second brigade combat team at Fort Drum, speak to his defensive unit before scrimmaging against the Orange offense.

“He did a great job with them,” Shafer said after the scrimmage. “He got that defense juiced up to play, because I think the offense had a little better day yesterday. And I think the colonel wanted the defense to fly around and I thought the kids answered the bell.”

Here are three major defensive takeaways from SU’s intra-squad scrimmage Thursday afternoon: 

1. Rodney Williams


After a strong showing during the FanFest scrimmage on Saturday, the freshman safety was even more impressive at Fort Drum on Thursday. 

Early in the exhibition, Williams wrapped up receiver Ben Lewis in the open field at the line of scrimmage for minimal gain. On the next play, Terrel Hunt tried to hit Lewis in the flat, but Williams laid out and nearly picked it off.

A few snaps later, Hunt tried to connect with receiver Austin Broyld on a fade route in the end zone, but Williams came over from his free safety spot and got a piece of the ball to deflect it away. Although Hunt and Broyld beat Williams and the SU defense with the same exact route on the next snap, the freshman made the defense’s biggest play of the scrimmage three plays later.

Williams picked off a Hunt pass over the middle of the field and made a few players miss before being brought down after a return of about 10 yards.

2. Swatting passes at the line

The Orange defense swatted a couple of passes down at the line during the FanFest scrimmage, but the group topped that amount on Thursday.

Quarterback Austin Wilson’s first attempt of the day was batted just after he released it. Nose tackle Wayne Williams was all over Wilson’s first pass on his second drive, and two snaps later a high-flying Williams denied another Wilson throw.

3. Dyshawn Davis

Although Davis whiffed on bringing down Broyld in the open field twice on the first four plays — and maybe the slick conditions had something to do with that — the linebacker was the first one to the ball carrier and slowed him down for his teammates to make the tackle.

During Mitch Kimble’s first drive, Davis delivered the biggest hit of the scrimmage by laying the hammer on recently converted receiver Troy Green just as he hauled in a pass in the flat.

Other notes:

•For the second scrimmage in a row, Corey Winfield couldn’t handle Jarrod West. West beat Winfield for a long touchdown in Saturday’s FanFest scrimmage and on Thursday, the senior wide receiver beat the new cornerback again for a gain of about 45 yards down the left sideline. It set the SU offense up with a first down inside the 10-yard line. Winfield made the move from wide receiver to cornerback at the beginning of training camp.

•The SU defensive line was able to apply some pressure on the quarterbacks, and if the linemen couldn’t get the quarterbacks, they at least forced the signal-callers to make quicker decisions. Micah Robinson stripped the ball from Kimble’s grasp for a fumble and a turnover. Williams was active at the line against the pass as well as the run and defensive end Donnie Simmons collected a sack. The defense also added a would-be sack of Wilson toward the end of the scrimmage.

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