Syracuse football to use 2-linebacker rotation if Zaire Franklin can’t play

first_img Published on November 25, 2016 at 3:40 pm Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langer Early in the second quarter against Florida State, running back Dalvin Cook took a carry, juked right past Syracuse’s Kenneth Ruff and scampered up field for a 14-yard gain. The FSU star had made yet another defender miss, but there were problems bigger than the holes in the defense.Zaire Franklin was down, grabbing at his leg. After staying on the ground for a few minutes, he was helped off by two trainers. Redshirt freshman Troy Henderson, who’s been second on the depth chart all year but hadn’t played since the South Florida game, replaced him. The next series, true freshman Andrew Armstrong filled that role.“Before the game we actually had a plan if Zaire ended up coming out of the game,” Armstrong said. “Me and Troy were going to split reps based on certain personnel that they ran.”Armstrong declined to say what the certain situations were.For the past two seasons, Franklin has guided Syracuse’s (4-7, 2-5 Atlantic Coast) defense, starting every game and rarely leaving the field. He said after the game that he expects to suit up in the Orange’s last regular-season game against Pittsburgh (7-4, 4-3) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. If he can’t go, Henderson and Armstrong will back him up.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMORE COVERAGE:Eric Dungey doubtful to play against PittsburghHow Syracuse can sneak into a bowl gameWho you should root for if you want SU to make a bowl Head coach Dino Babers talked after the FSU game about how linebackers struggle to enter the lineup when Franklin and Parris Bennett fill two starting spots. Both are in the top 10 in the ACC in tackles. This late in the season, he said that the rotation was more about just getting them looks.“I just think that both of them deserve to play,” Babers said during Monday’s press conference. “Zaire plays so much you’re just not sure what you have behind him … we just wanted to play both.”Armstrong has, in some capacity, played every game this year. Before Franklin went down, he was on the field and had recorded a quarterback hurry, getting in the face of FSU quarterback Deondre Francois. Throughout the first quarter, he was on the field in certain pass-rushing situations.But when Franklin went down and Armstrong started playing in the middle linebacker role more, he stopped blitzing as much.And despite not playing since mid-September, Henderson was ready to go when Franklin went down.“We’ve been rotating for awhile,” Henderson said of he and Armstrong. “Every week during the week I try to prepare myself.”Henderson said he figured Armstrong would get the first shot, since he was the “two,” but every game since the start of the year, Henderson had been listed as the second option on the two-deep depth chart. Henderson is again listed behind Franklin ahead of SU’s matchup with Pitt, while Armstrong is listed in the same spot with only “Or” separating the two backups.Armstrong said the specific plan for splitting snaps with Henderson against FSU hadn’t happened every week, but it was unique before Syracuse’s most recent game. Franklin had been dealing with a nagging injury that he’d been playing through.While Franklin is hoping to suit up against Pitt, if for some reason he can’t go, it’ll be up to two largely inexperienced players to try to fill the void. Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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