Parris Bennett has the edge for 3rd linebacker spot and other notes

first_imgWith two of the three starting linebacker spots taken by sophomore Zaire Franklin and junior Marqez Hodge, the battle for the third is leaning in favor of another sophomore. Parris Bennett, who made four tackles in eight games last year, has the edge over sophomore Jonathan Thomas and senior Oliver Vigille, head coach Scott Shafer said at his Wednesday press conference.“We’ve got a little bit of a battle going on between those guys,” Shafer said. “Parris probably is a little bit ahead of both those guys as we speak today.”Shafer said Bennett is the best athlete of the three, Thomas has the fastest straight-line speed and Vigille is versatile and has been playing more inside the box. Linebackers coach Clark Lea trains them to play all three linebacker positions, Shafer added, and they’ll often bounce around during practice.The head coach pinpointed an instance from practice when Thomas “put a knife” on hybrid Erv Phillips as he looked like he was about to cut the corner. But as of now, Bennett looks to be the one to complement Franklin and Hodge in the defensive unit where Syracuse returns the most experience.Other notable points from Shafer’s press conferenceAdvertisementThis is placeholder textShafer touched on the improvements of running backs George Morris and Devante McFarlane, who’ll be tasked with improving on the two combined touchdowns from SU’s running backs last year.Shafer: “Individually, George Morris ran the ball well today. He sprung loose on a couple of plays, it was great to see, and he had good burst. Devante McFarlane did a nice job as well, he had a couple good plays inside. He was really good in his pass protection as well…which is one of those things as we’ve watched George and Devante develop, it’s been a point of emphasis.”Ben Lewis will be tasked with moving from wide receiver to hybrid and Shafer highlighted a couple areas of transition that he’s been impressed with in Lewis.Shafer: “I was interested to see kind of the trial in the spring with Ben running the ball. He’s a good, strong physical runner.”Shafer also added that Lewis has maintained his blocks well, which the head coach called the biggest concern when taking a skill player and moving him to a position like hybrid.Shafer said redshirt freshman Rodney Williams, who has been catching punts, also returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown.Freshmen defensive linemen Qaadir Sheppard, Jake Pickard and Amir Ealey all got mentions from Shafer when discussing a freshman defensive and offensive linemen group he raves over.Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Denzel Ward didn’t practice and rode a stationary bike for the open portion of Wednesday’s practice. He wore a right ankle brace and Shafer said it was a lower-body injury that’s carried over for a while.Shafer said it was “hell on wheels” getting freshman defensive tackle Steven Clark to stay committed to Syracuse after Florida and others showed late interest, and that he’ll become a “very good football player.” Comments Published on August 12, 2015 at 8:33 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidmancenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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