Syracuse’s All-American safety Andre Cisco was injured during pregame warmups prior to the Georgia Tech game. He was ruled out for the season a couple of weeks later, and then declared for the NFL Draft. Cisco was one of the better defensive playmakers in college football as the FBS active leader in interceptions. But his absence has led to a decline in a perhaps unexpected area.
In the first two games of the season, Syracuse’s defense was quite good. They forced turnovers, got after the quarterback, stopped the run and limited the big play. Both of those games Cisco started and played nearly all of the defensive of snaps. Since the injury, he has not played a snap over the last three games. With that, the Orange defense has fallen apart.
While they have actually increased the rate in which they force turnovers, nearly every other metric has deteriorated. Take a look at the numbers.
Two Games With Cisco
Three Games Without Cisco
Turnovers Forced Per Game
Without Cisco, Syracuse is allowing six more points, 137 more total yards, 182 more rushing yards, 2.4 more yards per carry, are sacking the quarterback less and allow third down conversions at a higher rate. It is stating the obvious that none of those are good things.
That is the impact of losing an All-American safety. It goes beyond just the interceptions and the big highlight reel plays. It is felt on every down throughout a game. It is about leadership, experience, getting young guys in the right position, etc. There are intangibles that come along with having a player of that caliber.
Without him, the lack of those intangibles are manifesting themselves in tangible ways.