(SU ATHLETICS) - The excitement continues to build for the Syracuse football team's Friday night football game against UConn in the Carrier Dome (8 p.m.; ESPN). A main focal point for the Orange this week has been turnovers. While the offense has been practicing on preventing them, the defense has been working on creating them.
"There's a couple of different ways when you talk about creating fumbles," head coach Doug Marrone
said. "One is you hit the guy so hard that he drops the ball. That's really the most basic thing. The second thing is the first person goes in there for the tackle, secures the tackle and the next person goes in and takes the ball out. What we have done here, right, wrong or indifferent, my focus was to make sure that we're tackling and that has been a problem that we've had."
At Orange practice, various turnover prevention drills have been added for the offense.
"When we start playing this game, from when we were in kindergarten, we always talked about ball security," Marrone said. "The focus has to be on it constantly. We've worked on all the things we can do from a standpoint of practice time. We spent the maximum time of practice time on that to a point where we have cut things out to work on it and emphasize it. We run stations of drills that we rotate through that focus on turnovers. We have run specific drills for that. From the player's standpoint it's the focus and knowing how to take a hit and go down with the ball and how to cover it up in traffic and also knowing when to go down sometimes."
With a quick turnover between its game on Saturday at Rutgers to hosting UConn on Friday night, the Orange's weekly practice schedule had to be adjusted.
"I've been in a lot of short week situations before and from a coaching aspect, your focus goes to making sure that the players are ready to play on Friday," Marrone said. "You make sure that they can play at a level that you can win with, meaning both physically and mentally. I think the challenge is more of how you practice in and what periods. There comes to a point where we'll start taking some of that off and practicing on some of the other situations so you can get the players fresh for a Friday night."