SYRACUSE — Christopher Fredrick is committed to embodying one of the preferred phrases of Syracuse University football coach Dino Babers: “Be consistently good, not occasionally great.”
The redshirt senior cornerback will make his 38th straight start when SU (3-3 overall, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) hosts Pittsburgh (4-2, 1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at the Carrier Dome for the 75th all-time matchup between the ACC foes and former Big East rivals, which will be televised on ESPN.
Fredrick’s active streak of consecutive starts ranks as the second-longest among FBS cornerbacks behind Virginia’s Bryce Hall (39) and leads all players from the Orange defense and offense.
“I take a lot of pride in being consistent,” Fredrick said. “I think it’s a big accomplishment being able to play that many games, start that many games. I’m blessed.”
Fredrick has thrived as a dependable contributor to SU’s secondary while working through one of the heaviest academic workloads on the team as a computer engineering major. He is expected to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in December.
Babers stated during the preseason that he and the staff worked with Fredrick to help balance his demanding schedule, occasionally shifting practice times or allowing him to miss portions, because he proved himself capable of ensuring the circumstances didn’t hinder his performance.
Fredrick leads SU with six passes defended, including an interception to go with five breakups, and has also recovered a fumble through six games. His five pass breakups already represent a career high and he enters Friday night’s matchup with six career interceptions.
“You just try not to think about it too far ahead,” Fredrick said. “Take it all day by day, you know, take it (school) assignment by assignment, and game by game. I get things done whenever I have time and the next thing you know you’re done with that class, and that’s kind of how it works.”
Fredrick’s reliability has been especially vital while the Orange has endured the past three games with two starters absent from the secondary — preseason All-American safety Andre Cisco and fellow starting outside cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu — who each have been out with lower-body injuries.
Babers said Monday that he didn’t know the status of either player moving forward but that he “would imagine it’s exactly the same,” for Friday night’s game.
SU still ranks third in the FBS in total passes defended entering this week and the defense has generated a takeaway in 20 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Mississippi State (22). The unit’s streak of 17 straight games with an interception, which was recently snapped, is tied with three other teams for the third longest stretch of the past 15 years.
“We knew since the spring that we would have a lot of depth in the secondary,” Fredrick said. “Guys like Antwan Cordy and Trill (Williams) play multiple positions well and it’s kind of the next man in thing. We don’t harp on it like, ‘he’s out and he’s out’ so we get down or anything, it’s just next man in and those guys know what to do. Guys like (senior backup) Scoop (Bradshaw), he’s played a lot of games, too, so it’s just, next man up.”
Fredrick and the SU secondary face a daunting task on Friday night against the ACC’s top pass-catching duo. Panthers’ wide receiver Maurice Ffrench leads the conference with 50 catches while teammate Taysir Mack ranks third in both total catches (41) and receiving yards per game (85.2).
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett ranks second in the ACC in passing yards (274) and yards of total offense (287.2) per game.
“There are a lot of dynamic playmakers out there and talented guys, but we’ve got talented guys,” SU defensive end Kendall Coleman said. “I trust our guys in the back end like Chris (Fredrick) to come up and make plays just like they’re expecting us to go make plays up front, so if we play as a unit, I’m optimistic in what we can do.”
Fredrick said that he plans to pursue an invite to the NFL Training Combine when his SU career ends at the end of this season, and is interested in potentially coaching the sport in the future.
“I could see myself trying to put my degree to use somewhere down the line, but I don’t really ever want to leave the game,” Fredrick said.
FSU GAME TIME ANNOUNCED
The Syracuse-Florida State game on Oct. 26 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and be televised on either the ACC Network, ESPN, or ESPN2. The ACC announced kickoff times for all Oct. 26 games earlier this week.
The Seminoles (3-3, 2-2) are coming off a 45-14 loss at Clemson and are slated to play at Wake Forest on Saturday. SU beat Florida State, 30-7, last year in the Carrier Dome for its first victory in the series since 1966.
HOFRICHTER PROVING SPECIAL
SU punter Sterling Hofrichter has done his part to mitigate the recent struggles of the SU offense. The senior is tied with three others for the FBS lead with 15 punts of 50-plus yards, and ranks fourth in the nation with 18 punts downed inside the 20.
Hofrichter ranks 12th nationally in gross punting average (46 yards) and his career mark of 43.4 ranks second in Orange history. The senior has started 43 straight games which marks the second-longest streak among FBS specialists, one behind Wyoming kicker Cooper Rothe.
SU ranks second nationally in net punting average (45.2), recording 1,703 yards on 37 punts while allowing a total of 12 return yards. The Orange is leading the ACC in that category for the third straight year.
SU PLAYERS INK PRO DEALS
Former SU quarterback Eric Dungey was signed to the Cleveland Browns practice squad last Friday. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Dungey was not selected in last April’s NFL Draft and signed as a rookie free agent with the New York Giants before being released in July. Dungey initially worked out for the Browns (2-3 overall) in September.
The dynamic dual-threat finished his SU career last year as the program’s all-time leading passer (9,340 yards) and established or tied 24 program records during his four seasons as the starter.
Earlier this week, former SU offensive guard Andrew Tiller was selected in the fourth round of the XFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Vipers, one of eight teams in the league that will relaunch next February after a failed one-season stint in 2001.
Tiller was an All-Big East selection as a senior in 2011 and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2012. Tiller was one of five former SU players that garnered an XFL draft invitation, including Dungey, who declined.