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Dino Babers says ACC can’t review Kendall Coleman’s targeting penalty

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Coleman’s first-half suspension was one of several topics Babers addressed on the ACC coaches teleconference.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive end Kendall Coleman’s targeting penalty against Wake Forest will not be reviewed by the ACC, Syracuse coach Dino Babers announced on the ACC coaches teleconference on Wednesday. As a result, the starting defensive lineman will, in fact, be suspended for the first half against Virginia Tech.

The ACC does not review targeting penalties after a game, Babers said – a rule, he revealed, he only recently learned about.

“I learned that in our ACC conference, they’re not allowed to review something like that. Whatever the final decision was at the game, it does not go to a review process,” Babers said. “Therefore, he will not be able to play in the first half.”

Coleman was called for targeting in the fourth quarter of Syracuse’s 28-9 loss to Wake Forest last Friday. Coleman came in late, clearly hitting Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford after the ball already left his hand. Replays, however, show it is unclear whether Coleman lowered his head to lead with the crown of his helmet or specifically targeted Wolford’s head or neck area – both of which are defined as targeting.

While speaking with the media on Monday, Babers called it “a bang-bang play.”

Coleman, a true freshman, has started every game at defensive end for the Orange this season. Babers said redshirt-senior De’Jon Wilson will start the first half in Coleman’s place.

Experience Matters

Syracuse’s lack of experience is nothing new, but when comparing the Orange’s young roster to Virginia Tech’s, one brimming with veteran talent, the experience gap between the two is shocking.

In his opening remarks, Babers revealed the Hokies have nine players with 20 or more starts, while the Orange only have two. The lack of experience has led to several mental errors on the football field, Babers said.

“When you start putting talented young players on the football field, they’re still young,” Babers said. “You get them against some experience guys that are older and more mature, and there’s going to be physical breakdowns.

“And then you start to get into the scheme of things where the other coaches can be extremely creative with some of the things that they’re doing, as far as pressures and things like that. And with not having a lot of experience on the offensive side, especially in the interior offensive line, it can be very difficult for them to handle some of the things mentally that are going on.”

To the NFL, and Beyond

During the three-year tenure of ex-Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, which featured a passing offense filled with bubble screens and short three-yard completions, it would have been laughable to suggest an Orange receiver could potentially hear his name called during the NFL Draft.

However, thanks to Babers’ vertical passing attack and graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo’s breakout season, the chances of a Syracuse wide receiver being drafted is no longer a far-fetched joke.

Despite a lackluster performance against Wake Forest, Etta-Tawo still leads the NCAA with 876 receiving yards, in addition to hauling in six touchdowns. Babers said Etta-Tawo’s ability to quickly grasp the offense has had a large impact on the fifth-year senior’s productive season, and why he’s receiving NFL interest.

“He’s really, probably, adapted to the offensive system faster than anyone else on the offensive side of the ball,” Babers said. “And because he knows the system, and he’s a fierce competitor with a lot of God-given ability, I think that’s why he’s done some of the things he’s been doing and why there is so much interest in him from the National Football League.”

NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter recently called Etta-Tawo a “likely mid-round selection,” who is trending upwards.

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