The Syracuse Orange still have something to play for. If they defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, they’ll finish 5-7, which means they could sneak into a bowl game if there are available spots and there aren’t too many teams ahead of SU in APR score rank. So by all means, SU needs to go all-out.
If I had to guess, I would assume Eric Dungey isn’t going to play on Saturday. But on the chance that he is cleared by that second opinion that hasn’t happened yet, the star sophomore quarterback should sit out the game anyway.
We don’t know for sure what Dungey’s injury is, though we can make some fairly decent assumptions. And if those assumptions are correct, it seems unconscionable to throw him into a game behind a patchwork offensive line and watch him have to scramble for half the game, risking further injury. SU’s offense is held together with duct tape right now and the results without Dungey have been extremely harrowing. While Eric brings a dimension and talent with him that Zack Mahoney and Austin Wilson just can’t match, it still might not be enough to make up for the myriad injuries this squad is suffering from.
Even if our assumptions about Dungey’s injury are wrong, does it really make a difference? We know he’s The Guy. We also know it’d be great for him to be The Guy next September, and maybe even the September after that. With two known concussions under his belt and a penchant for jumping head-first into 250-pound linebackers, it would be almost unjustifiable to risk his future on a game that may or may not matter.
To be clear, getting to a bowl game is huge. Who cares if we’re 5-7, if whatever the bowls in Detroit or Birmingham are called these days want us, we should go. It’s all about the reps, the practices, and the exposure.
But it’s still not worth risking Dungey’s future for a nice bonus right now.
Dino Babers has always been clear about the long-term prospects for program-building at Syracuse. If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that Eric Dungey represents the team’s best chances for success in 2017. If we do lose him to this injury, it’s going to be a huge setback to the program. But if there’s a chance he can recover and still play while staying healthy, then SU needs to invest in that. We cannot have a season that rests on the shoulders of Mahoney, Wilson, an untested Rex Culpepper, and an untested Tommy DeVito. Not if we want to take that next step.
We need Eric Dungey for the future of this program. That future shouldn’t be risked on Saturday.