While Syracuse Orange head coach Dino Babers was holding court at ACC Football Kickoff, he was also joined by linebacker Zaire Franklin and center Jason Emerich. Two of the Orange squad's leaders had plenty to say about the new regime, this coming season and more:
Emerich, on playing for his third head coach in five years:
"It's been a great time at Syracuse. Thankful for Coach Babers. We're ready to go out there and win. As a football player and competitor, being successful and having a great last year was going out there and win. Starts September 2nd."
And the offensive line, and adjustments:
"The coaches have high expectations of us. We have high expectations of ourselves. We want to go out there, have a great year. We want to be the best offensive line that we can be.
We're working hard towards that. We had great growth through the spring. We're going to try to keep working out through the summer, hit the ground running in fall camp."
"Just having faith in the coaches, having faith in our strength staff, they're getting us in shape the way we need to be. Pushing on and doing everything they're asking us to do."
Obviously the center and quarterback need to be on the same page, so folks wanted to know more about Eric Dungey too:
"Eric is a great play-maker. He's done some fantastic things. I have full faith in him to run this offense the way Coach Babers and we all want it to be run.
Personally, me and him have had a great connection going on starting last year when he came in. It's just grown significantly as time's went on."
Coach Babers's nutritional changes seemed to generate similar reactions from both Emerich and Franklin:
"Well, I've never been a huge soda guy. I know it's nice to have it not around the building at all so there's no temptations. Coach has done a great job, Coach Babers, Coach E, they've done a great job at building our plan nutrition-wise to focus for the offense and for the whole team."
While Franklin was also fine with removing soda, he was much more enthusiastic about another change:
Zaire Franklin shouted and celebrated when team cafeteria switched from skim milk to 2% #ACCKickoff— Ted Goldberg (@TedTWCNews) July 22, 2016
(He's also not going to gain Sean's support for the following sentiment)
Cuse's Zaire Franklin, clearly super human "we're 19,20 years old. I could go to chipotle and then go to practice and it wouldn't affect me"— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 22, 2016
Franklin, on the team's new defensive scheme, the Tampa-2:
"I think as a competitor and also someone who really loves the game, when you get an opportunity to learn not only like a new playbook, but a new philosophy, it helps broaden your understanding of the game, your appreciation for all the little nuances that makes the game great.
As far as learning a new defense, it's been fun and exciting for all of us to go out and learn new coverages, different type of schemes, different type of little things that will help make us great this fall."
While Franklin is honored to be defensive captain, he's quick to call attention to his teammates:
"(Being named captain) meant the world to me, to be honest with you, to be selected by my coaches and my teammates to be given that type of honor and to be put in the forefront and be considered one of the leaders of the team. It meant a lot to me.
I think I care a great deal about the program, a great deal about where we are and about my teammates as well. Just to know that they look at me in that type of sense meant a lot to me."
"Honestly, I feel like just because you get a C on your chest doesn't necessarily change who you're supposed to be. I feel like if you were a leader already, you were already doing certain type of things to try to bring other people along, lead by example.
Personally, once I was officially named as captain, I stepped up my role a lot. The things I were doing, whether it's meetings, talking a little bit more to certain type of players.
But at the same time I feel as though, you know, the fact they already look at you as a leader means you were doing the things you were supposed to do. You just keep doing that and do it to the best of your ability."
"I would say (the anchor of the defense is) not just myself, but it's a lot of us. Myself, Antwan Cordy, Rodney Williams, Chris Slayton, guys who have been in the fire, played a lot of snaps, can help bring along a lot of the young guys that may not have as much experience."
Given all the strength & conditioning changes, Franklin also discusses those a bit:
"It's been intense. Coach E, our strength coach, he's definitely had his foot on the gas all summer. Definitely pushing us to be the greatest we could be. I think as far as players, whether it's team workouts, any type of extra work, we make sure that we keep that intensity up at all times. Even when it's going on week seven and it's kind of getting old, just another day out there, we make sure we do different things to keep it fun, keep the intensity up, that way you keep it up, come to camp in the best possible shape we can be in."
Franklin also takes a pretty realistic view of the coaching change, and talks about how the team responded when Babers was hired:
"I think going through what we went through last year specifically with our coaches getting let go, I think you really realize, like, who really has your back. You really realize what family really means. You really realize what it means to actually come together as brothers, really have each other's back. You realize when you're at the bottom of the bottom who is really there for you.
When we got to that point, when Coach Dino came in, there was no other place to go but up. The only person that could help us get there was Coach Babers. We had no choice but to follow behind him and give him every opportunity to lead us to victory."
All-in-all, he's excited to be up against some of the ACC's top competition once again this year:
"It's fun. I enjoy it. I love playing against top competition. One of the reasons I chose to come to Syracuse was to play in the ACC. The teams in our specific division are very, very talented. It's fun every week to go out and play against, as you say, guys that are Heisman contenders, on these different types of watch lists. It makes the game that much more fun."
Great stuff from both Emerich and Franklin. Certainly more ACC Football Kickoff feedback coming later on today too.