Syracuse Orange football will open its season against the Colgate
Toothpaste Raiders Friday night at 7 p.m. ET. The game will mark the first contest for new Syracuse head coach Dino Babers. The 55-year-old head coach went on the ACC coaches teleconference on Wednesday to address his team’s opening opponent and how several of his players are progressing.
Colgate is a “dangerous opponent”...no, really
Syracuse enters Friday night riding a 15-game win streak versus Colgate, with the Orange’s last loss at the hands of the Raiders coming all the way back in 1950. In Syracuse’s most recent matchup against Colgate, the Orange pummeled the Raiders en route to a final score of 42-7.
Despite Syracuse’s track record, and the fact Colgate plays in the FCS, Babers made it a point to hype up the Raiders – even comparing Colgate to the Eastern Illinois team he coached that upset San Diego State in 2013.
“They’re a very experienced football team. They’re physical in the front. And when you get that much experience with a team that went to the quarterfinals in the playoffs last year, you get a very dangerous opening opponent,” Babers said. “So hopefully my football team is listening to this and we’ll be ready to go.”
Despite appearing in only eight games last season due to injury, quarterback Eric Dungey ran the ball 91 times for 351 yards – the second-most rushing yards out of any Syracuse player, behind only running back Jordan Fredericks.
Babers said he and the coaching staff had to work to mold Dungey into becoming more of a pocket passer, rather than the dual-threat quarterback he attempted to embody last season.
“We had to strip him down and start all over again with him,” Babers said. “He has fantastic legs, but in our offense we’re looking for a thrower first. If they can run, that’s great. But we need people who can sit in the pocket and deliver the ball to the people we want.
“And I think he’s done a nice job of trying to curtail his game to exactly what we need. And if he needs to take off, he has that ability. But we’re trying to keep him in the pocket more.”
Keep an eye on Sean Riley
Despite being a true freshman, wide receiver Sean Riley will have to contribute this season and could push for extended playing time, Babers said.
“[He’s] someone that’s extremely talented, has a lot of God-given ability. He will get an opportunity to play this year,” Babers said. “But, he’s young, he makes mistakes. The more he limits his mistakes, the more opportunities he’ll get to play.”
The three-star recruit has plenty of veteran competition at the wide receiver position, with redshirt-seniors Amba Etta-Tawo and Alivn Cornelius, senior Brisly Estime and junior Ervin Phillips all ahead of Riley on the depth chart to start the season.
“Toughest schedule in the country”
Syracuse has an extremely tough schedule this season. How tough? ESPN ranks it as the No. 9 most difficult schedule out of all of college football. Babers, however, said he would even take it a step further, arguing that Syracuse has “the toughest schedule in the country.”
Babers said his claim is not only based on Syracuse’s opponents – which include Clemson, Florida State, Louisville and Pittsburgh – but, also taking into consideration Syracuse’s personnel.
For example, while Alabama may have to face the likes of USC, Ole Miss, LSU and Tennessee, not even the most disillusioned Syracuse fan would argue the Orange of having more talent than the Crimson Tide.
Successful first regular season teleconference, coach. What do you think? Is tempered optimism good, or do #WeWantBama?