Syracuse coach Dino Babers met with the media on Monday to discuss the aftermath of the Syracuse’s 45-20 loss to USF and their upcoming road matchup with UConn on Saturday. Here are some of the important takeaways.
No Updates on Injuries
The Orange have been plagued by the injury bug this season. From Jamal Custis to Wayne Morgan to George Morris III all being forced to miss time, and Antwan Cordy and Juwan Dowels having to miss the rest of the season, the number of Syracuse players missing time to injury is extensive.
Two more starters recently joined that list, after center Jason Emerich and safety Kielan Whitner both missed Saturday’s game against USF due to injury. While both backup center Colin Byrne and backup safety Daivon Ellison played admirable in their absence – Ellison’s play even earned him ACC co-defensive back of the week honors – Syracuse needs all of the healthy bodies they can get.
Unfortunately for the Orange, Babers had no update on either player’s availability for Saturday, saying they will most likely be evaluated by a doctor later today or Tuesday, before a final decision will be made.
“We won’t know until later on in the week,” Babers said.
Transitioning From Z to A
Following Saturday’s loss to USF, Babers said his team was “not there yet” in terms adjusting to the new offensive and defensive systems Babers wants to install. But just how far along is Syracuse?
The train has barely left the station, according to Babers.
“We’re in the beginning. We’re in the beginning stages because of where we started from. I’ve said out of all the places I’ve been, this was going to be the toughest transition I’ve ever had because of what was taught previously before we got here. It does not mean what they were teaching here was wrong. It just means that was the ‘Z’, and we’re operating from the ‘A’ side of the alphabet. It’s a huge transition. As we grow together, we’ll get better and better at it.”
Babers has preached the idea of “faith” since the second he arrived at Syracuse, telling Syracuse fans they needed to have patience. According to Babers’ most recent assessment, it looks like fans will have to continue to be patient with him.
Hopefully by the end of the season, the Orange will at least get to “G”. Or, maybe “P”, but that seems like a stretch.
Brisly Estime’s and Jordan Fredericks’ New Roles
Another transition from the old Scott Shafer era has been the altered roles of wide receiver and Brisly Estime and running back Jordan Fredericks (hey, remember him?). Under Shafer, Estime was Syracuse’s No. 1 kickoff and punt return specialist, and Fredericks led the team in rushing as a true freshman.
Both have seen those roles greatly reduced. Freshman Sean Riley is seeing work in the return game, while Fredericks is working as Syracuse’s third back, behind sophomore Dontae Strickland and freshman Moe Neal.
Babers downplayed the reduction in Estime’s and Fredericks’ roles, saying he made the decision to decrease Estime’s work as a returner due to the increased work the senior is seeing at wide receiver.
“I think the main thing is to look at how many plays Brisly is going to play,” Babers said. “You look at what we do offensively compared to what he used to do in the old offense. He wasn't getting as many opportunities in the old offense, so he could have a lot more energy into those special teams. Based off of what we're doing in our offense, he's getting a lot more work.”
In terms of Fredericks, Babers said the sophomore running back has improved in recent weeks, and fans shouldn’t take too much stuck into the fact he was left off of the two-man depth chart this week.
“Jordan has actually been doing better and better,” Babers said. I thought he did some nice things at the end of the game...I don't look at him at not being in our two-deep. I look at him as somebody we can put into a football game. He has knowledge of the offense, and he the ability to help us win the game.”
Want to find out what else Babers had to say? Watch the full press conference below.