Everything about Syracuse’s season-opening 33-7 victory over Colgate comes caked in caveats. Syracuse is supposed to beat Colgate easily. Syracuse is supposed to put up big stats on an FCS program. Syracuse is supposed to win home games against lesser opponents.
That said, if you can set that aside for a moment, the first game of the Dino Babers Era was about as strong of a statement as you can possibly make in a blowout win over an FCS program that hasn’t beaten you since the 50s.
The statement? We’re just getting started.
#OrangeIsTheNewFast? Truth in advertising.
Eric Dungey, the sophomore who cemented his spot as the No. 1 quarterback in the offseason, puts up gaudy career-best numbers on the day, throwing for 355 yards and two touchdowns. He did so with great accuracy, going 34-for-40 on the night before getting pulled in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Amba Etta-Tawo, the grad transfer WR who never quite found his role at Maryland, had a career-best day with 12 catches for 210 yards and a score. It was his best day since the time he played against Syracuse and put up 109 yards.
Syracuse actually had two wide receivers with double-digit catches on the day for the first time ever as Erv Phillips hauled in 14 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
In total, Syracuse receivers hauled in 40 catches for 437 yards.
The running game wasn’t a traditional Syracuse ground attack but freshman Moe Neal made his presence known on his very first run, a 49-yard scamper for a touchdown. He finished with 68 yards to lead SU.
Sure, things weren’t perfect. The red zone continued to be a dead zone for the Orange offense for much of the day, though Cole Murphy was always there to clean up the mess. The defense was spotty and if they struggled at times with Colgate what will they look like when Louisville and Pitt come to town, let alone FSU and Clemson?
But there were positives to be found in-between the stats as well. Remember how Syracuse was good for at least four or five really dumb penalties every game under Scott Shafer? There was only really one tonight. We actually made bubble screens look good. And the sped-up offense we’d been promised for years from George McDonald and Tim Lester finally came to fruition. We finally have a coach and a gameplan that makes total sense for a domed stadium with a turf field full of speedy athletes.
The point being that Dino Babers has made it clear he sees big things coming for Syracuse and that if we just have a little faith in the short-term, it will pay off down the road. Tonight was all about giving us reasons to have faith and I saw plenty of them.
We’re one game in and we’re already seeing decade-old records fall by the wayside. Just imagine what Babers will be able to accomplish with a more-seasoned team and more recruits that fit his system. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but the potential we’ve been hoping for is there. We saw some of it against Colgate.
That said, long way to go. Next week we’ll have a much better idea of where this team stands in the ACC pecking order when Louisville comes calling with a big boy offense of their own. Still, even if we falter and even if the season plays out like most expect, now we know what’s possible. We know what’s possible.
If you weren’t already excited, it’s time.