Saturday’s win against the Pittsburgh Panthers puts the Syracuse Orange at .500 on the season heading into Family Weekend against Clemson.
Dino Babers is confident with SU chasing a bowl game for the first time since 2013.
“At 3-3, we’re not winners or losers. We have six more games to go; if we could win half of them, then we become bowl-eligible. We haven’t been to a bowl game in quite awhile. Plus, we’re 1-1 in the toughest division in college football, the ACC Atlantic.”
Although lots of good came from the win, the offense still started slow. A field goal on the first drive was followed by mostly three and outs in the first half.
“I can’t explain it. We tried to change up practice this week, with hopes that it would get us going offensively. We went with the pass instead of the run to see if we could loosen ourselves up, but once we got going, we were a sight to see.”
Syracuse pulled through in the end, the first time they’ve been victorious in a close game this season.
“It’s good to finally get that monkey off our backs. That’s three straight close games with the outcome in doubt with 5 minutes to go.”
Dontae Strickland had 25 carries for 80 yards after being bottled up in the first half. Baber’s praised his starting running back’s performance.
“The thing about running the football is its not about those 50 or 70 yard runs its the three and four yard runs. When you get a guy that every time he gets the ball he’s going to get you three even though there’s not a hole there you can keep giving the ball to that guy.”
Four Syracuse receivers had 50-plus yard days, with Ravian Pierce and Devin C. Butler getting more involved in the offense. Babers and quarterback Eric Dungey both talked about how important it is to get more guys involved.
“I really don’t know who’s going to have a big day... Paris Bennett had 14 tackles, we don’t know which linebacker is going to make those plays. Ryan Guthrie made a key sack. Cole Murphy did an unbelievable job kicking the ball out of the endzone.”
Babers stressed trying to avoid Quadree Henderson in the kicking game, which was the reason he went for it on fourth down with less than a minute to go.