After an embarrassing loss to Wake Forest last weekend, Syracuse Orange coach Dino Babers hopped on the weekly ACC teleconference this morning. With an injured quarterback and a sputtering defense, the pressure is on to win out and make a bowl game. That task starts against the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday.
“Wolford is not Lamar.”
Saturday may have proved that Syracuse’s defense has an issue stopping dual threat quarterbacks. Considering those who have had big games against the Orange (Brent Stockstill at MTSU, Malik Rosier at Miami, and now John Wolford at Wake Forest), all three are quarterbacks who can throw and run the ball. Now, facing perhaps the best dual-threat QB in the nation in Lamar Jackson, the worst is yet to come.
“The biggest thing is is that Wolford is not Lamar. Lamar is the raining Heisman Trophy winner and he does everything better than the quarterback at Wake Forest,” Babers said. “To me he's like Michael Jordan; it's the Jordan rules: Lamar is going to get his. You just have to make sure you don't have two other running backs going for a hundred yards or a wide receiver goes for a hundred yards, because I just think that guy is so dynamic; he's hard to stop by himself.”
While Louisville is only 6-4 on the season, Jackson has been simply outstanding on the year. He has over 3,000 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He has also already run for more than 1,000 yards with 15 more scores on the ground. Expecting to stop Jackson is simply irrational, only elite defenses in Clemson and N.C. state have showed even the slightest bit of capability to stop him. Syracuse needs to focus on limiting yards after the catch, making the initial tackle, and limiting the big plays as much as possible.
Dungey is improving by the day
Missing last weekend’s home 21-point loss to Wake Forest, junior quarterback Eric Dungey has seen his condition improve over the last few days. The clear cut leader and heart of the offense, the Orange will need him to return if they hope to take down former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville.
“Based off of what the trainers are telling me, they say he's getting better and hopefully that it's going to be good enough by the time we get down to Louisville,” Babers said.
This could possibly mean that he will be able to play on Saturday, yet, Babers may also simply be trying to be leery enough with the Cardinal’s defense to not tell them who they should prepare for. Of course, if Dungey is healthy he will be the starter, but that is a major if. While Babers may already know who he wants to start, he certainly is not going to tell the media and the world his decision.
Turnovers will be a major part of the game
After only turning the Demon Deacons over once (punt return fumble), the Orange need to start capitalizing on more opportunities. In a possible high scoring game, turnovers and mistakes will most likely dictate who emerges as victorious. If Syracuse can limit their share, while also taking the ball away a few times, they will have a good chance at moving one win closer to bowl eligibility.
“We need to come out a lot more focused,” Babers said. “We need to make sure we don't make any mistakes, maybe try to win the turnover battle, keep turnovers to a minimum, and if we can do those things, maybe we can keep it close in the fourth quarter and it will go our way.”
After such an embarrassing loss, hopefully the Orange come out motivated and are able to play a full four quarters.