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Dino Babers discusses Syracuse’s defensive struggles in recent weeks

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The Orange need to improve defensively before their season finale...

Wake Forest v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

With one game remaining, the Syracuse Orange (4-7, 2-5 ACC) have struggled down the stretch of the season, losing their last four since upsetting then No. 2 Clemson. With no chance to make a bowl game, there is no pressure left upon the shoulders of Dino Babers and the Orange. But that doesn’t mean questions are going unaddressed.

Defensive struggles

Since the end of the first half against Wake Forest, the Orange have allowed 96 points in only three halves of football. Obviously unacceptable, the blame has to fall upon something more than injuries.

“I think the biggest thing is the last two opponents have been able to run and throw the football,” Babers said. “When you don't take a dimension away from a football team, it makes them very hard to defend, especially when they've been operating at the level our last two opponents are operating on.”

Of course, with both Louisville and Wake Forest sporting the best and perhaps the second best dual-threat quarterbacks, the Orange have showed a weakness in stopping teams that multiple facets on offense. With such little depth, they get tired out easily and by the second half, they simply have no energy remaining. For the future, with somewhat of a young team, hopefully this can drastically improve.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Focus is on the Boston College Eagles run game

After playing two teams that have decent passing attacks, the Orange have a much different opponent this week in Boston College. The Eagles have already amassed over 2,000 rushing yards and sport a freshman sensation in 1,200-yard rusher AJ Dillon.

“Obviously, our hands are full with Boston College because they want to run the ball no matter what, and they are more than capable of forcing their will on people,” Babers said. “So it's going to be a very, very difficult task to stop them at our place.”

Allowing over 400 yards rushing to Louisville last weekend, SU must be better this weekend if they look to improve upon their record from last season (4-8 in 2016). Still, with injuries piling up, senior day may be spoiled. They need senior linebackers Zaire Franklin and Parris Bennett to return to mid-season form for any possibility at reaching five wins.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Lack of scholarships hurting the Orange depth

This has been long discussed for the Orange; their lack of depth hurts them when the injuries start to amass. Yet, other teams also have injuries so there is no reason to make that excuse. Overall, per Babers, this issue all started with the decrease in scholarships.

“It all started when we started taking away scholarships from the football teams and when we cut back down to 85... and let's say that you're redshirting 15 to 20 of those guys. That means you're operating with 65 to 70 players, and depending on how the injuries fall, it can really affect your football team,” Babers said.

Still, every team goes through this issue. Every team has injuries, every team has scholarship issues, and yet they still have far more depth and success than Syracuse has recently. While Babers is correct that depth has been a problem for the Orange, the focus needs to be on how to effectively utilize the players that are available to get the best results.