After what could be labeled as a positive loss against LSU last weekend, Dino Babers took to the podium to discuss all things Syracuse Orange football.
“It was not an onside kick.”
One of the most surprising from Saturday, was when Syracuse appeared to opt for an onside kick while down two points, instead of kicking it deep. Apparently, it was not meant to be a short kick at all.
“It was not an onside kick,” Babers said. “We were trying to kick the ball deep with a specialty kick and the young man just mishit it. There’s a lot of other mistakes out there on the football field. One thing doesn't dictate a football game.”
While he is not wrong in that this was not the only mistake made by the Orange, this will continue to be highlighted due to the circumstance. If Cole Murphy had “mishit” a kick early in the second quarter, there would be nothing close to this type of attention on it. Yet, since it came with the Orange down two late in the fourth, Babers will receive scrutiny.
Leadership is elevating the team to another level
Record aside, Syracuse looks much better at the moment compared to two weeks ago against Middle Tennessee. While bowl possibilities look slim right now, it is generally encouraging to see this team show a resiliency and a determination to almost complete a three-score comeback on the road against a high level SEC team like LSU.
“Leadership has really taken over,” Babers said. “You can see it in the offense, defense, and kicking game... There was some things that happened on the very last drive obviously when we didn't hold them, but ... we had some young men out there who made some mistakes. That’s just a part of the family.... You talk about the effort of the 70 guys that went down there on the plane; I’m really happy and excited where we’re at.”
While the schedule only gets more difficult from this point forward, the grit and mental fortitude of the entire team last weekend is very encouraging. If they can show that same mentality in the weeks going forward, their record will continue to improve.
Dino has much praise for the front seven
This can not be overstated: the way the defensive line performed on Saturday against an athletic, large, and powerful LSU offense was impressive. After displaying their potential in the first three games, they showed the world what they have to offer.
“It was a fantastic game with our inside players. Our 1 and 3 techniques (defensive lineman) played an excitable game,” Babers said.
“You may not see that in the boxscore, but from a coach’s standpoint, they were punching holes... and because there was separation, there was allies for the linebackers to run through. That safety by Parris [Bennett] was a situation where a guy punched a whole in that thing.... The defensive line, the linebackers played a very aggressive game.”
As Babers mentioned, senior Parris Bennett, not just on the safety play, was absolutely incredible. He plugged running gaps, made tackle after tackle, and played solid pass defense when necessary. With him, Zaire Franklin, and the defensive lineman rotation playing the way they are, the future is exciting for this group.
See what @CoachBabersCuse has to say heading into ACC opener week— Syracuse Athletics (@Cuse) September 25, 2017
NC State’s front seven is “the real deal.”
With Saturday’s ACC opener against NC State impending, Babers had only positive things to say about the Wolfpack’s defensive line and linebackers. After they beat down on Florida State in a 27-21 home win where they sacked Seminole quarterback James Blackman four times, the outlook is not too exciting for the Orange offensive line and quarterback Eric Dungey.
“Their front seven is the real deal,” Babers said. “Their back end is good, but their front seven is exceptional... You better be exactly right, because if you’re not, your success is going to be very limited.”
Still, if Dungey was able to escape and play well against LSU, possibly an even better defense, then perhaps he can do the same this week.