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Dino Babers talks height, Jamal Custis and Andre Cisco

Is Dino going to say something simple and make it seem really complex? You bet!

Wagner v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange (2-0) enter this week’s matchup with the Florida State Seminoles sporting some optimism. Syracuse is undefeated after toppling Western Michigan in one of the weirder games of the season, and then an expected blowout victory against Wagner.

A few days before the Seminoles come to Central New York, head coach Dino Babers spoke to the media. Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s ACC Coaches Teleconference...

Breaking news: it helps to be tall, but you can also be good and small

The difference in leading receivers in game two was (being... or not being) big. Jamal Custis, SU’s 6-foot-5 senior wide receiver, had six receptions for 168 yards and two scores against WMU while Nykeim Johnson (5-foot-8) had three receptions for 65 yards and a TD against Wagner. In response, Dino Babers said that in football, you can be large or undersized and still find success. Once again, Babers returns with the “hot” take.

“You know, sometimes it’s an advantage to be big,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. But when you’re playing a big person’s game, sometimes there’s an advantage to be small. Joe Morris is the leading rusher in the history of Syracuse football, and we’ve had fantastic tailbacks in our tradition here, and yet he’s one of the smaller ones, and he’s the leading rusher. Sometimes when you’re in a big man’s game, to be the small guy can be an advantage.”

Wide receiver especially is the position where you can be 5-foot-8 or 6-foot-5 and be successful. Taller receivers thrive on the outside by using physicality and size to outmuscle corners. Smaller guys usually play inside in the slot, so they can match up better against bigger safeties and linebackers. Babers is right, but it’s just a complex way of saying you can be tall or small and still be good at football.

NCAA Football: Wagner at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Custis put in the work this summer

This probably could have been inferred if you had watched the first game of the season. Last year, Custis looked like he could barely run a route properly. But in that first game, he was almost impossible to defend. When he caught the ball, he ran over, past and through defenders en route to over 150 yards.

“He was on a program to catch, I want to say, 10,000 balls over the summer,” Babers said. “I mean, he was in the weight room, catching balls off the JUGS machine and having coaches push balls at him. He’s really, really worked hard to try to have the best senior year that he could possibly have. I think in his career he’s been close to being a starter on a couple occasions, and he’s had some bad luck on those occasions. I just feel like this is his last opportunity, and he’s trying to make the best of it.”

This is encouraging to hear. Syracuse needed someone to step up. If it was going to be Custis, then so be it. It’s nice to hear that he saw the opportunity to thrive and capitalized. Hopefully, someone else will do the same this next off-season.

Andre Cisco is a freshman but he doesn’t seem like one

Perhaps the breakout defensive player of the first two games, freshman safety Andre Cisco looks like he is destined to be a cornerstone of this defense for the next few years. He has (an FBS-leading) three interceptions in his first two collegiate games as a true freshman. The kid turned 18 in March. It makes sense that Babers had nothing but applause for Cisco.

“I think he does laugh and he does crack a smile every blue moon, but I haven’t seen it very much,” he said. “He’s very stoic. He’s very focused, and he knows what he wants to do, and by going about his work like that, I think it’s helped him to play beyond his years.”

Who knows if he can keep up this performance into conference play when the quarterback’s arms are stronger, receivers are quicker, and tight ends more physical. If he can, boy does Syracuse have a player on its hands for the next few years.