Putting most of them aside, though, there’s one I still can’t shake: Why did Dino Babers manage the QB rotation the way he did, resting Eric Dungey early and leaving Tommy DeVito in until a 27-point deficit dwindled to just six?
During the post-game press conference, Babers addressed the question by saying, “(he) wanted to see if we could battle out of that deficit without (Dungey).” But then why let it get to single digits before making that move?
There were mutters of a shoulder injury, but an official SU statement in-game said there wasn’t. After the game, both Dungey and Babers also recounted the senior QB pressing to go back in well before he was actually re-inserted into the game.
So what are we buying here? Was Dino really just seeing if they could battle through it? And if so, is that a good enough reason to both pull Dungey in the second quarter, and then watch the team nearly collapse without him — all in the name of “testing” SU and maybe seeing what DeVito could do?
The TNIAAM staff weighs in a bit on the matter...
Obviously, in hindsight, it’s easy to say that Dungey should have been left in the game. But, in reality, it was the right decision. Syracuse was up by four scores at the time and the defense had only allowed seven points in the first half. There was no reason to think that they were going to allow 20+ yard touchdowns on three consecutive drives. Babers also had no reason to think the offense would become so stagnant that they could only move the ball past the first down chain three times, especially considering that Devito is probably the best pure passer on the roster. So, yes, while you can look back now and say Dungey should have been left in the game, but Babers’ decision in the moment was acceptable.
The thing about Babers’s premise in leaving DeVito in the ballgame is that it presumes Syracuse never lost control of that game. From my perspective, letting a game go from a 20+ point lead to a one score game shows the exact opposite. To be fair, many of the things that went wrong while DeVito was in were not his fault, but he still shouldn’t have been out there that long.
I’m fine with the decision to put DeVito into the game in the 2nd quarter and let him start the 3rd. As Babers said it was an opportunity to allow the team to find a way to win without Dungey and I think they do need to avoid the over-reliance on him to make everything happen. Babers also has to try and manage Dungey to last the full year — fluke injuries or not, you don’t want to subject him to more hits than needed in week 1. That being said, I do think he waited too long to go back to him and should have switched when it became a two-score game. I don’t think this is a rotation situation, but with a big lead and a banged up QB it was a good time to try and get DeVito some meaningful snaps.
I like the idea Dino had; Early in the year you don’t get many chances on the road vs a decent team to give your future QB meaningful snaps. As the game started slipping away and the offense faltered, I think Dungey should’ve come in to ice the game, and you can run DiVito back out there. In reality, the most important part is the communication between Dino, his staff, and Dungey. If they all were on the same page about the decision, it’s all fine. However, it sure looked like Dungey wasn’t ready for the decision and they never set clear expectations on when he would come back in. That probably hurt the team more than anything else.
I simply can’t believe that there was no injury concern to leave Dungey out as long as he was — or take him out so early, either. Syracuse was up 27 points when he left the field, but had the coaching staff just forgotten last year’s Wake Forest game? If you’re scoring every time you have the ball, keep doing so for at least a full half. I get the concerns about Dungey’s staying power, but its worth some semblance of risk to make sure you win the game. Keeping him out in the third quarter just to “test” the team also seems ludicrous once the advantage got down to just 13 points. DeVito needs snaps. Just think late versus WMU or the second half against Wagner were the better place for them.
What about you? Agree with Babers’s decision-making? Disagree? Think there’s an injury that went unmentioned? Weigh in below.