As has been tradition for Athlon for as long as I personally recall, they’ve solicited feedback from opposing coaches each year as part of its annual preview magazine. Coaches talk about other programs all of the time publicly, but it’s always in the most complimentary terms possible.
Here, feedback is offered anonymously, and that usually leads to more interesting nuggets and less coach speak. For once, allowed to convey some honesty, a lot of these coaches are happy to pay waste to rivals — or at least get in a few jabs.
So was the case once again this year, for the Syracuse Orange and every other college football team. We highlight the quotes below, while also taking some guesses as to which ACC coach may have uttered each one.
“Dino Babers has had a remarkable run with a roster that’s had a lot of experience. He’s done a great job, but he’s had a team full of older kids. He’s had that quarterback (Eric Dungey) ever since he’s been there, and this past season all of that came to fruition. Now because of their talent base and what you can really do in recruiting there, there’s a big question around if he can keep it going, if he can keep winning and keep attention on the program with the less experienced side of that roster. It’s going to be hard.”
We start out with a longer one, so there are a lot of directions this can go in. The phrase “that quarterback” makes me believe it’s a coach not all that familiar with Syracuse — so it could be one of the non-Pitt Coastal teams (Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech). This does seem like a coach that was paying attention a little, however, so you can probably eliminate the schools like Georgia Tech, Miami and UNC that have new coaches.
The talent level comment could expand the group a bit more, and I’d maybe include NC State’s Dave Doeren in there, plus Pitt and BC. Admittedly, this is wide open, but I’ll go with Doeren as the coach in question.
“The interesting thing about an Art Briles offensive system is that it’s built almost exclusively on the talent level and the awareness of your quarterback. The other skill position experience doesn’t dictate anything. What are they going to look like now? Tommy Devito is the guy there; they lost the other kid (Chance Amie) to the transfer portal along with their best receiver. Just based on experience, we think they’re going to fall back and look as young as they are on offense.”
This one’s clearly a regular opponent, name-checking DeVito and also knowing Amie transferred. The analysis is not all that impressive, though. Of course quarterbacks dictate the success of an offense. However, having a talented quarterback surrounded by lesser experience can cause some issues, as we saw in Eric Dungey’s earlier years under Babers. So the coach’s premise isn’t a great one here, as it also ignores how run-focused Babers’s attack has been (and was to great success last year).
My bet’s on either Pat Narduzzi (Pitt) or Steve Addazio (Boston College) — guys that see SU every year and would directly benefit from a perception that the Orange are going to fade back to the pack this year. The quote contradicts itself a bit throughout, and both coaches could easily find themselves tripping into that sort of summary of Syracuse.
“Defensively they’re built to suit their offense, which is sort of saying they’re not really extra talented at any one place and they want to take risks and get the ball back to their QBs. Just like with the offense, they had a lot of veterans last year so they could do more. Let’s see how multiple they can get with new personnel they’ve been recruiting.”
Again, coach we regularly see, and one that could be a bit more defensive-minded. That could be any one of Narduzzi, Doeren or Addazio. Whichever of them it is seems to be leaning heavily on departure of Chris Slayton and the linebackers. Sleeper pick here could be Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, though. The quote is equal parts complimentary and doubtful of SU’s talent. Syracuse’s defense caused a ton of havoc against the Tigers these last two years. That could be the pick.
Who do you think dropped these anonymous quotes? Take your own guesses below.