You don’t have to follow the Syracuse Orange football team too closely to realize that a 41-3 loss to bottom/middle of the pack ACC Louisville is not great. The Orange need just one win to qualify for a bowl game, and instead of defeating one of their counterparts in the bottom half of the ACC, ‘Cuse will now need to knock off one of the ACC’s top teams (Pitt and NC State) over the final couple games.
What makes this so much worse is that the Orange were coming off a bye week with an injured team that desperately needed a week to regroup and get healthy. Instead, if the coach is to be believed, the team was not mentally or physically prepared to defeat Louisville.
Syracuse HC Dino Babers told @MattPark1 that he thought the bye week factored into his team's poor performance/lack of urgency.— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) November 13, 2021
"When you give them time off to heal, sometimes the mind wanders. And the mind is the thing that you have to beat in situations like this."
Syracuse HC Dino Babers emphasizes the lack of physicality on offense as that unit’s biggest issue at Louisville. There were some mental mistakes in terms of making the right checks, but winning at the point of contact is the more pressing change to make.— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) November 15, 2021
At some point, a coach being consistently unable to prepare teams to play games after bye weeks (SU is 2-6 after byes under Babers, without including the Camping World Bowl) has to be critically evaluated. That said, a team’s inability to stay focused during an off week would logically be tied to the culture around the program, something the coach does control. Turning to in game questions however...
Babers decided that he wouldn’t put Tucker back in without Shrader and the starting OL.— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) November 15, 2021
Babers doesn’t believe Tucker was number-chasing and he emphasized that as a player’s coach, he’ll always hear his guys out.
Unlike the preparation comments, this lines up with Dino’s immediate postgame feedback that Tucker’s action wasn’t stat chasing. As a player who is unquestionably the team MVP due to his on field play, it would make sense for a player’s coach to listen to the on the field leader.
I’m not in the locker room. I’m not around the program. Dino makes sure we don’t actually see a lot of the program except for the actual games. But Dino suddenly positioning himself as a players coach after numerous transfers, and an incredibly messy quarterback situation is a red flag that maps to what I’ve previously said is the biggest issue I have with Dino Babers.
I hate being the guy to say this… it’s time to move on at HC. Not because of any single call… the inconsistency of process in any game with the additional QB yo-yo they played shows no vision for the program beyond “survive.” Cuse can’t live there.— Andy Pregler (@acpregler) October 9, 2021
I understand that sometimes it’s not the best decision to live in a single set of rules and refuse to make exceptions. But what is Syracuse right now? The offensive identity has never been what Dino advertised, first because Eric Dungey wasn’t that type of QB, then because Tommy DeVito wasn’t good enough, and now it’s because Garret Shrader isn’t that type of QB. Two of those three QBs were brought in by Babers’ staff! And with every passing QB that isn’t Jimmy Garoppolo putting years between Syracuse and Eastern Illinois, statements like these sound less like proof of concept and more exception to the rule.
Babers said QB transfer Dillon Markiewicz made his decision “the right way” and wished him the best.— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) November 15, 2021
Dino said his pitch toward pocket passers in the future will be around Jimmy G’s success at Eastern Illinois. Still thinks this offense can work around any talented QB.
I’ve already covered why Babers probably has at least one more year at Syracuse to right the ship, and I’m willing to be proven wrong. I want to be proven wrong! But right now, I can’t look at Syracuse and see anything but another school that (rightfully, at the time) bought a pitch from a talented up-and-coming coach — in the hopes that he’d also make adjustments to succeed long-term at the Power Five level.
The adjustments could still come, potentially. Though at the same time, we’re also six years in at this point. If they haven’t happened yet, it’s tough to bank on them ever occurring. And if we know they won’t, it’s reasonable to ask about the next move for Syracuse.