The Syracuse Orange gave away an orange opportunity yesterday. I know that makes the 27-21 loss hurt more- because the game was there for the taking and Syracuse simply didn’t get it done in the second half.
Let’s be clear, the time management in the final minutes, the continued penalty problem, and the peculiar play-calling are all things that should have been better. We will keep digging into this the next couple of days but it’s fair to say the coaching didn’t match the effort of the players. I’ve got no issues with that criticism.
What I do have issues with is people jumping to this notion that Dino Babers is awful or should be fired. I have an issue with people putting the blame on Elijah Cundiff-Fuentes for a poor decision on a play he’d certainly want to have back. I have an issue with the leap from 6-1 to “oh my god we’re in hell here”.
The reason I had no patience for this is that I knew it was coming. You could sense it all week in the comments about Clemson being overrated or the statistical comparisons trying to show Syracuse was better. Many of the same people had spent the first seven weeks pointing out that Syracuse was lucky they weren’t 4-2. People wanted to ignore the recruiting rankings that those same people point to as reasons to dump Dino.
You can’t have it both ways- not here, not on my time. We can discuss his flaws and faults but you can’t say he can’t recruit and then wonder why those recruits don’t beat top-10 recruiting classes on the road. You can’t say a team got lucky to beat Virginia at home and then scream and yell when they don’t win at Clemson.
We know the Orange weren’t a CFP contender. We knew they would have to be at their best to win. They were pretty damn good for 30 minutes but it wasn’t enough. It’s ok to be disappointed, mad, whatever. Get it out and let it go though.
It’s funny to be painted as a Dino defender when last year after Wake I was fine with his firing. His refusal to get better at these game management decisions is maddening, but to his credit he hired Robert Anae and Jason Beck who have done wonders to make this offense look threatening. We seemed to have lucked out to land them and Tony White but it was still Dino’s final call to hire the all and for that he deserves credit. If the Orange are going to be consistently good, we know that a solid staff and the ability to coach up players is the key. Syracuse is clearly on the right path there.
The 2018 team handed a game to Pitt but when you think about that season I doubt that game sticks out. What we remember of this 2022 season will be determined by the next five games. The next four are going to be challenging but this team has an opportunity to play themselves to a New Year’s Bowl game. They have a chance for 8, 9, or dare we say 10 regular-season wins- a winning percentage that hasn’t happened for 30 years.
When the dust settles after Boston College, then we can pour over these program evaluations but for now I’ll just remind you that not many were picking anything over 7-5 this year, while except some very excellent pets of course.