The Syracuse Orange are 4-0 with a very strong possibility to get a 5th straight win against the winless Wagner Seahawks. Before that, Head Coach Dino Babers addressed the press on where SU stands 1⁄3 of the way through the season:
To take one out of Dino’s book, it feels like I’m playing a broken record at this point. Yet another Orange player was announced out for the remainder of the 2022 season: DT Terry Lockett. The second-most experienced member of the D-Line came out against Virginia and did not return. He was one of five SU defenders that left the game at some point.
Lockett joins Chris Elmore, Stefon Thompson, and Isaiah Jones on the sidelines for the remainder of the year. Dino said that Alijah Clark and Ja’had Carter will continue to be evaluated this week. The same goes for Derek McDonald, who wasn’t available to begin with on Friday, and Justin Barron, one of Friday’s early departures.
Even with the defensive depth already being stretched thin, Babers said the group is still something that can “carry us in the back part of the season.”
Addressing the Offensive Woes
The biggest issue these last two games has been the Orange offense. It’s been... erratic at best lately. Their only TD last week was set up by Trebor Pena’s fantastic kick-return to the UVA side of the field; after that, it was all stalled drives and Field Goals.
After pulling off a second-straight ugly win, Babers said his group should keep their heads held high:
“I really think that they should feel good about themselves, to go 2-0 in close games.” Babers said.
The Sean Tucker Pleased Performance Tracker™ picked up its second “Not Pleased” of the season. #34 again had a very quiet game, averaging less than three yards per carry and being kept out of the end zone.
Friday we won Syracuse 22 Virginia 20. I'm pleased with the outcome of the game. We made mistakes but we are 4-0. I'm not pleased with my performance but I'm doing my part to help the team win. The grind never stops nor will #34! I rushed for 60yds and 5rec for 45yds. #PL34SED pic.twitter.com/qCe3WjYVC3— Sean Tucker (@seantucker2020) September 25, 2022
The area of concern here should be the offensive line, which has struggled to open up any running lanes this season. Babers said that they are working hard to address the issue and believe that this group can still improve.
“Everybody can do something,” Babers said. “We need to focus on the areas that they’re really good at and make that happen.”
As for if the starting 5 will remain the same lineup moving forward: “Everything’s being evaluated.”
One thing that might fly over the casual fan’s head is the amount of international talent on this year’s Orange roster. TE Max Mang is from Germany, starting Punter Max Von Marburg is Australian, and guys from north of the border like Damien Alford and Matthew Bergeron have occasionally brought the moniker of “Canada’s College Team.”
As far as Dino is concerned, this is where the academic side of things play a huge advantage.
“I’ve always thought that a Syracuse degree is an international degree,” Babers said. “That degree and that name travels.... We can go almost anywhere (to recruit).”
Others from outside the U.S. are LB Yosuke Sugano (who grew up in Japan before moving to Pennsylvania) and OL Mark Petry (Germany).
Staying Locked In
Wagner is bad, even by FCS standards. They haven’t won a game since (checks notes) 2019!!! But that doesn’t mean that Babers is already looking ahead to the bye week - or considering this as one.
“This is a tricky game for us,” Babers said. “We need to stay locked in and understand that (a very large upset) has already happened a bunch of times around the country, and we really don’t want it to happen here is Syracuse, NY”
“You’re talking about a really good football team not being in the right frame of mind. I’m going to do everything in my power not to let that happen.”
The Orange host the Seahawks Saturday at 5 for Homecoming. We’ll keep an eye on what prominent alums turn up.