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Syracuse football: Dino Babers’s Florida State Week Updates

Previewing a grim outlook against the current kings of the ACC.

Syracuse v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Syracuse Orange football (4-2, 0-2) was handed its second consecutive ACC loss in a 40-7 road defeat this past Saturday against the then-#14 North Carolina Tar Heels. The going only gets tougher from here — Syracuse will head south down to Tallahassee to take on Mike Norvell, Jordan Travis and the #4 Florida State Seminoles.

Before the Orange head down to the Sunshine State, let’s check in with coach Dino Babers to kick off this week:

Keeping it real with NIL

And on boy, did Babers come out on fire with some comments on name, image and likeness as well as the transfer portal.

Babers tackled each topic on two fronts. He addressed the Orange’s concerns with depth by saying how it is “gone” via last off-season's transfer portal — and added that “they’re schools like us, we’re not going to have a lot of depth because it gets bought away.”

The comments drew some attention on Twitter, most notably from former Orange defensive stud Mikel Jones:

Per On3, Syracuse ranked 63rd on its transfer portal index, which tracks if a program improved, declined or remained the same based off the players it lost or gained through the portal. Over the offseason, the Orange lost some notable names through the portal — including starters Jatius Geer, Deuce Chestnut, and Ja’Had Carter.

Babers also addressed using the portal and the impact of NIL through the lens of the upcoming Florida State game.

For context on the quote below: Syracuse lost 38-3 at home to the Seminoles last season, but played a nail-biter in a 33-30 road loss in 2021. The Orange are 2-12 all-time versus Florida State and have never beaten Florida State in Tallahassee.

“Last year’s game showed me exactly what name image and likeness can do. Because the year before that, we went down there. And we were they kicked for a field goal in the very last play to beat us. And then the year, two years before that, we went down. We were kicking a field goal when it got blocked. So it showed me how well when you do it right, how quickly you can change your football team.”

Anyone getting flashbacks to former coach Jim Boeheim’s “Pitt bought a team” comments?

Syracuse Athletics has moved in the right direction when you consider the school’s recent NIL investments, upgrades to football facilities and the Orange’s promising recruitment class for 2024 (currently 51st per 247sports). But obviously, even with the (steady) progress in the past few years, most fans remain on edge over where the program’s future will look like under Babers after 2023.

Babers did not comment when asked on if Syracuse is “making progress in the NIL department.”

Florida State: the Ultimate Juggernaut

Babers spent a lot of his press conference detailing the brutal obstacles the Orange will face when they head down to Florida to take on the Seminoles.

“It’s most likely the best team that we’ve seen so far this year, although the one we just played was extremely good.”

The road test will be real and then some for Syracuse — Babers highlighted Florida State’s rabid fanbase, specifically the capacity of Doak Campbell Stadium (79,560 seats). Babers also noted the Seminoles’ superb, veteran defense which he said will have a hefty number of junior, seniors and graduate seniors.

Although Babers said he liked what’s been going on in the season up to date, he’s been disappointing with the Orange’s winless start to kick off the ACC slate of this year’s schedule.

“I understand the challenge that we’re about to play the best team in the ACC and we’re gonna need to do some things and play our best to have an opportunity to win but you know, you’re playing a team that’s ranked in the top five. I mean, we’ve been a team in the top five before but it’s very, very difficult to do and it’s extremely difficult to do when you’re at their place.”

Shrader's thrown-off groove

Babers addressed Garrett Shrader’s comments post-UNC about the offense needing to improve across the board.

After ending the out-of-conference schedule with one of the best offenses in the NCAA, Syracuse has scored 21 points in its last two games while forking over 71 to its opposition. Specifically, Shrader has not looked the same since taken a massive hit early in the Clemson game — he’s produced just 300 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions combined versus Clemson and UNC.

Babers specifically called on more consistency from receivers Damien Alford and Umari Hatcher, who will need to step up throughout the rest of this season with Oronde Gadsden out and the team’s receiving group also down Isaiah Jones and Trebor Pena.

There likely won't be help coming on the injury front. Babers doesn't know when Pena will be back in action, saying only: "When he's able to play, we'll play him."

Meanwhile, Isaiah Jones and Joe More are "not 100%", and Kalan Ellis is notably absent from the depth chart entirely this week.

Syracuse will take on Florida State this Saturday at noon on ABC. After that, 'Cuse gets their desperately needed bye and a chance to reset.