Syracuse Orange football lost their first game this past weekend and now begin a long stretch without a game in the Dome. First up on the October calendar is a trip to North Carolina to face the #14 Tar Heels. As always, we checked in with Coach Babers to start off the week:
- Receiving options Isaiah Jones, Trebor Pena, and Dan Villari are all week-to-week. Neither Jones nor Pena suited up for the game against Clemson, with the later re-aggravating the undisclosed injury that caused him to miss the first three weeks of the season. Villari had a strong start against the Tigers, with two big catches and a touchdown, but he was very limited in the second half - Dino confirmed postgame that he was banged up by that point.
- Justin Barron has “a thing” (yes, that is the exact wording Babers used) and is questionable for this weekend. That “thing” is most likely an issue with his left hand/wrist, as myself and other reporters spotted him exiting the Syracuse practice facility wearing a cast which covered that area. Myles Farmer is listed as an “OR” at rover on the depth chart and could be in line to make his first start since transferring in from Nebraska.
- Kalan Ellis and Joe More are also questionable. Ellis entered during the third series against Clemson but did not look like his usual self. PFF gave Ellis just a 36.9 pass-blocking grade (0-100 scale), and from up in the press box, it looked like Ellis was beat badly on at least two of Garrett Shrader’s sacks. Later, More made his SU debut and played a handful of snaps in garbage time. For now, they’ll stay listed in the twos.
Testing the Depth
Babers doesn’t really have a choice at this point: whatever healthy bodies he can find are going to be sent into action soon.
In the receivers’ room, true freshman Darrel Gill Jr. played 30 snaps last time out and while it’s not ideal to stretch him into a larger role this fast, he’s already exhausted a chance at a redshirt anyway with appearances in all five games so far.
D’Marcus Adams, who has played almost exclusively on special teams this season, should also be increasing his role as a receiver, per Babers. Adams had six catches for 180 yards and two TDs last season, but he notably had a better connection with Carlos Del Rio-Wilson than Shrader.
Jayden Bellamy and Jaeden Gould are both seeing the field more as well as they continue to adjust in Rocky Long’s system. Bellamy subbed in for Jeremiah Wilson in what Babers called a “flow of the game” decision - Wilson had been beat bad for a long TD and taken a pair of pass interference penalties before he was pulled. You can pretty confidently say that the pair will be in a starting role by next season.
The Drake Maye show
Drake Maye is one of the top NFL prospects in the upcoming Draft. Barring a serious injury, he’s likely the No. 2 QB prospect behind USC’s Caleb Williams, and a probable Top-5 pick. There’s no question that he is the toughest quarterback the Orange will face this season - and Babers agrees.
“He’s what makes that team go on offense, and he gets his playmakers the ball in situations where they make plays,” Babers said. “That’s the reason why they’re a very explosive team and score a lot of points.”
Maye already has close to 1,200 passing yards and an incredible 72.7 completion % - one of the best in the Power 5. He’s not immortal though, with four picks through five games.
“They’re going to throw it deep, and we’re going to cover them deep and we’re going to have to find a way to get that done. But that’s part of the game. That’s part of our style. That’s part of their style. I don’t think they are going to deviate, and I know we’re not going to, so tune in.”
Kickoff is 3:30 on Saturday - and for our fútbol crew, ‘Cuse MSOC is also in town Friday night for a 7:30 ranked showdown.