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Syracuse football: Orange display a lot of heart and fight in the Bronx

Can they summon this effort again?

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Syracuse Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange season (and Dino Babers) tenure seemed headed to its end in Yankee Stadium. However the players and coaches decided they weren’t ready to close the book in the Bronx.

If you had any doubt about the players not giving up on the season or this coaching staff, they should have been answered this week. We heard Dan Villari and LeQuint Allen call out teammates during practice. Then we watched a one-armed Garrett Shrader not only suit up, but throw his body around the Yankee Stadium outfield. Even Dino Babers brought back some locker room fire in the post-game.

Yesterday’s win showed a desperation we haven’t seen during the Babers tenure. With Shrader unable to throw, the staff figured their best hope was digging out a playbook that would have fit more in 1923 than 2023.

What was most impressive is that the Orange entered the half looking every bit like the team we’ve seen the last five games. They committed unforced errors to stop promising drives. They let Pitt get a huge pass play when they had no offensive momentum going. You could sense that it was going to be another game that slipped away....a common sight the last eight years.

Then the leaders stepped up. Allen, Shrader and Villari ran with purpose. The much-maligned offensive line embraced their role and cleared space for Syracuse to run for 388 yards. The defense created four takeaways and Jayden Bellamy who left the Virginia Tech game for the hospital injected some needed life into the Orange with this play.

To say the Orange needed this game would be the understatement of 2023. Now we see if they can muster up this level of effort next week in Atlanta and back in the Dome for Wake Forest.

No matter what happens in the final two games it’s clear that the Orange have not quit and that the leaders in the locker room not only talked the talk during the walk, they backed up the talk with the effort we saw yesterday afternoon.