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Syracuse football: Dino Babers’s Purdue Week updates

A lot is still up in the air entering the first challenge of the season.

Western Michigan v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The 2-0 Syracuse Orange make their first trek out of CNY this weekend for a rematch with Purdue. Before heading to Indiana, catch up with the latest from Coach Babers:

Injury Report

“No news is good news” ... right? Hopefully that’s true because there was not much said about the status of several injured Orange players. Oronde Gadsden left the game against Western Michigan with an ankle injury, and after the game, Babers confirmed that his other ankle had been bothering him already. There was no update on his status, other than that he would be examined by a doctor Monday evening. He’s listed with an “OR” designation on the depth chart.

David Wohlabaugh Jr. is also listed as an “OR” at the right tackle spot. It’s worth noting that he was seen entering the football complex on crutches and with a boot on his left foot - though not a true walking boot. Hopefully that indicates it’s not a fracture, but we won't know more until Saturday at the earliest.

Fellow linemen Kalan Ellis and Joe More have a shot to return this week. Garrett Shrader previously said he expects them to be back, while Babers is hopeful, but not certain, that they’ll dress in West Lafayette.

Finally, nothing was said about specialist Trebor Pena.

Rock Solid Defense

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There have been plenty of faces rotating in and out of Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 so far, especially on the defensive line. The group of Terry Lockett, Kevon Darton, Caleb Okechukwu, Elijah Fuentes-Cundiff, Chase Simmons, and Braylen Ingraham were all within the 20-30 snap range against WMU. Babers said that building up that versatility across the board is a focus.

“I really think that’s one of our strongest groups,” Babers said. “We have a lot of guys that try extremely hard... as you get up into some of those higher ranked teams, you’ll see that one of the biggest differences in their teams is how many defensive linemen they play and how many good defensive linemen they have.”

Linebacker Stefon Thompson is still being eased back from last season’s injury. He did not play in the second half after stepping in for 17 snaps in the first 30 minutes. It was enough time for three tackles, including the sack pictured above.

The defense is also off to a good start in the turnover department, as both of the two Dome games featured a pick-six from a member of the Orange secondary. Not only that, but it was the first career pick-sixes for both Jeremiah Wilson and Jason Simmons Jr.

“Anytime you’re getting turnovers, it’s going to help you win games,” Babers said. “Turnovers, special teams, few penalties, playing a clean game, those are all the things that’s gonna win the games that we’ve got coming up right now.”

Tipping their Card

This is a vastly different Boilermakers squad than the one SU came back to beat in the closing seconds of Week 3 last year. The two biggest differences now are 1.) it’ll be a primetime game in enemy territory instead of at home and 2.) the style of QB the Orange are facing is very different.

Whereas Aidan O’Connell was your traditional “pro-style”, “stand-in-the-pocket” quarterback, transfer Hudson Card has the ability to scramble much like Shrader can. Shutting him down will ideally be the number one priority.

Babers wouldn’t comment on the differences between O’Connell and Card, but he did have this to say about playing at Purdue:

“We’re gonna have a whole bunch of those coming up later on. It’ll be a good experience... Ross-Ade Stadium is no joke. I’ve worked there; it’s a big venue.”