The 3-0 Syracuse Orange have returned home after a thrilling victory in front of a national TV audience. With their out-of-conference finale against Army looming, Dino Babers addressed the media on Monday:
Offensive linemen Kalan Ellis and Joe More did not travel with the team to Purdue; neither did wideout & return specialist Trebor Pena. When asked about updates timetables for the trio, Babers replied: “Nothing that I can talk about.”
During a later question, Dino said “if Trebor Pena ever comes back” he’d be a possibility to line up at tight end - although the phrasing of that combined with his continued absence from the depth chart makes it seem like he’s still not close to a return.
He also said that WR Isaiah Jones’s limited snap count (only 19) in the previous game was “not at all” injury related. It seems a bit strange that he was barely utilized when the passing game as a whole struggled, but we’ll gladly take some positive injury news.
Sizing up the Black Knights
The most surprising thing Babers said during his conference was how well he expects the Army crowd to travel for Military Appreciation Day at the Dome:
“They may have more fans than us. So, we may be in our own place and our offense can’t hear what’s going on third down.”
Regardless of West Point’s proximity, there is a serious problem if that comes anywhere close to being true. Sure, the two sides have a storied history... in lacrosse. But the football programs haven’t faced one another since 1996. I’m sure there will be a nice contingent of cadet supporters in the crowd, but let’s not go overboard here.
He did also say one thing that I’m sure SU fans will wholeheartedly agree with:
“(Army) played an entire game where they didn’t have a single penalty. You’re playing someone that’s absolutely locked in and focused. They will not give up on a single play.”
That’s something we’ve been hoping to see from the Orange for quite some time now. SU had seven total penalties against Purdue, but they were admittedly better at limiting the simple ones. There was only one false start, and several of the others were “roughing the passer” calls, which in my eyes are still hard to enforce consistently.
How New Starters are Adapting
With the less-than-concrete info regarding the injured SU players, we can expect at least some backups to continue in their elevated roles for now.
Mark Petry slid into the right tackle spot after David Wohlabaugh’s injury, and Dino said that after an ‘ok’ performance, it’s too early to judge him. Babers spoke of how Matt Bergeron started out as just ‘ok’ but gradually grew into the fantastic athlete that earned him a 2nd round pick by the Atlanta Falcons and a starting NFL job as a rookie.
As for the receivers... well, Babers was less kind. On how others could help replace the production of Oronde Gadsden:
“Catching the ball would be great.”
There were a lot of drops against the Boilermakers - definitely more than just the one listed in the box score - and he’s clearly running out of patience on that front.
Babers is also clearly not a fan of Allen Iverson and his “we’re talking about practice” comments from years ago. He described how CB2 Jeremiah Wilson and RB1 LeQuint Allen are always the most engaged players in team practices and urges the rest of his players to follow suit, throwing in a jab at the old NBA icon.
“If everyone practiced the way Jeremiah does on defense and LeQuint does on offense, we could be really, really good... It’s not practice for them. They don’t play basketball for the 76ers.”
(As a suffering Sixers fan... he’s not wrong.)