Syracuse football: Mr. Babers, I Don’t Feel So Good

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

To be honest, I’d fooled myself into thinking the Syracuse Orange football team could make something interesting happen early on vs. the NC State Wolfpack. Not because they looked good, because they most certainly did not. But because stupid things seemed to be happening and that felt like a recipe for success.

Of course, the second quarter occurred, all the stupid thing started happening to us, and that was that. 7-0 was 28-7 in a matter of six minutes of game time, and as usual under Dino Babers, Syracuse just sort of packed it in from there aside from a second half field goal and a garbage time TD run from Garrett Shrader.

Another big opportunity for a bowl trip. Another big ‘L’ for the Orange.

So now ‘Cuse is at 5-6 on the year with two straight blowout losses and one of the top scoring offenses in the country heading to the Dome next week. We want to have faith and belief that this team can gut something out here. But there’s compelling evidence that they won’t:

The cracks were obvious against Virginia Tech, but you’ll take a comeback win and try not to rain on the parade. And the following week, a win over BC really started showcasing what was wrong on both sides. But with BC down two QBs and Sean Tucker running roughshod over the Eagles’ defense, you take the win and potentially ignore the fact that the only good things were limited to three plays (hell, I even implored us to do so).

In hindsight, though, the last two or three games have really exposed some problems.

Shrader’s just 23-of-52 for 174 yards passing dating back to the start of the Boston College game. We’ve lost Chris Elmore seeming for the season, and same goes for Carlos Vettorello. Shrader’s not running as effectively, and you can blame some of that on the injuries above. But some of the issues are just a talent level thing. This team simply can’t pass the football.

Despite that, they spent most of the first quarter throwing the ball vs. NC State. Tucker got just 13 carries on the entire game, yet still topped 100 yards just the same. What these most recent games have proven were entirely predictable. While Sterlin Gilbert was at one point commended for building a gameplan around Shrader’s strengths, that honeymoon is over. With Shrader struggling, he has no answers and actively avoids giving the ball to the best player on the field. That alone is grounds for his ouster. There is no gameplan beyond Shrader’s improvisation, when he can, as was obvious over a month ago but defenses only recently adjusted to.

On defense, injuries have also taken their toll. But this team is prone to giving up big plays and the safeties are getting exploited in one-on-one matchups. Offenses have gotten wise to this too and are willing to take risks against them, since the secondary is atypically not generating turnovers this year. The Orange have just six takeaways all season. The aggressive play by the front six has made up for it for much of the year — just not in recent games.

So now what? Honestly, this looks like a team that’s been cornered at this point. I’d love to be wrong, but barring a miracle, there’s no secret sauce with a week to go that suddenly seals over the cracks we’ve been seeing grow. And with unforced errors like under-utilizing Tucker and forcing the offense to depend on Shrader, on top of the unforced injuries, this staff does seem incapable of the turnaround needed to get win No. 6.

There will be plenty of discussion if and when the Orange limp to a 5-7 finish next week. But for now, we’ll try to exhibit some hope, even if we’re pretty sure how this story wraps up. It’s just tough to avoid that sinking feeling that this season ends poorly at this point. We’ve been in this situation before, after all.


To continue the trend of stupid things happening this year…

Let’s beat Pitt next week.

Dino just can't hack it

His teams get actively worse as the season goes. This isn’t the first year we’ve seen this. He’s supposedly an offensive coach, but keeps Shrader out there when he can’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Defense has regressed. Worst part of it….he’s going to be back. Anyone who thinks he can turn it around here is fooling themselves. Its pathetic. And wait till you see the transfers. Anyone with a bit of talent is being recruited by better schools as we speak, and this includes Tucker. Not saying Tucker is out, but for all those that see to think he’s happy here, look around….no one is, except Dino. He gets to give loser cliches to a group of lap dog media members who won’t hold him accountable. Lastly get a GD special teams coach. What a hack of a coach

Little over the top.

There's a lot of nice guys, Dino is a nice guy but stop this embarrassment and get a not so nice guy

He doesn’t have to cheat, he doesn’t have to have throw away the ethics but he needs to a Ben Schwartzwalder.

Well, he’s doing a pretty decent job of being, say, 1968-73 Schwartzy (except Ben never had a one-win season).


Agree 100% nice guy but not a good Head Coach

Pitt has clinched the Coastal

So they might rest their starters for the ACC title game.
The way this coaching staff is mucking up stuff, I don’t like our chances against Pitt’s 2nd string!

This isn’t the NFL.

Pitt still has plenty to play for and losing a game won’t help their bowl destination if they then lose the ACC title game too. They won’t rest their starters on Saturday unless the game is in hand.

And even then they might not

Pickett is dark horse Heisman pick. Its his senior year. I’m not saying Pitt will run the score, but I’d want to pad his stats if I were their staff. Its not like Syracuse is going to be able to do anything about it.

Yeah, Pitt is going to want to win this game big time

That doesn’t mean that the Orange might not catch them sleeping looking ahead to the ACC championship game.

Everyone needs to go.

5-7 would obviously be an improvement over last year and maybe that would be enough to justify bringing Babers back, but the way that 5-7 happened just leads me to believe that it’s time to go.

The fact that he has never been able to develop a quarterback (aside from the one he inherited) is just crazy. SIX YEARS and no QB that can throw the football is just ridiculous. Maybe he did make the wrong call when he went with Shrader over Devito? How much better would Tucker be if we had a QB that could throw the ball somewhat effectively? How Shrader got recruited to play quarterback at an SEC school is beyond me. Thanks for a few good games, but he is clearly not the answer.

At least we have basketball to look forward to… oh wait.

What I don't understand

Is why you wouldn’t just play two QBs all year long? Playing against a poor run D? Shrader. Playing against a poor passing D? TDV. Goal line or backed way up on your own end? Shrader. TDV ineffective? Put Shrader in. Shrader ineffective? TDV gets a series or two. And even after TDV left, why not see what some of the other kids can do? From a passing perspective, how much worse can it get than Shrader?

I love Dino, and still think he has done a decent job with the (lack of) talent he has at his fingertips. But at the end of the day, he is at fault for the lack of talent at his fingertips.

I do think it is time to move on, but still have PTSD from GERG. I am concerned that we will take five steps back and three steps forward, and be right back where we are now, or worse. Who can we bring in here who can do anything different? It has been 10+ years of much of the same. Flashes of competence, mostly blah, and sometimes embarrassing. I’d be fine with bringing back HCDM but don’t think he’d be interested – not for the long haul, anyway.

But you can't just say let's stay with what we have. That' so complacent.

John W. and the chancellor have to be doing something even compiling a list of what SU can do short of firing Dino.

Agreed, Martin

I didn’t say that we should stay with what we have. Just saying I still have PTSD from GERG.


I remember Frank Mahoney, everybody said he was a nice guy. Coached 7 seasons, one bowl game and replaced by Dick MacPherson.

They won't fire him

They simply can’t with his albatross of a contract. Unless some deep pocked donors and sponsors say enough is enough. he’s back. Oh, I’m sure Wildhack will talk about about how 3 games could have gone either way and talk about Tucker as a reason to come back in 2022, and maybe they will fire Gilbert, since someone has to take the fall, but that will be it.

As others have said, players will run for the transfer portal, and recruits? Forget it. What talented kid will want to come here fully knowing that the staff that recruited him 1) won’t actually give them a chance to play and 2) likely won’t be here?

Keeping Dino

isn’t going to keep players from coming- he’s done better recruiting than the 3 guys who preceded him in the job.You fire Gilbert because the offense is going backwards and he doesn’t adjust. You keep Schmidt and White who have shown progress and you get a ST coach.

We’re a college football team who doesn’t seem to have a gimmick/trick play in their offensive arsenal. If you have injuries and can’t line up and move people then you’d better devise something to get players in space.

Again, why would you want to come here?

Sure, he can get players. But what kind of players? 2 star? 3 star? The type of players that are only being looked at by low-mids and the Ivies? Let’s be honest, his classes are bottom of the ACC now. After one winning season in 6 years, what kind of quality players are going to want to come here? Hell, our best recruit got flipped to Rutgers.

We've gotten same general level of 3-star recruits for like a decade now, no matter how good or bad we are, except for a brief dip under HCSS

Players will want to come here because they’ll be able to play. Transfers will look at Amba, Bleich, Cooper, Shrader, Simmons, Koda Martin, Trishton, and Roscoe. There is numerous examples of true freshman coming and participating. I guarantee you the quality of player we can attract isn’t going to change one way or the the other if Babers isn’t fired.


When people continue to ignore the facts on recruiting rankings and numbers it’s annoying. You aren’t saying you’re concerned about the current commits (which you should be) but instead want to play some boogey-man shit about all these players leaving and no one coming.

Syracuse Football gets 3 star recruits every single year. Steve’s shown you the total 4-stars since the online recruiting services started. It isn’t changing with anyone Syracuse chooses to hire in the next decade. Coaches who want to win need to develop those players, run a successful scheme and make good in-game choices.

We are currently ranked 74th and 14th in the ACC

This isn’t exactly a class I’m worried about players defecting from. Oh no!

Lets see Donovan Brown had offers from us, and Vandy
Dom Foster – us, BC, Akron, Buffalo, Eastern Kentucky
Chad Shuster – us and a bunch of MAC schools
Quan Peterson – us, App State, Akron, Charlotte
Cornell Perry – all MAC
Joe Cruz – We are the only d1 school

yeah, really worried about keeping this class together. No offense, but its not like this class is going to move the needle

This class is legitimate to complain about

but you were speaking in general about Dino’s recruiting and no one is saying keep him to save this class. We’re all saying that thinking another coach (getting hired in December) is going to suddenly get 4 stars or 3 stars with all P5 offers is naive.

Oh, I totally agree

Sure, if we bring in a new head coach next Monday, we aren’t all of a sudden going to get 5 star kids knocking on the door. But I was addressing this point that you made:

"you aren’t saying you’re concerned about the current commits (which you should be)"

I mean, let’s be honest, who cares if we lose this class in the big picture. Somehow I don’t think Joe Cruz is going to be the difference between 5-7 and 7-5.

But my larger point is, the longer we keep Dino, the more likely we are going to get classes like this and the further behind the next coach will be. This class proves my point, the good players just aren’t going to come here because they know Dino is a lame duck coach. The same with the portal. If I’m a good player, I’m going to want to play for a coach with a future, not one who is on the way out. Which then of course becomes a self-fulfilling prophecey because Dino can’t get the players that could actually contribute.

I don't know if we will ever compete

We just do not have, and will never have, the resources that the big State schools have.

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