Mettus: What you can actually take away from Syracuse football’s 1st game under Dino Babers

first_img Related Stories With Dino Babers’ debut, Syracuse gets a new beginningSyracuse football rolls to 33-7 win over Colgate in Dino Babers’ SU debutStock up/stock down: A look back at Syracuse’s season-opening win over Colgate Published on September 6, 2016 at 12:18 am Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Nearly nine months of talk and marketing had built up Syracuse as “Orange is the new fast,” the fastest show on turf and any other slogan as long as you could fit “fast” in there.Tempo. Conditioning. Speed. All talked about ad nauseam. Until Friday, when we finally saw Dino Babers’ team take the field for the first time.Yes, Syracuse won, 33-7, with time to send its backups in at the end. Yes, the Orange had a program record completion percentage, Eric Dungey had a career-high in passing yards and Amba Etta-Tawo and Ervin Philips combined for more catches in a game than any two Syracuse receivers ever.And yes, it was the first game under a new system — and probably the worst SU will ever execute it. But it was also Colgate, an FCS team hell-bent on stopping the run, giving Dungey free reign in the air.Taking all that into consideration, here’s what we can reasonably take away from the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEric Dungey will be accurate on short throwsDon’t expect the sophomore quarterback to go 13-for-13 in the first quarter of every game or finish with an 85-percent completion rate on 40 throws. The Colgate safeties and linebackers were biting on the handoff portion of the run-pass option. Etta-Tawo was able to leap for grabs in one-on-one coverage along the sidelines for plays that will likely result in incompletions or interceptions against a better secondary.What you can expect to transfer over from the season opener is Dungey’s success on the short throws. He was 20-for-23 (86.9 percent) on throws fewer than 10 yards down the field. He was 13-for-17 (76.5 percent) on throws more than 10 yards.“I got to make better reads, better decisions and sharper throws,” Dungey said.The offense thrives on short throws to dink and dunk its way down the field. Receiver screens, 5-yard outs, shallow comebacks and slants will be run plenty. Timing is everything on these and Dungey and his receivers seem to have locked it down pretty well for now.Unlike Colgate, most teams will likely adjust to bring their corners up to the SU receivers to try to take away the quick passes and screens. Then, it’ll be up to Dungey to either hand the ball off or go deeper on something like a double move. No guarantees. But when the short ball is there, he’ll be able to take advantage.Dino Babers won’t be afraid of fourth downDungey got up from where he had been hit at the 50-yard line — 1 yard short on third down — and shook his finger at his coaches at the sideline before getting the quick signal to go for it. He hurried under center and snapped the ball before the defensive line had time to react, leaving space to scurry around the left side of the line for the first.The game was tied, 7-7, with fewer than three and a half minutes left in the first quarter. But Babers wasn’t playing the field position game.Former SU coach Scott Shafer faced criticism when he elected to punt down 10 points to No. 1 Clemson last year with fourth-and-8 and fewer than seven minutes to go. He cited field position as his reasoning.Syracuse was 3-for-3 on fourth down on Friday, converting from the 50, its own 26 and Colgate’s 24-yard line. Babers doesn’t just use it as a way to come from behind, he uses it as a way to get ahead and stay ahead.“Going down the road, on fourth down if we have to go for it, we have to go for it,” he said. “And we have to score touchdowns. We can’t kick field goals all the time. And if we go for it for four times and we don’t make it, then you guys get to be Monday morning quarterbacks and talk about how bad we are.“But I’m already telling you after our first game that we’re going to do those things because we’re not playing to be close. We’re playing to win, and if winning means we can’t kick field goals and we have to go for it every single time, we will, regardless of the score.”Syracuse can go under centerThe bulk of SU’s new offense is run out of shotgun with a running back by the quarterback’s side. But several times, Dungey ran under center for a handoff or quick throw to the sideline — or a QB keeper like the one he converted on fourth down with.SU showed a full house-like formation that Babers referred to as a power-I with freshman defensive end/tight end Kenneth Ruff and redshirt senior offensive tackle Michael Lasker lined up as tight ends/fullbacks in the backfield in front of the running back.“There’s a lot of offense in our offense,” Babers said. “… We always have the flexibility to be able to branch off and do different things. … We’re not afraid to take off the roof.”That being said, you’ll probably never see that formation again this season. Babers was tired of throwing the ball and wanted to force the run anyway he could.Still, Dungey was able to switch back and forth between shotgun and under center fairly well even in the no-huddle setting.Jon Mettus is an Asst. Sports Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at or @jmettus. Commentslast_img

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