Dino Babers had an unbelievable 2018 season that led to a lot of high expectations for the 2019 season. Those expectations haven’t been met and it’s been really hard to figure out how his offense has fallen so far in one off season. He lost his star quarterback in Eric Dungey but I don’t think anyone expected things to be so rough without him. Babers and his team put together their best performance of the year so I’m sure he’s hoping he has figured some things out that can continue down the stretch.
Babers was able to land Tommy Devito as a recruit three years ago and it seemed like he had the perfect replacement for Dungey. Devito was a four star recruit with a solid offer list and he had enough athleticism that he could likely run the same offense as Dungey. He played well against last year when Dungey was injured so it was fair to expect them to have a smooth transition. That hasn’t really happened. So far this year, he is only completing 59% of his passes against power five teams and he has only thrown 9 touchdowns in those seven games. He also has negative rushing yards against power five teams on the year.
Devito also seems to have a poor relationship with his receivers. In at least two of their games, I’ve watched as receivers have shown open disdain towards him and he’s done the same at times. Devito apparently has a lot of “Jersey Shore” in him so maybe he’s a hard guy to get along with. Either way, it has been weird to see these guys have these issues out in the open.
Syracuse has decided that running the ball is a good idea over the last couple of weeks. Moe Neal had nearly 100 yards at halftime last week after putting up 72 yards against FSU two games earlier. Neal is a quick back with good speed if he gets into space. I’ve been wondering why they don’t utilize him more for a couple of years now but Babers seems to be committed to running the football now. Abdul Adams is also a solid back who gets a handful of carries a game. Adams was expected to make a bigger splash after transferring from Oklahoma but that hasn’t happened so far. I would be surprised if Babers doesn’t look to run the ball a lot this weekend.
The Orange lost a good amount of production at the receiver spot but they got a nice addition in Trishton Jackson. Jackson transferred in from Michigan State and he’s put up numbers that are comparable to Tutu Atwell. Jackson has taken on the role as the deep threat for this team but he can do a bit of everything for them. Sean Riley is back as the slot guy for the Orange. He hasn’t been nearly as productive as he was last year and he definitely isn’t the threat for the big play like he was last year. Riley is only averaging 7 yards per catch and he only has one touchdown on the year. Taj Harris is the other outside receiver for the team and he’s having a solid year. This group as a whole is a bit of a boom or bust group. They have had some big plays but they disappear at times.
Syracuse has the worst offensive line in the country. They’re allowing 4.6 sacks per game which is the most of any team since 2012. They’re starting freshmen at both tackle spots and it’s been quite bad all season for the group. More than half of the tackles for loss they’ve given up have been sacks and the lack of protection makes the entire offense struggle. Cuse has to rely on short passes only and the throws down the field are few and far between. Duke was only able to get on sack on this line last week so the hope has to be that they haven’t figured things out all of a sudden.