As we countdown to kickoff in September, The Juice Online is going to analyze some of the biggest story lines for the 2016 football team. Today’s question: Can Eric Dungey stay healthy this season?
Eric Dungey arrived at Syracuse football media day looking demonstratively different than he did after his final game as a freshman. SU’s presumptive starting quarterback said he gained about 15 pounds during the offseason.
“I was like, ‘Man, you look like a real good quarterback,'” wide receiver Steve Ishmael said during spring practice. “You look like you can take some hits.”
Syracuse is hoping that the added weight will help him stay healthy this season.
In 2015, Dungey showed flashes of brilliance in the seven games he started, completing 105-of-176 passes for 1,298 yards (a Syracuse record for a true freshman) and 11 touchdowns. Dungey was also no stranger to roaming out of the pocket, rushing for 351 yards and five touchdowns.
While his freelancing ability out of the pocket drew coos from the crowd, it also played a large part in him sustaining two major head injuries. The second of which came against Louisville on Nov. 7, and led to him being helped off the field. That was his final play of his season.
Walk-on Zach Mahoney started the remaining games, as Syracuse limped to a 4-8 finish, which led to the dismissal of Scott Shafer.
The arrival of Dino Babers should improve Dungey’s chances of staying healthy because his system doesn’t ask the quarterback to move out of the pocket as often. Babers’ last quarterback, Matt Johnson, rushed for just 159 yards in 2015.
“I’m not going to be running nearly as much,” Dungey said during spring practice.
If Dungey is able to stay healthy, it should be a prolific season for him if the spring scrimmage was any harbinger. The sophomore threw four touchdowns, displaying a firm grasp of Babers’ up-tempo style.
“It’s going to take a while to learn everything and master everything,” Dungey said during Syracuse media day. “I’m just looking forward to this year and the years to come.”
Jim Stechschulte, Nick Salamone and Kicia Sears contributed to this report.