Welcome to the Dino Babers Era!
Fans can take solace in that Babers is a quick study; he’s already learned to treat Colgate in the same manner that Jim Boeheim’s basketball team does each year. But having a few days to digest Syracuse’s 33-7 win revealed a lot of positives and some not-so-positives.
Quarterback Eric Dungey completed 33 of 40 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. Quite a change from the player whose legs ran him into some brutal hits last season. Although Dungey did manage to use his wheels to keep the play alive before finding Erv Philips for a touchdown near the goal line.
Colgate is an FCS team. So pump the breaks on the margin of victory, yards accumulated by the offense and a dominating performance by the defense. And while Colgate might be one of the better FCS teams, they’re still an FCS team.
Maryland transfer Amba Etta-Tawo was on the receiving end of 12 passes for a whopping 210 yards. The senior averaged 17.5 yards per catch while hauling in a 43-yard touchdown. His performance earned him ACC Wide receiver of the Week honors. Ring up catches and yards like a pinball machine and that won’t be the last time he wins that award.
While SU’s aerial attack was sight to behold, the running game was fairly pedestrian. Dontae Strickland, Jordan Fredericks and true freshman Moe Neal ran the ball 22 times for 98 yards. Exactly half of those yards – Neal’s 49-yard TD scamper on his first carry – came on one play. Credit where credit is due, though, as Babers verbally tipped his headset to Colgate’s defense.
Speaking of hat tips, how about one for the Orange defense? Playing its first game in a new scheme, the D pitched a shutout after allowing a touchdown on Colgate’s first drive of the game. The Raiders managed a mere 143 combined yards the entire game.
For all the positives, Syracuse managed to lose the turnover battle thanks to a fumble by Zack Mahoney. As the competition ramps up, Syracuse has to force some turnovers in order to have a chance against some of the better teams it will encounter.
Raise your hand if last year’s conservative punt-the-ball-away play calling rattled your cage. *Nods in agreement* Well, Babers promised to go for it on fourth down when he got here. So far so good as the Orange cashed in all three chances.
Colgate scored its only touchdown thanks in part to a Syracuse roughing the kicker penalty. That’s the type of penalty that will be a killer in league play. Can’t give your opponent extra downs.
The competition level is about to pick up as the Orange welcomes the Louisville Cardinals to the Dome on Friday evening. Louisville, 1-0, hung 70 points on Charlotte in its season opener last week. Quarterback Lamar Jackson led the onslaught that resulted in eight first-half touchdowns and a 56-0 halftime lead. Jackson threw for six scores and used his legs for another two. Syracuse will need to avoid settling for field goals if it intends to keep up with Jackson and the Cardinals.