Item: As year three of the Dino Babers era transitions from spring practice to summer workouts, and with the roster depth expanding after three recruiting cycles, the goal is a bowl game and it will take six wins to become eligible.
There’s a lot to be excited for heading into the 2018 Syracuse football season kicking off in Kalamazoo, Mich. In 135 days.
For one, even with the road opener against a team with a former member of the Orange program in charge, the September schedule shows three winnable games against the MAC’s Western Michigan, Wagner and Connecticut, leaving three wins needed in eight ACC meetings, plus Notre Dame.
Then there’s the quarterback position, which Babers proclaimed in multiple interviews over the past week to be in the program’s best shape this century, with the duo of Eric Dungey and Tommy DeVito playing behind a veteran offensive line, having a strong running game and tight end play, but some questions as to whom will emerge at wide receiver.
Strong defensive line play was also highlighted by Babers following spring practices, as he has built an eight man rotation of tackles and ends that should be proficient in chasing down quarterbacks and containing an opponent’s ground game That unit will help offset a linebackers group which has almost been completely transformed. The starting four DB’s return and all should be a year better, strengthening a position that struggled at times during Babers early tenure.
For the first time since 2014 the Orange will have a new kicker, but the likely starter is hardly an unfamiliar face. Sterling Hofrichter, who finished ninth in the ACC in punting last season, is in line to replace Cole Murphy as the field goal/extra point kicker.
The five year stretch since the 2013 Texas Bowl comeback win over Minnesota seems like a distant memory, as SU eyes a Babers breakthrough season to end the longest bowl drought since 2005-2009.