Orange Watch: For Syracuse football, it’s time to turn post season corner

Dino Babers speaks at ACC Media Day. Mandatory Photo Credit: The Juice Online, Brad Bierman.

Item: In a conference filled with national title contenders, an array of multi-dimensional head coaches and annual fierce recruiting battles for Power 5 talent, Syracuse football finds itself in an interesting position entering Dino Babers pivotal third season. SU has its most talented, deep, and experienced roster in Babers tenure, now it’s time to piece together the victories.

Charlotte, N.C. – While the point of emphasis about the goal of winning every football game on the schedule was repeated often by the Syracuse contingent at this past week’s 2018 ACC Football Kickoff event, the fact remains that a minimum of six victories is needed to qualify and have the league office ensure the Orange of a landing spot among the 12 potential bowl bids that are already locked in for this season.

Despite the prescience of Florida State and Clemson in September, and the chance to knock off another one of the ACC big boys from their perch, it’s the three non-conference games against Western Michigan, Wagner, and Connecticut that are the must-wins to get halfway to the bowl minimum.

“We’ve had outstanding Septembers, and we’ve had outstanding Octobers to put ourselves into position to make some noise and have a special story when all is said and done, we just haven’t finished strong,” Babers said in Charlotte. “For us to have the success that we want to have at Syracuse, we have to find a way to finish in November.”

» Related: Moe Neal — Meet the 2018 Syracuse Football team

Certainly never having had senior quarterback Eric Dungey yet to play in the regular season’s final month due to various injuries hasn’t helped the ‘Cuse overcome their Atlantic Division brethren when bowl games have been up for grabs, but there’s a fresh mindset for the Orange’s bigger and stronger dual-threat offensive leader.

“I am really looking forward to going into my senior year.” Dungey told the media surrounding him at the Kickoff event. “We’ve got a lot of experience, we’ve got great coaches and great teammates, a great atmosphere, and I am looking to shock the world.”

As is the Syracuse defense which features loads of talent across the defensive line and in the secondary, but will count on last season’s key reserves to step up to man the in-between coverage among the linebackers.

“We have so much depth on the D-line,” senior Chris Slayton (83 career tackles) said in Charlotte. “It’s as much (depth) for as long as I’ve been here. And everybody’s getting better so I feel like my role (in stopping the run) doesn’t change much.”

No doubt extolling in the senior year spotlight, Dungey is ready to leave his mark as one of the key parts to making Babers rebirth of the program happen sooner than later.

“We’re on the cusp,” Dungey predicted. “We’ve got to get some younger guys to step up and I think we’ve got big things coming, especially in the future as well. I’m excited to see the direction this program goes. Unfortunately, I’ve been on the backside of it but I’m hoping to bring out the front side.”

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.