Item: it’s taken only 29 games of the Dino Babers era to put Syracuse football within shouting distance of the Top 25 polls. Shoot, we’re proclaiming Orange football IS ranked this week, No. 28, so a shout-out to all for an eye-opening accomplishment now being absorbed by the sport’s national followers, especially in such a short amount of time considering the millisecond world we live in. Going back to Babers introductory press conference on December 7, 2015, Pearl Harbor Day for the Hawaiian-born son of a Navy officer, and which seems so long ago, it was the new coach’s request for “belief without evidence” that became the early pitch to his holdover players and recruits alike, and which has quickly taken form to turn the program’s fan base into a large group of believers.
If anything, and ironically, Syracuse football didn’t play fast enough in the end last weekend, worn down by the conditions and a talented team, allowing just enough time for Clemson’s gutsy comeback and resulting in the first SU football defeat since the Saturday after last Thanksgiving.
The last minute loss certainly wiped away thoughts of back-to-back 4-8 seasons under Babers, and beginning with Saturday afternoon’s annual dual with Pittsburgh (12:20 p.m. ET / ACCN-Sirius XM) at Heinz Field (SU is 1-7 all-time there since the stadium opened in 2001), it’s now a question of how many wins this team can achieve against a now seemingly friendlier remaining schedule, up first on the road with the taste of defeat evaporating slowly as each day of practice leads to week six, with a much appreciated off weekend looming after Pitt.
“We have to move on from that game (the Clemson loss), Babers quickly pointed out at his weekly Monday press outing at the Manley football complex. “We can’t finish and reach our goals if we keep looking back to the past.”
With the theme of, what else, but fast, Babers has asked everyone to move on to preparing for Pittsburgh, already pleased with how his team reacted watching the Clemson film, installing the mindset that this week’s challenge is beating a Panther’s program that Syracuse has lost to 13 of the last 17 times they’ve met.
“We work hard on our culture. You guys (the media) are around us, you guys see us,” Babers reiterated Monday.
“I really want to be consistent with these young men. I don’t want to be wishy-washy, I don’t want to be grey,” he continued. “They do something wrong, they know what’s going to happen. They do something right, they know what’s going to happen. I think that consistency is what’s got to transfer over to the football field. I believe this team has it (the consistency needed to succeed).”
The first order of business, enough consistent play to record at least two more wins for bowl eligibility, something that satisfyingly for Orange Nation looks to be right on a fast-paced timeline for this season.