Instant Juice: Breaking down Syracuse at the 2021 ACC Football Kickoff

Josh Black ACC Kickoff
Syracuse defensive lineman Josh Black speaks with reporters at ACC Kickoff.

A quick take on Syracuse football’s participation Thursday in the 2021 ACC Football Kickoff media event, held on the edge of uptown Charlotte at The Westin Hotel:

WHAT HAPPENED: One day after the Coastal Division teams did likewise, Syracuse joined its six Atlantic Division rivals by providing multiple rounds of interviews with the ACC Network, a press conference format, individual breakout sessions for each player and coach, and one-on-one interviews along the mini radio/streaming audio row. Dino Babers, making his fifth Kickoff appearance (the 2020 event was canceled), and seniors DT Josh Black, WR Taj Harris, and OL Aaron Servais all were nattily attired representing the Orange.

ANALYSIS: Amazingly, in his press conference, Babers was not asked about the quarterback battle between Tommy DeVito and transfer Garrett Shrader. Babers was questioned about the seniors on hand, the offensive line, his pride as being only one of 11 African-American Div. 1 head coaches, the season opener at Ohio (see below), the running backs and defensive backs, but no QB talk. That was likely just as well for Babers who will likely have a defining decision to make on the starter for September 4.

HERO: Later, appearing on the ACC Network, Babers did field the question seeking to know who would be the starting quarterback, and once again he deflected providing a specific answer: “This is what I want. I want the guy who runs out there as our starting quarterback the first game, to finish as our starting quarterback upright. In the years in which we started a season and finished a season with the same quarterback, no matter how many quarterbacks played, we’ve got a winning season.” In other words, Babers is simply not going to answer that question until he absolutely has to.

ZERO: Interestingly, the Syracuse name only appeared three times in the Kickoff Event media notes with only one reference to a current player, so the Orange didn’t even get enough “love” heading into the event. It makes sense though, as the Orange’s chances of winning the ACC this season are the worst in the conference, so they will probably get less recognition across the ACC for the time being. One mention referred to Ernie Davis as the top selection in the 1962 NFL Draft. Tommy DeVito was listed as the fifth most-experienced starting quarterback in the league with 15 career starts (Kenny Puckett of Pitt leads with 36 starts, Panthers play in the Dome November 27). It was also noted that SU had one NFL pick (Andre Cisco-3rd round Jacksonville) in this past spring’s draft.

» Related: Syracuse great Brendan Carney expects ‘6 or 7 wins’ and bowl game

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse begins pre-season workouts outside and inside at the Manley athletic complex on August 7, heading into the season opener September 4 at Ohio University’s Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. Ohio coach Frank Solich (age 76) announced his retirement July 14 for health reasons, turning the program over to offensive coordinator and associate head coach Tim Albin. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: CBS Sports Network.

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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.