Carlson: Babers must show Syracuse football’s progress in 2021

Tommy DeVito looks to throw against North Carolina in the game's first overtime. Syracuse would win 40-37. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

We’re about two weeks from Syracuse football’s 2021 opener against Ohio, and there are still plenty of lingering questions as practice winds down. We asked all of them to’s Chris Carlson in this week’s The Juice on the Cuse Podcast, presented by

Among the top questions is who has the edge in the quarterback battle between incumbent starting quarterback Tommy DeVito and Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader.

“If I was a betting person, I would certainly bet on Tommy DeVito,” Carlson says. “That’s not unexpected because he knows the system and Garrett Shrader is still learning.”

Babers has kept practices closed for the most part, and media has had limited access. Of what little Carlson has seen, he’s found DeVito to be more pinpoint on his throws.

Then again, quarterbacks aren’t allowed to be hit at this time of year, and Shrader’s advantage over DeVito is his quickness, something that’s hard to judge.

“(Tommy) is going to shine in those situations,” Carlson says.

Another area of concern is the offensive line, which was one of the worst units in all of college football in 2020.

The good news for the Orange is that it returns all of its main contributors from last year, and adds several important pieces, including Florida transfer Chris Bleich and JUCO transfer Jakob Bradford.

Another reason for optimism is health. Tackle Airon Servais, now a sixth-year senior, played hurt through most of last year. He’s finally healthy.

“I certainly think they’ll be better,” Carlson says.

» Related: Former Syracuse football DB has high expectations for the Orange in 2021

That is good news for head coach Dino Babers, who is feeling the heat over a dreadful 1-10 season in 2020. While Babers isn’t squarely on the hot seat, he could very well be if the Orange struggles again.

“Syracuse is looking for every reason to keep Dino Babers,” Carlson says. “He’s got two years left on his contract after this one. Syracuse isn’t a program that is flush with boosters and can toss money at someone to go away.”

In the end, Carlson doesn’t predict the Orange will be going to a bowl game. More likely, the Orange is in the 4-5 win territory, which should be enough to buy Babers another year.

“If Syracuse can sell the idea that they made progress this year and they get 4-5 wins,” Carlson says, “I think Dino will be fine.”

Afterward, editor in chief Brad Bierman calls in to discuss an alliance forming between the ACC, Pac-12 and Big 10, and Carmelo Anthony’s move to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Catch up on all episodes of “The Juice on the Cuse Podcast,” a Syracuse Orange podcast, by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]