With a win over the Colgate Raiders, the Syracuse Orange and Dino Babers opened up their season with a bang. While there were a few minor speed bumps along the way, a 33-7 win will give fans hope. Coach Babers stated after the game “most college football teams grow the most between their first and second game. It never changes.” If that statement holds true, then Syracuse has plenty to build off of.
Sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey completed 34 for 40 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. While that’s the kind of stat line you’d hope to see out of a sophomore quarterback, there were a few plays that could’ve favored either side. On Syracuse’s final touchdown, Dungey slipped a few defenders, and last second, through a strike to the end zone. While a great play on film, can those plays be made when the game is a closer or on the line? Midway through the season is when the elite teams start to shake themselves out of the pack. Can Dungey make something out of nothing when the game is mentally challenging? For the quarterback, this game was a step in the right direction. Now, it’s time to see how quickly he can grow and reach his full potential.
Running the ball wasn’t where coach Babers said he wanted it to be. Syracuse carried the ball 35 times for 117 yards averaging 3.3 yards per carry. While 3.3 yards per carry moves the chains, if not for freshman Moe Neal’s 49-yard touchdown run the average would be much lower. In a fast-paced, attack first, passing offense you have to establish the run. Without the run, passing lanes close much fast when defenses cheat back away from the line. Syracuse needs to find a way to move their defenders off the ball and create bigger lanes to run.
Colgate challenge Syracuse to beat them through the air taking away the run game. Syracuse was happy to oblige. On 40 passes receivers pulled in 437 total yards on their record setting night. Junior receiver tied a 39-year-old Art Monk record with 14 receptions in a single game. Senior Amba Etta-Tawo wasn’t far behind that with 12 receptions for 210 yards. The Orange got on the board with a 43-yard deep pass to the senior showing the deep plays are in the playbook. Six different receivers caught the ball for Syracuse averaging 10.9 yards per reception. Looking ahead this season, Syracuse will have lots of success if they can continue to spread the ball around.
Syracuse was in attack mode against Colgate. On three occasions Syracuse brought the offense back onto the field on 4th down. One has to wonder if that will be the new normal against defenses, or if Syracuse felt comfortable with a lead and was building a rhythm. Fans love to see an aggressive strategy. However, if the game is close these instances could be game changers. Look for the ‘Cuse to continue their aggressive offense throughout the season, but attempt less 4th down plays going forward.
The real test for the team starts Friday against the Louisville Cardinals. While the team got off to a hot start, conference play kicks off against a tough Louisville Cardinals team. The Cardinals are coming off a 70-14 domination of the Charlotte 49ers. If Louisville can get out to an early lead, the challenge will be making the adjustments to keep up with good football teams. Looking good when you’re winning is easy, how the team responds to being down will be the gauge for excitement. However, after their first win of the season, one thing is clear. If the Syracuse Orange aren’t where fans want them to be this season, they’re headed in the right direction.