After a full year under Dino Babers, the media has closed their eyes, visualized an offense that will not huddle, opened their eyes and here we are. The Orange is coming off of a season where it was ranked in the top 50 in total offense; just a year removed from being 10th to last in the very same category. To say Babers has revolutionized the offense is a gross understatement. Now, people are taking the head coach and his team seriously by dishing out recognition to two of the major pieces to Babers’ self-proclaimed “fastest show on turf.”
This past week, quarterback Eric Dungey was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, given to the nation’s best overall player regardless of position, as well as the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List, given to the nation’s best quarterback. The Maxwell Watch List features 85 players, 35 of which are quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the O’Brien Watch List features 30 of the country’s most heralded quarterbacks. Last season, Dungey broke the SU single season passing record with 2,679 yards, despite missing three games including Syracuse’s 76-71 shootout loss with Pitt. He also threw for 15 touchdowns while completing nearly 65 percent of his passes.
As for a guy who can help build Dungey’s case for both awards, Erv Philips was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, honoring the country’s top receiver. Last season, now graduated Orange wideout Amba Etta-Tawo was a finalist for the award, despite not receiving preseason recognition by the committee. Last year, Philips went toe-to-toe with Etta-Tawo in receptions with 90 to the graduates 94. But Etta-Tawo had the heavy edge in receiving yardage with 1,482 yards compared to Philips’ 822. Regardless, with all that lost production, there is plenty of opportunity for the senior to add on to his stats.
While it would be difficult for either of these players to take home any of these awards, there seems to be a decent-sized advantage for Philips. Given Dungey’s injury history, there is no guarantees he is on the field for the entire season. Along with that, Dungey is not the same class as guys like Louisville’s returning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson as well as USC’s Sam Darnold and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield in terms of national recognition and exposure. Philips at least has the offensive void left by Etta-Tawo going for him in the hopes that he can up his yardage and have eye-popping numbers to plead a case as the nation’s best receiver.