For the first time in the Dino Babers era (and for the first time since 2015) Syracuse football is undefeated through its first three games of the season after a 30-7 drubbing of Florida State on Saturday afternoon. SU really dominated the entire game from start to finish and every facet of the game, whether it be offense, defense, or special teams looked incredibly impressive in the win.
With that kind of performance, it would be easy to look at the win and say, “Oh, we learned that Syracuse might actually have a chance this year,” but we here at Orange Fizz like to go little bit more in-depth than that. What did the game really teach us about some of the ins and outs of Dino Babers’s bunch? What do we know after this game that we really didn’t before it?
The offense won’t go down in flames if Eric Dungey misses extended time
For the past three years now, one of the biggest concerns surrounding the SU football program has been the health of Eric Dungey. He’s missed at least three games in each of the past three seasons and in those games that he’s missed, the SU attack has looked like a shell of its normal self. But that was with the likes of Zack Mahoney and Rex Culpepper under center. Yes, they both showed flashes of greatness in their playing time, but neither of them has the talent of the “Golden Boy”, Tommy DeVito. He was the replacement after Dungey went down with another injury (this time a finger to the eye) in the second quarter and after looking very so-so in appearances against both Western Michigan and Wagner, DeVito had himself a coming-out party. The redshirt freshman completed 11 of his 16 passes for 144 yards and a score, adding another TD on the ground. He looked calm, cool and collected in the pocket and made all the right reads. His throw to Jamal Custis to get the Orange down to the one-yard line was probably the highlight of the day. Frankly, the offense looked better when DeVito was in there than when Dungey was. He proved that if this Dungey injury is more serious than we think it is right now, then there won’t be as big a drop-off in the offense as there was in past seasons and that’s certainly a reassuring feeling for Orange fans.
The defensive line is who we thought they were
With question marks in both a young secondary and an inexperienced linebacking corps this offseason, the one sure thing about the Syracuse defense was that the D-Line was going to be legit. We knew that Alton Robinson, Kendall Coleman and Chris Slayton were going to bring it nearly every week, but against Wagner and Western Michigan, we really didn’t see the kind of dominance we’d expect from them against lower-level competition with just one sack from the starting D-LIne. That all changed against the Seminoles. The Orange pass rush was by far the best we’ve seen it all season, getting to FSU QB Deondre Francois four times for sacks and another five times for QB hurries. Essentially, Francois spent most of the afternoon on his rear end. The big boys up front made his day incredibly uncomfortable and that’s something they’ll need to keep doing as ACC play rolls along, so Saturday gave us some reassurance and a Dennis Green moment.
SU has yet to face a true test this season
When fans first got a look at SU’s schedule this season, they probably circled this FSU game as the Orange’s first real test. I mean, for goodness sake, going into Saturday’s matchup, SU was 1-10 all-time against the Seminoles and hadn’t won since 1966. FSU has been a powerhouse in college football for a very long time, so fans had every right to think that it would provide some resistance to an SU team that had basically cruised through the first two weeks of the season. That is not what happened. The Orange looked absolutely dominant from start to finish and the Noles either didn’t care enough to pull themselves out of the hole or just weren’t good enough to do it. After that beatdown, it’s probably fair to say that FSU just isn’t that good this season. Because of that realization, you can also come to the conclusion that the Orange have yet to be tested this year. They’ve won each game they’ve played by double digits and are averaging 49 points a game, while outscoring their opponents 147-59. Heck, they’ve never even trailed this season. They’ve just been flat-out better than every team they’ve played and that doesn’t look to be stopping next week when a mediocre-at-best UCONN squad comes to town. It’s kind of hard to believe, but it looks like the Orange’s first real test will come in week five against #2 Clemson. And we all remember what went down the last time SU tussled with the Tigers.