Today was Dino Babers only media availability during the bye week. With a lot of questions heading into the second half of the season, Babers gave us some answers and some non-answers with the bye week on the horizon.
On the health of Ravian Pierce and Antwan Cordy:
“It’s looking good. I can’t promise you that it’s going to happen, but I think both are looking good.”
This is potentially huge, especially on the defensive side. The classic bye week cliché revolves around the phrase “getting our guys healthy.” Pierce’s return can help solidify the goal line offense, even though Gabe Horan and Aaron Hackett have been solid replacements. But Cordy is the one that is essential to the second half. The redshirt senior hasn’t played in a second half of a season since 2015. With the Orange’s defense sputtering lately, especially in the tackling department, a healthy Cordy’s return to the lineup will significantly impact the struggling run defense.
On college football’s ineligible man downfield penalty:
“I think we’ve got a lot of rules, and whatever those guys decide is the best interest of the game, we’ll abide by them. Right now I think the most exciting game there is when it comes to football is college football. I know people like the pros, but I think there’s nothing more exciting than college football, so I think that our rules may be more conducive to the fans and having a more exciting game than maybe even the NFL.”
In what is a ridiculous rule, the Orange has been on the wrong side of ineligible man downfield penalties in back-to-back games. Had the rule been changed or Syracuse avoided these penalties, they likely would have beaten Clemson. This was kind of a non-answer from Babers to avoid hot water in the PR department and with the NCAA, but these penalties certainly have hurt the Orange with their run-pass options and having linemen downfield. This simple rule could have severely changed the course of the 2018 college football season.
On the team’s overall first half performance:
“I think the first half of the season has had its ups and downs, but I’m not down on this football team. I mean, you can pick and choose your moments, but you’re talking about a 4-2 football team at the start of both the games they lost, they were winning in the fourth quarter. Now, that part is disappointing. But to be ahead of a Pitt team at home and be ahead of a Clemson team at home at the start — at away games at the start of the fourth quarter tells you how close this team is.”
This comment seems to drift back towards the fanbase’s attitude when moral victories were deemed a success. That certainly should not be the case anymore now that this team has shown that it’s off of its moral victory high horse. Leading Pitt at the start of the fourth quarter is not a crowning achievement for this season. All the latter part of this comment shows is that owning a lead into the final 15 minutes of a football game is acceptable. That should not be the mentality of a year three head coach. Closing those games should be a given at this point, especially when you held a double digit lead in both games.