In the end, Friday night’s game between Syracuse and Colgate was what it was supposed to be: a coming out party. All eyes focused on the Carrier Dome for the debut of the Dino Babers’ offense, and it did not shy away from the spotlight. 554 yards of total offense. 25 first downs. 33 points. Expectations were crazy high for the offense in it’s debut, but it might have just lived up to the bill. It was (statistically) one of the best offensive nights in Syracuse history. Eric Dungey’s 355 yards passing is ninth-best in school history, and Erv Philips tied the school record with 14 receptions.
Babers was the one expected to make a bang, but some other new faces made their names known with their play on the field. Graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo caught 12 passes for 210 yards (fifth in school history), and on his first carry as a college running back Moe Neal took one 49 yards for a touchdown.
“I love the atmosphere and those fast tracks,” said Etta-Tawo. “You play fast, you make plays.”
After giving up an opening drive touchdown, the Syracuse defense wouldn’t allow another score. The unit gave up only 143 yards and held senior quarterback Jake Melville to 82 yards passing and 10 on the ground. The side of the ball with the most questions around it passed the first test.
The offense did a little bit of everything you wanted. There were big plays, long drives, and it was all fast. But according to Babers, we haven’t seen anything yet.
“That’ll be the slowest game you ever see us play,” said Babers. “Did you see the paint drying? I did. We’ll never be that slow again.”
“I don’t think it was fast enough,” Dungey later added. “There’s tons of room for improvement. [I’m] just glad we got the win, but I’m looking forward to getting in tomorrow and watching the film with these guys.”
It wasn’t a perfect game. The Orange failed to score deep in Colgate territory multiple times, and Cole Murphy had to take three field goals from the red zone because of it. And aside from the Moe Neal 49-yarder, the Orange averaged only two yards per carry.
“The one turnover is not acceptable,” said Babers. “Not scoring touchdowns in the red zone, that is something we need to clean up.”
It was Colgate, but it was just about everything you could have asked for out of a game against Colgate. The offense looked great, the defense held up it’s end of the bargain, and it was fun to watch. Oh, and Syracuse won.
As for what’s next, Babers and Dungey agreed it was time to hit the film room. The Orange has Louisville coming to the Dome next week, and the performance the Orange gave Friday might not be enough to beat the Cardinals.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson