Once a laughing stock amongst Power Five football conferences, the ACC has risen to college football supremacy. 2016 certainly sealed the envelope on that. The conference had the nation’s best team (Clemson) and best player (Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson). Somewhere in the middle of all of it lies Syracuse. The Orange hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2013, which is also the last time SU won more than two conference games. But that does not mean Syracuse has lacked talent, even at the skill positions. This year, Dino Babers expects his team to make a great leap and it will start with the quarterback. Eric Dungey enter his third year under center and he stacks up pretty well amongst his ACC competition.
Looking at the landscape of the conference’s quarterbacks, there are plenty of returning stars, but there is also a lot of fresh blood. With the departures of Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky and Brad Kaaya to the NFL, some of the conference’s elite teams are reloading with their signal callers. However, the return of Jackson and Florida State’s Deondre Francois lock down the conference’s top two quarterbacks.
The top spot in tier two in the conference is up for grabs. If (and a big “if” at that) Dungey can stay healthy, his numbers could be the best amongst the ACC and even contend as the conference’s most valuable quarterback. Barring an absolute breakout performance from a first year starter, Dungey’s tier includes NC State’s Patrick Finley, Duke’s Daniel Jones and Pitt’s Max Browne.
Finley was great in his first season, guiding the Wolfpack to a dominating Independence Bowl win over Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, Jones guided the Blue Devils to the same 4-8 record as Syracuse and did it with very similar numbers to Dungey, despite the fact that Jones played essentially four more games (Dungey only threw nine passes before leaving the Clemson game with a season-ending injury). As for Browne, he was the 11th rated recruit in a class that has already sent the bulk of its players in the top 20 to the NFL. Browne originally committed to USC and spent his first three seasons with the Trojans before he was ousted by Heisman Candidate Sam Darnold. Browne has plenty to prove in his senior season if he doesn’t want to go down as the dud of his recruiting class where he was rated ahead of Derrick Henry, Laquon Treadwell Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey.
In the end, Dungey’s numbers will probably be better than everyone in tier two, and even tier one, but that is solely due to Babers’ system. However, if the yards translate to points, Dungey would solidify himself as the third best quarterback in the conference.