In Dino Babers’ high-octane offense, the quarterback is the motor that makes everything run. Now with a year of experience in an unorthodox system, these signal-callers look to shift this exciting offense into a higher gear.
Last season, Eric Dungey took a huge statistical leap from Scott Shafer to Babers. In the eight games that the rising junior completed, he eclipsed 300 yards in all but two games, one of which came in the middle of a hurricane. This all comes after never topping that mark in 2015.
The question with Dungey isn’t his talent. He has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC and has even appeared on national watchlists as not just the country’s best quarterback, but best player. There’s no doubt that Dungey could finish the season atop the ACC, and perhaps some of the country’s, statistical categories. The question is whether or not he will be healthy. The Oregon native has missed multiple games in each of his first two seasons with the Orange. Staying on the field is the big “if” for his 2017, but if Dungey plays it smart on the field and gets the necessary protection from his offensive line, then his potential is through the roof with the up-tempo offense.
If Dungey can’t complete the season, there are an interesting assortment of backups. First is Zack Mahoney. He has been in a reserve role his entire college career. However, the walk-on turned scholarship QB has answered the call in some of SU’s biggest games over the past two years. In 2015, Mahoney started against both LSU, eighth in the country, and Clemson, number one in the nation, and only lost by 10 in both games. Last year, Mahoney started the final three games of the season, including the shootout of the season against Pitt where both teams combined for more than 137 points. In that game, Mahoney proved that Babers’ system works. He aired it out for 440 yards and five touchdowns, albeit in a losing effort.
However, Mahoney doesn’t enter 2017 without some competition for the backup spot. Four-star recruit Tommy DeVito enters the mix as the most heralded freshman on the roster. A lot of outside speculation suggested DeVito would take over the backup spot by the end of camp after he took second team reps, but an illness at the latter half of camp may have derailed some of his progress. Of course there is still plenty of time for DeVito to impress in practice, but it may be in the back of Babers and the rest of the coaching staffs’ mind to preserve DeVito’s redshirt season.