Syracuse proved that it’s capable of beating a quality opponent on Saturday, but that’s not all it showed.
If you watched the Orange down NC State, you would’ve seen that Syracuse has a big-time player in quarterback Eric Dungey. Not just a talented, effective or impressive player, but a big-time one.
Dungey was named ACC Quarterback of the Week, and even passed Donovan McNabb as SU’s all-time leader in total offensive yards on Saturday. However, on top of all, the senior once again showed that he is big-time.
Being big-time isn’t necessarily reflected in the stat book. It’s not a statistic, but rather a characteristic that any coach should dream about having in his quarterback. Fortunately for Dino Babers, he has that in Dungey.
Despite his talent, Dungey is not the perfect quarterback. He’s not always at his best, but when he is, the stakes are often high.
Numerous times, Dungey has played his best football in some of his biggest games, and it’s been like that from the start.
In 2015, the Orange was set to roll with senior captain Terrel Hunt at signal caller until he tore his Achilles on the team’s third drive of the season.
In stepped a young backup, almost 3,000 miles from home and a mere three months removed from his high school graduation. But guess what? The moment didn’t get the best of him. Not in the slightest.
Dungey’s first full drive went 63 yards on four plays, ending with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Ervin Philips. Behind Dungey, the Orange went on to win 47-0.
Dungey spent the rest of his time on the field during his freshman season getting acclimated, but injuries kept him out of four games, including SU’s last three.
The next year, Syracuse went just 4-8, but not because of its quarterback. The Orange was 4-4 when Dungey suffered another season-ending injury, and man, was that a tremendous blow.
Sure, Dungey was leading the ACC in passing yards and completions per game at the time, but he had also again shown he was big-time.
In a Week 7 victory over No. 17 Virginia Tech, Dungey tallied 417 total yards and his highest QBR of the season. It was also Syracuse’s lone win over a ranked opponent in 2016, which should not be a coincidence. Dungey often elevates his game when the stakes are raised, and it’s reflected in the team’s results.
That’s also why when he posted his highest QBR total of last season (2017), the Orange beat, you guessed it, No. 2 Clemson, 27-24. In one of the most momentous victories in program history, Dungey threw for 278 yards, three touchdowns, and added 61 yards on the ground.
Now, fresh off guiding Syracuse past NC State, Dungey has only solidified his status as a big-time player. The win was this year’s team’s first over a ranked opponent, and it came in what was very likely Dungey’s best game of the season thus far.
Furthermore, after watching Tommy DeVito relieve him against North Carolina and lead the Orange to victory, Dungey knew he had doubters to prove wrong. What followed was a lethal aerial assault on the Wolfpack that produced 411 yards and three touchdowns. That’s what big-time players do.
Lastly, it’s no secret that big-time players are missed when they are gone. Since taking over as the starter in 2015, Dungey has missed the last three games of each season and ten games total. In those ten, Syracuse is 1-9, with its only win coming back in 2015 over a 3-9 Boston College team.
Moving forward, Dungey has to protect himself better, in spite of the heart he gives on every play. Already bowl eligible, Dungey’s health is arguably the main factor in keeping this good thing going for the Orange.