Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito’s first season under center was a disappointment. Or was it? That’s the question The Fizz has attempted to answer. After appearing in seven games in 2018, the once four-star recruit was given the keys to the car in 2019.
The Buzz around the Orange was at an all-time high when DeVito took his first snap as the program’s full-time QB against Liberty last August. The three months that followed showed the world that DeVito, and his teammates, were not ready for the moments that buzz would throw them into. How much of the blame falls on DeVito’s shoulders?
The Case for DeVito
Let’s start by looking at DeVito’s stats from last year: 213/337 (63.2%), 2,360 yards, 19 TD and 5 INT. He ranked 6th in the ACC in yards, 3rd in completion percentage, 6th in touchdowns and T-1st in interceptions (more than 200 attempts).
Those are strong numbers. While the ACC isn’t the gold standard, it’s the conference that the Orange hope to win one day. Keep in mind that Syracuse routinely finishes near the bottom of the league in the standings and the recruiting rankings. That means it’s a big deal that SU has a quarterback who is statistically among the ACC’s best.
Unfortunately for DeVito, the Orange led the league in something else: sacks. Opponents sacked a Syracuse quarterback 50 times last year. DeVito was individually dropped for a loss 44, a number that also stood alone in the ACC. The offensive line didn’t give DeVito the time he needed to consistently make plays down the field. Those numbers are way too high, especially for a team with a young quarterback.
Dino Babers told us at the ACC Kickoff that the offensive line was going to be the key to the season. He was right. The group was so bad that DeVito never had a chance to reach his full potential.
The case against DeVito
DeVito made some head-scratching decisions last year. In the play above, he throws an interceptions on first down in a crucial situation. A touchdown would have jolted the Dome crowd into a frenzy. Instead, Clemson gets the ball back and cruises to a blowout win.
Here’s another example of poor decision making that most fans have probably forgotten about.
What a lucky break for DeVito and the Orange offense. Who knows how the season opener would have turned out had the Flames capitalized on that mistake. Overall, DeVito made far too many poor decisions last year. While the first-year starter did improve as the season went on, his early struggles appeared to set the tone for the rest of the season.
When it comes to wide receivers, DeVito didn’t have many targets to choose from. Transfer Trishton Jackson was the only player who caught over 40 passes. Sophomore Taj Harris was second on the team with 37 receptions, followed by senior Sean Riley. At some point, the quarterback has to be held responsible for the lack of chemistry down the field. DeVito and Harris never appeared to be on the same page. It felt like Jackson was the only player that DeVito consistently targeted, especially when it came to deep patterns. Jackson projects to be drafted later this week, which means the offense needs to figure out how its going to replace his production.
Most of DeVito’s flaws tapered off as the season went on. He went seven-straight games without an interception to end the year. If DeVito can find better chemistry with his receivers next year, there’s reason to believe he will bounce back from a choppy full-time introduction to the ACC.
An improved offense line should lead to an improved DeVito, who deserves credit for adapting and limiting the mind-boggling decisions as the year went on. Looking back on it, the hype surrounding last year’s team was unfair. The team wasn’t ready to handle it and neither was its newly-appointed leader.
DeVito has all the tools needed to turn things around whenever the season begins.