Okay, okay. Yes, it has only been two games, but Syracuse Football looks atrocious right now. First, the Orange get manhandled by North Carolina. Then this past weekend, they can’t figure it out against Pittsburgh. It may be premature and a little early to have this conversation, but who cares. Syracuse fans are upset, and rightfully so. So let’s have the convo… Who is on the hot seat right now?
Victim numero uno for the hot seat has to be Dino Babers. As the head coach you are going to take all the praise during the good times and all of the blame during the bad times. Well, right now is a bad time. The SU offense looks horrid, even with Tommy DeVito having a year as the starting quarterback under his belt. Babers is supposed to be some kind of QB whisperer as he always likes to bring up how he molded Jimmy Garapolo, who is now the starting QB for the San Francisco 49ers. It doesn’t seem like he’s whispering anything to DeVito though. And sure, the offensive line doesn’t help the DeVito conversation, but there have been plenty of times where he gets sacked because he holds the ball for too long and not because the O-line is bad. As for the defense, it actually looks great, but the credit for that should go to Tony White and his new scheme.
There is not too much hope for Syracuse right now. It is not outlandish to say the Orange will go winless this season. If you want to be hopeful and say they get a win or two, then fine. But here’s the question– where is the line drawn for Babers? He just signed a massive contract a few years ago, but if he only wins a couple games this year, does he get fired? Again, I know it is super early to be talking about this, but come on. You can’t say you haven’t thought about it. The line should be drawn at three wins. If Babers can get three wins this year, he should be fine. If he can only get two wins or less, he might be on the chopping block. Either way, right now Babers should be feeling the heat because he is squarely perched on the hot seat.
When a new offensive coordinator comes in, most of the time things change, just like how White has changed the SU defense. Here’s the thing about Sterling Gilbert, though, he came to Syracuse and nothing has changed about the offense. The same plays are being called, in the same formations, with the same personnel. Plus, Gilbert’s play calling in the red zone has been embarrassingly bad. For example, against North Carolina, Syracuse got into the red zone and tried to run the ball right up the middle two straight times with Jawhar Jordan, who is only 5-foot-9, 172 lbs. After both of those plays were stuffed at the line of scrimmage, Gilbert finally called a passing play that ended in DeVito getting sacked. Gilbert not only hasn’t changed the offense, but he has arguably made it worse. Not to mention, he is not even using the tight ends!!! He is most definitely deserving of a spot on the hot seat.
Also, here’s a little coaching tip for Gilbert– you can’t bubble screen teams into submission. Hope that helps!
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. What are we going to do with you? He came in as Babers’s golden child, but he’s currently playing like a backup. His leash is getting shorter and shorter each week, and it’s his fault. Yes, the offensive line isn’t great and gives up a couple sacks per game, but he also allows himself to get sacked quite a bit. His reluctance to throw the ball has led to him hitting the floor many times.
One of the most infuriating parts of DeVito’s play this year is his inability to go through his progression. If you watch him during a pass play, he gets the ball, drops back, and locks his eyes on the hot route receiver, which 90% of the time is Taj Harris. DeVito never looks off of that receiver, even if they are covered. A talented quarterback would look there first, see that it is covered, then look to his second, third, and fourth options to see who is open. DeVito just doesn’t do that.
Syracuse fans wanted and expected DeVito to take a step up this year, but he hasn’t. You can even make an argument that he’s regressed a little bit. Sure, he doesn’t have Trishton Jackson or any talented running backs anymore, but good quarterbacks make do with what they have. DeVito on the other hand, has taken a step back and is now getting pulled for Rex Culpepper. Syracuse has only scored one touchdown this season through two games and it was because of Culpepper, not DeVito. Good luck on that hot seat Tommy.
This one is a little out there, but it just needs to be said. Andre Szymt won the Lou Groza Award for best kicker in the entire country his freshman year and now he looks like the walk-on that he is. Last season he was replaced by Sterling Hofrichter, the punter, a few times because Babers didn’t trust Szymt’s leg to get the ball through the uprights on further kicks. This season is still young, but he has already missed a 29-yard field goal. Syracuse doesn’t really have anyone to replace Szymt, but the conversation should at least be brought up.