2020 hasn’t gone how head coach Dino Babers and Syracuse would have liked. Before the season even began, Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard opted out. Then in warmups against Georgia Tech, star safety Andre Cisco collided with back-up wide receiver Ed Hendrix. Cisco didn’t play, and was later confirmed to have torn his ACL. After that, he decides to go get paid for playing football.
In the very next game, Syracuse loses its focal point of the offense, when Tommy DeVito was sacked against Duke, suffering an ankle injury and was ruled out for the season. Then against Clemson, emerging bright spot Sean Tucker was spun down between three defenders on a tackle, and his ankle gets caught up in an awkward position. After walking off under his own power, he didn’t play in the second half. Babers has not said if Tucker will play Saturday against Wake Forest.
Meanwhile star defensive back Trill Williams didn’t play against Clemson. Redshirt junior Eric Coley has been out since Week 2, and recently DB Neil Nunn tore his ACL and underwent surgery.
So scrap all plans for the 2020 season. Babers has no choice but to develop his young players due to the injuries. This is particularly obvious in the secondary, where true freshmen Rob Hanna, Ja’Had Carter have become key contributors. Redshirt freshmen Garrett Williams and Aman Greenwood have also become important members of the third level of defense.
Williams has become one of Babers’ building blocks for the future. Alongside Tucker, and potentially Anthony Queeley, there is young talent on the roster. Now is the time for Babers to lay all his cards on the table and find out what he has.
Unlike most years, recruits aren’t going to abandon ship with a bad year. Especially with all the injuries Syracuse has dealt with, this year is basically a wash. By playing young players, Babers is also showing incoming recruits that freshmen can play right away.
Besides developing his youngsters, Babers and his staff need to heavily focus on recruiting. SU’s 2021 recruiting class is the best in Babers’ tenure. Players like Justin Lamson, Josh Hough and Duce Chestnut could be building blocks for Syracuse in the future.
Lamson can be the next dual-threat quarterback under Babers. The last one worked out pretty well. And unless Syracuse finds a pin-point passer, the best option under center is a dual-threat. Eric Dungey gave ACC defenses fits over his time at SU.
That also helps the running game, which will look a lot bulkier with 6-foot-2, 235 pound Hough. So far this season, Hough has been tearing defenses apart in his last high school season, and was named to Sports Illustrated’s Freak of the Week list.
Meanwhile, Chestnut could be the next in line to star in Syracuse’s secondary. Safeties/nickelback’s coach Nick Monroe has consistently produced high end talent. Now, it seems like he’s reloading with Chestnut and Williams.
While this season has been gloomy for Syracuse, the future’s still bright. Babers needs to figure out a solution to the quarterback position, and the defense needs to stop rushing attacks. But there are talented playmakers on the roster, and more on the way.