To pass the time during what has been a very long SU football offseason, Syracuse fans have often wondered aloud about how to help the Orange offense. To be sure, last year’s Orange O struggled dearly on Dino Babers’ watch, finishing last in the ACC in points scored and total yards.
Here at Fizz, we’ve been doing the same thing. A little while ago, we wrote about whether or not Dino should ditch his up-tempo “Orange is the New Fast” look for something a little more conservative or at least more manageable for his personnel.
That “something” could be a blast from the past: a page or two out of former head coach Paul Pasqualoni’s option playbook.
For those of you unfamiliar, Paul Pasqualoni coached Syracuse from 1991-2004 and accumulated a 107-59-1 record along with six bowl wins. Pasqualoni’s run-heavy “freeze option” offense was a big part of his success, and it ultimately helped recruit Donovan McNabb to Syracuse.
At this point, we’ve established that the Syracuse offense functioned much better under Eric Dungey, primarily because he was a multi-dimensional talent who could run as well as any back on the team. Current QB Tommy DeVito isn’t the same type of mobile player, and the changes in SU’s offensive gameplan (and success) show it.
For that reason, there’s some buzz around Syracuse about Mississippi State quarterback transfer Garrett Shrader. He’s comparatively inexperienced, but he brings a fresh set of legs to an offense in desperate need of playmakers. Dino Babers has yet to commit to a quarterback, so the door remains open for Shrader to possibly play his way into the job.
Keeping that in mind, a potential Shrader-led offense might benefit from the added wrinkle in the form of option plays. Naturally, Dino can’t change his entire offensive philosophy in an offseason and become the new Georgia Tech, but throwing in some read and pitch options into the offense could be a boon. You add deception to the run game, a ball-control element to the offense, and it’d take some heat off an offensive line that’s allowed 88 sacks in pass-protection the last two seasons. Can anyone honestly say that a Shrader and Sean Tucker option-heavy backfield wouldn’t put up some points?
With a mobile quarterback in tow and one of the ACC’s better running back rooms, the ingredients are there. For Dino Babers, anything might be worth a try this year – or at least worth a wink to a more successful era of SU football.