Syracuse football has taken some serious hits in the past few seasons, granted a level of respect far below what a school with Syracuse’s history should get. The disheartening 1-10 record last season was painful, and college football odds experts are not necessarily warm on Syracuse bouncing back. But that’s why they play the games, and Dino Babers is gearing up his team for a season in which redemption and positive results is paramount.
We’re less than a month away from kickoff, and here are two storylines to follow this upcoming season.
How Will Tommy DeVito Rebound After His Injury?
Syracuse needs help under center after last year, that’s a given. The ACC schedule would be tough enough even with a certainly in the huddle, but SU’s QB situation needs clarity. SU has the talented Tommy DeVito fighting for his job, after being ordained as the eventual starter as soon as he committed to the Orange. But his season ending leg injury in the fourth game last year threw the season into a spiral. Now that DeVito is back from injury all signs point to him as the starter for the Orange, but can he excel?
The redshirt junior has shown signs of promise in his years on the Hill, even while backing up Eric Dungey. He took over the starting role in 2019 and led the Orange to a 4-7 record. But last year was cut short by injury, and now DeVito is being asked to drag the Orange back to respectability and restore his career.
DeVito needs more consistent play in August to lock down the job and give SU fans optimism. He needs to kick start an offense that managed a meager 17.8 points per game in 2020. Dino Babers says the competition is “wide open” and has even kept the door open to a two-QB rotation if needed. If DeVito can start the season plugged in and his offensive line is better there’s hope. Syracuse’s line allowed the most sacks in college football last season. If DeVito struggles, former Mississippi State QB Garrett Shrader is the option to take over. And his scrambling ability might be necessary if the line is once again leaky.
Will This Be A Bounce Back Year For Babers Reputation?
Babers has the enthusiasm and charisma to make people excited. But he’s also managed to take the Orange from the highest highs to the lowest lows. The memorable 10-win season of ’18, led to a depressing 5-7 in ’19, and then the 1-10 debacle last year. Last year injuries certainly sunk the season, but sloppy play also haunted them. It’s time to wonder if last year was a hiccup or the unfortunate reality for the state of the program.
The injuries created a situation where plenty of players got reps, and now those returning Orange have some experience. There’s now a significant level of depth at each position. The expectations nationally have cratered. Most experts have picked the Orange at the bottom of the ACC. Babers needs to use that as fuel for his players, a season of redemption and proving people wring. If he can do that, perhaps squeeze 5 wins out of this program, he should be safe for at least one more season.