With early signing day in the rearview mirror, Dino Babers seems to be focussing on his coaching staff. After a five-win season that Babers defended as a success considering the low expectations the nation had for the Orange going into the year, SU saw a mass exodus from the coaching staff. Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Sterlin Gilbert, Tight Ends Coach Reno Ferri and Defensive Line Coach Vince Reynolds are all out. With the hire of Special Teams Coordinator Bob Ligashesky, Babers is starting to fill the vacancies.
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported on Sunday that the Orange are targeting former Virginia coaches Robert Anae to fill the offensive coordinator position and Jason Beck as the QB Coach.
Unlike most of the OC applicants, Anae was not fired from his last job. Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall surprised the nation when he resigned. That meant that Anae hit the market as a highly coveted play caller. This hire makes too much sense for Syracuse. The former BYU assistant led the Cavaliers to an elite offensive performance in 2021. UVA ranked third nationally in yards per game with over 516, and scored nearly 35 points per game (22nd in the FBS.) The numbers speak for themselves, but Anae has yet another nugget to his resumé that should make Babers’ eyes pop. He has a surplus of experience and success with dual-threat QBs. Bryce Perkins parlayed his time under Anae to an NFL roster spot with the Rams. Brennan Armstrong is coming off the best passing season in program history. For his career, Armstrong ranks second among all Cavs QBs in career passing.
Like it or not, Garrett Shrader is here to stay. Contrary to popular belief, that’s probably a good thing. The throwing ability was there in flashes last season. If Shrader can become a more reliable passer, even marginally, then his game will take off. After all, his running ability was complimented perfectly by All-American Sean Tucker. The tailback carried the offense, and the two of them together morphed the run-pass-option into a run-run-pass-option. The one-two punch in the backfield was practically unmatched all year. Anae is the guy to not only keep that going, but to build on it too.
Jason Beck deserves plenty of credit for his role in the emergence of Armstrong too. It seems as perfect a fit for Beck to come in and work with Shrader and the rest of the quarterbacks as Anae. Then again, they might be a package deal. After so much success together, there is no reason to separate themselves unless Beck gets an OC job. Beck is a proven commodity, but it will also be nice to have a coach for the offense and another for the quarterbacks, rather than have one guy take on two roles like Gilbert.
The stage is set and the names are out there. This offseason, and these coaching hires, whether they are successful or not, will be a turning point in Babers’ career. In fact, these hires will likely be the determining factor to see whether or not Babers gets to finish out his contract.