Orange Fizz


Is The Bye Week Coming at the Right Time?

Ever since Dino Babers took over the head coaching job in 2016, Syracuse’s performance in the week after the bye has been rather shaky. The Orange are just 2-7 in such games in Babers’ tenure, among them the now-infamous drubbing at Louisville last year. The good news is, SU has as many wins now as it had entering that contest against the Cardinals in the middle of November. That’s also the bad news. Syracuse enters the bye white-hot and undefeated. But even with how well Babers’ squad has been playing, is the week off coming at an opportune time? There are cases to be made that it is and it isn’t.

Let’s start with why Babers could not ask for a better week off. His squad is banged up. Sean Tucker has gone down on the field not once, not twice, but three times in just five games this season. And yes, he went off against Wagner, but you may not find a bigger cupcake opponent in all of Division 1. Tucker needs time to get healthy. As does Derek McDonald. The redshirt freshman had filled in nicely after Stefon Thompson went down, even picking up (pun intended) a pick-six against Louisville. But he has missed the last two games. As the schedule gets tougher, the Orange need McDonald and the rest of its defense to be ready to go. Key pieces like Chris Elmore and Thompson are already done for the season, there’s no reason that number needs to increase. There’s why the bye week may be coming at the perfect time. SU needs to get healthy here and now, there’s no better chance to do that than with a week off.

But that 2-7 record coming off of the bye is jarring. As is who Syracuse is playing in its first game after the bye.

Yep. The Wolfpack did lose to Clemson on Saturday, but a wounded animal always fights back harder. Not to mention each of SU’s last two matches with NC State haven’t been ordinary, and that isn’t a good thing. Remember when Rex Culpepper spiked it on 4th down? How about last year’s non-competitive game in Raleigh? Yuck.

There’s also the momentum factor to take into consideration. Syracuse is 5-0 for the first time since 1987. Could a week off disrupt that mojo? Just look at last year’s NFL Playoffs, where both teams that had a bye in the first round lost in the second round. No bueno.

So SU’s history isn’t great under Babers coming off of a bye, it plays a very tough opponent, and momentum could be halted quickly. The signs point toward this week coming at a bad time. But, could the sheer number of injuries on the roster trump all of that? It’s both a fascinating and difficult question to debate.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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