Dino Babers gets criticized a lot. Often, it’s for fair reasons. Whether it stems from recruiting struggles or his team being undisciplined. However, when he succeeds, he deserves to be praised, and right now is one of those times.
Babers coached a great game on Saturday in Syracuse’s 48-7 win over Western Michigan. It began in the first minute of the contest when the Orange got punched in the mouth. Broncos’ running back Jalen Buckley ran for a 75-yard touchdown and Oronde Gadsden got hurt all before the first quarter timer crossed the 14 minute mark.
That’s a lot of adversity to face in a short amount of time against a team SU was expected to beat handily. As Babers said, the game could have gone one of two ways at the point. Either Western Michigan was going to keep its momentum and give Syracuse a scare, or the Orange were going to respond and take control.
The fact that the latter happened immediately shows that Babers had his team prepared. Syracuse didn’t give up another point, and was up 45-7 by halftime.
Then, there was the technical side of the game. Babers often gets criticized for his in-game decisions, whether it’s fourth down decisions or wasted timeouts. In the first quarter alone Saturday, Babers won two challenges, one about offensive pass interference and the other about what down it was, which is certainly a new one.
Perhaps most importantly, Babers took his starters out at the right time. Unlike in week one against Colgate where Garrett Shrader campaigned his way back into the game to begin the third quarter, QB1 was on the sidelines when the second half began against Western Michigan.
That was absolutely the correct decision. There was no reason to risk Shrader’s health, especially given the context of the game, in which Syracuse had already seen Gadsden go down, plus right tackle David Wohlabaugh Jr.
It’s hard to point to any particular point in which Babers struggled. Were there still penalties? Yes, including some procedural ones (two false starts on Chris Bleich, his second straight game with a pair of false starts).
However, give credit where credit is due. Babers managed the game well, clearly had his team ready to play and protected his players when the game was out of hand.