Phil Steele

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#1
Has some nice things to say about SU but has them last in the Atlantic and 82 in his Power Poll. However, as I said, his narrative is positive as he recognizes the fact that SU competed last year with several close loses against good/great teams.

Guy knows his stuff but I think he is working under the assumption that Dungey is going to get hurt again. Regardless, as I think most of us know, this is the year where Dino needs to show progress, and likely will.

Looking at his first team all ACC makes you realize how ridiculously stacked Clemson is.
 

SU68

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#2
His assumption that Dungey is going to get hurt again is a valid one based on the track record. We all hope that he remains healthy which may lead to a actual winning season. :)
 
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elimunelson

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#3
His assumption that Dungey is going to get hurt again is a valid one based on the track record. We all that he remains healthy which may lead to a actual winning season. :)
what's the definition of insanity? I mean you have to assume he will because his injuries are directly correlated to how he plays the game. He's reckless and his body can't take the hits. I love it about him but I'll be shocked if he's upright in December.
 
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#4
Did his mag come out today, and is his reasoning based solely on Dungey not being healthy? He must be using more criteria.

This guy is an excellent predictor of upcoming seasons. Really disheartening to say the least
 

rrlbees

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#5
what's the definition of insanity? I mean you have to assume he will because his injuries are directly correlated to how he plays the game. He's reckless and his body can't take the hits. I love it about him but I'll be shocked if he's upright in December.
huh??? the illegal hit wasn't due to being reckless and neither was the freak foot injury.
 
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Did his mag come out today, and is his reasoning based solely on Dungey not being healthy? He must be using more criteria.

This guy is an excellent predictor of upcoming seasons. Really disheartening to say the least
Son got the mag earlier this week. Not really sure why he has SU last. His 2018 outlook ends, "...this could be their breakthrough year. Despite all those factors pointing to a much better year, it was not enough for me to put them on My Most Improved List."

My guess is he likes SU, just likes the other teams in the Atlantic better.

He has seven ACC teams in his top 40 - Clemson 2, Miami 7, FL St 18, BC 23, NC 36, Duke 37, and VT 40.

I'm still not sold on Miami. NC is a shock given their 2017 season but they were absolutely destroyed by injuries. Plus, by rule, their athletes don't need to take classes. Frees up a lot of time for football.
 

anomander

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what's the definition of insanity? I mean you have to assume he will because his injuries are directly correlated to how he plays the game. He's reckless and his body can't take the hits. I love it about him but I'll be shocked if he's upright in December.
I used to think that Dungey needed to be smarter and the coaches need to protect him more, but i've come to realize that is what makes ED who he is. I don't think he would be the player he is if you tried to take his legs away. He isn't accurate enough where you can rely on him to pick teams apart with sustained drives throughout an entire game. You have to let Eric play free and loose. There were games (FSU/Miami) where the only reason we had a chance was because of miraculous play by ED. I like the fact that he has bulked up even more to try and help him sustain throughout an entire season. I would like to see less called run plays. I think they overused him at times last year. An improved run game will make a world of difference.

I do have a feeling that once Eric graduates we will see a totally different offense. I think if Dino had a choice he would prefer a high % short passing game. Unfortunately, that's not exactly ED's strength. For what our team was and probably will be again this year ED is a good fit, but going forward more of a pure passer like Devito could excel in this offense. This will be a good bridge year with ED, allowing Dino to get in the WR's that will compliment Devito's strength.
 
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#11
Son got the mag earlier this week. Not really sure why he has SU last. His 2018 outlook ends, "...this could be their breakthrough year. Despite all those factors pointing to a much better year, it was not enough for me to put them on My Most Improved List."

My guess is he likes SU, just likes the other teams in the Atlantic better.

He has seven ACC teams in his top 40 - Clemson 2, Miami 7, FL St 18, BC 23, NC 36, Duke 37, and VT 40.

I'm still not sold on Miami. NC is a shock given their 2017 season but they were absolutely destroyed by injuries. Plus, by rule, their athletes don't need to take classes. Frees up a lot of time for football.
Sounds like double talk: a breakthrough year yet last in the Atlantic ...

My head is spinning
 
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#12
STATE OF THE PROGRAMS: ACC (Indepth of every FB team)
State of the Program: Patience still necessary for Syracuse football
State of the Program: Patience still necessary for Syracuse...

Despite having been raised in San Diego and attending college in Honolulu, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers never learned to surf. And that’s not the half of it. “There’s a very good reason why I never learned to surf,” says the Orange’s third-year coach. “It’s because I never learned to swim.”

It can be assumed that no one was more disappointed by Babers’ negligence in natation than his father, Luther Babers, who served 21 years in the United States Navy.

An uncharitable scribe might attempt to polish this historical gem into an apt metaphor for the current state of Syracuse football (e.g. “It’s been back-to-back 4-8 seasons at Syracuse, and Babers and the Orange can no longer afford to tread water”). Not us, though. That type of cynicism will not float here.

Why not? Because Babers is a charismatic coach and a natural-born leader. There are countless examples of this, including when he spoke to his team after its 31-17 upset of Virginia Tech during his first season with the Orange. “People don’t know what we went through,” he told them. “They don’t know about the Kum Ba Yah meetings we had this week. They have no idea! They don’t! We … are … together! We play as one, we win as one! Off the field, on the field, picnics to the classroom, we’re together!”

And it got better from there.

Babers’ track record (a 26-5 conference record at those two prior stops) suggests that the Orange, who finished at the bottom of the ACC Atlantic Division last season, will again break the surface. Certainly, ’Cuse fans must be confounded by a 2017 season in which the Orange shocked No. 2 Clemson at the Carrier Dome in October, only to lose their final five games.

Still, this is not a program in need of rescue, only a little patience.

Biggest on-field question
In its final three games of 2017, Syracuse surrendered an average of 54 points per contest. The Orange gave up 64 points at home to Wake Forest, 56 at Louisville and 42 at home to Boston College, blowouts in which they never came nearer than three touchdowns. When The Athletic suggested to Babers that his defense appeared to be waving the white flag in the season finale, he replied, “I wouldn’t fight you on that observation.”

And sure, the Orange were without starting quarterback Eric Dungey for those three routs, but Dungey does not play defense. Hence the question beckons, particularly in light of the fact that the Orange’s three starting linebackers — including the defense’s two leading tacklers, Parris Bennett and Zaire Franklin, both of whom are in NFL training camps — have moved on: Can this defense stop anyone?

Syracuse finished 98th in scoring defense and 113th in yards per play allowed in 2017, anemic numbers that were exacerbated by the late-season collapse. Up front, the Orange are stout with end Alton Robinson and tackle Chris Slayton, the latter of whom is the unit’s standout. Babers is succinct in explaining why he is so fond of 6-foot-4, 320-pound Slayton, the school’s active leader in sacks, tackles for loss, fumbles forced and starts. “Because he’s a man,” Babers says. “He’s just a full-grown, throwback, old-fashioned defensive lineman who creates havoc.”

Slayton is a man surrounded by, if not boys, a bevy of inexperienced teammates. Asked to volunteer a name or two among underclassmen who might make a name for themselves on defense in 2018, Babers says, “IDK (I don’t know). IDK, you know. I’m as anxious to find out as anyone. Our underbelly is young.”

Defense is the paramount question in upstate New York, but another valid query is what will it take for the national pundits to discover Dungey? The three-year starter out of Lake Oswego, Ore., led the Orange in passing and rushing in 2017, the latter of which is more impressive when one remembers he missed 25 percent of the season. But you won’t see 6-foot-4 Dungey’s name on any early 2019 NFL mock drafts.

“I’ve gotten used to playing with a chip on my shoulder,” says Dungey, who also played with a broken bone in his foot in Syracuse’s three-point loss at Florida State last November. “But I know I’ve had three straight years where I’ve been unable to finish the season. I’m at the point now where I just want to be able to play the entire season out.”

The record says 4-8, and there’s no avoiding that, but with Dungey starting, Syracuse lost by narrow margins on the road at LSU, N.C. State, Miami and Florida State last season. With another offseason of maturity and a far more manageable road schedule, Dungey and his teammates will do better in 2018.

Babers calls Dungey “a fantastic leader and a better athlete than people think; he could be a starter at a few positions for us.” That’s an homage to Dungey’s athleticism, of course, but also a commentary on the depth of talent inhabiting the Syracuse roster. The three losses at the end of last season haunt this team, but they also illustrate how much the Orange missed Dungey’s on-the-field presence and leadership. With Dungey healthy, they can take a big step forward while he at last garners some of the attention that his career has been lacking.

Depth chart analysis
Quarterback: Eric Dungey enters his fourth season as a starter, but he is still in search of his first as a finisher. The dual-threat signal-caller has missed the final three games in each of his first three seasons because of injury. Leading a fast-paced, pass-happy Syracuse offense that led the nation in plays per game (85.6) and the ACC in pass attempts per game (45.7), Dungey finished second in the ACC in passing yards per game last year but 10th in passer rating, completing 59.7 percent for 2,495 yards and 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions in nine games.

Redshirt sophomore Rex Culpepper, who started the 2017 season finale against Boston College and played well (24-for-34, 280 yards and two TDs), was diagnosed with testicular cancer in March. The Tampa native played in the Orange’s spring scrimmage, completing a 17-yard touchdown pass on the final play, while in the midst of 10 weeks of chemotherapy. Culpepper received his final treatment on June 1, and his father announced his son was cancer-free.

While Culpepper’s status for August camp remains unknown, redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito, a former four-star recruit, will be Dungey’s understudy.

Running backs: Though he missed 25 percent of the 2017 season, Dungey was the team’s leading rusher with 595 yards. At running back, senior Dontae Strickland (128 attempts) and junior Moe Neal (92) split the carries and gained 482 and 488 yards, respectively. The pair should share the load again. Syracuse, the alma mater of Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Larry Csonka and Floyd Little, last had a 1,000-yard rusher in 2012.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Pairing a highly experienced passer — Dungey has 25 starts — with a neophyte corps of wideouts: Such are the vicissitudes of the game. The Orange lost their two most prolific receivers in Steve Ishmael (219 career catches) and Ervin Phillips (224). How do they restock the cupboard?

Devin Butler (6-3) and Jamal Custis (6-5) have outstanding size and will get the nods out wide. Redshirt freshman Sharod Johnson is the third man in the outside rotation. Antwan Cordy played safety and slot receiver in the spring, but it looks as if he’ll be moving back to defense. Sophomore Nykeim Johnson is 5-8 but has breakaway speed. He’s the only receiver who took reps inside and outside in the spring. Sean Riley looks promising as the other slot receiver. Senior Ravian Pierce, who caught 29 passes last fall, has a death grip on the tight end position.

Offensive line: For the first time in 30 years, the Orange will return five O-linemen starters. And yet the entire unit has a “Who’s on first?” aspect to it. Only senior left tackle Cody Conway, who has 20 consecutive starts at the position, is entrenched.

After that? Redshirt sophomore Airon Servais started all 12 games at center in 2017 but played right tackle in the spring. That was before Texas A&M left tackle Koda Martin, who is Babers’ son-in-law, announced that he was seeking a graduate transfer. Look for massive Martin (6-6, 310), who has a year of starts in the rugged SEC West to his credit, to play right tackle.

The interior will be a mix of Servais, likely returning to his snapping position, plus guards Sam Heckel (12 starts), Evan Adams (21 starts) and Aaron Roberts (12 starts in 2016 before missing 2017 because of injury). Mike Clark, a 6-8, 304-pound redshirt sophomore, adds depth.

Defensive line: The designated stud is end Alton Robinson, who led the Orange in sacks (five) and was the most prolific tackler on the D-line. Junior Kendall Coleman, who in 2016 became the first true freshman in 20 years to start the season opener at defensive end for the Orange, missed spring practice but will start opposite Robinson.

In the interior, McKinley Williams has the nose tackle spot to himself now that Kayton Samuels has transferred. Redshirt senior Chris Slayton has NFL girth (6-4, 320) and with 8.5 tackles for loss in 2017, Sunday potential. His 29 career starts are tops on this roster.

Linebackers: All three starters, most notably three-year captain Zaire Franklin, are gone. Four of the Orange’s top seven tacklers last season were linebackers; all of them are in NFL camps.

Who will replace them? Seniors Ryan Guthrie and Kielan Whitner have one start between them (vs. Central Connecticut State) and will man the Mike and Sam positions, respectively. Junior Andrew Armstrong will make his first start at the Will spot. Behind this trio are younger and even less-experienced players, but you can bet Babers is hoping an underclassman emerges during fall camp. The most likely candidates are redshirt freshman Tyrell Richards (6-4, 224) and junior college transfer Lakiem Williams.

Defensive backs: The unit has a lack of depth after four scholarship players, most notably two-year starter Rodney Williams, opted to transfer. There’s plenty of top-line experience, though. Combined, corners Scoop Bradshaw and Christopher Fredrick started 23 of a possible 24 games last season (Bradshaw sat out the Miami game with an injury), and strong safety Evan Foster landed every start. Antwan Cordy has 16 starts at safety, but he is being pushed by early enrollee Andre Cisco at free safety. Cordy’s primary role might be at nickel.

Of the reserves, 6-3 redshirt freshman Ifeatu Melifonwu has the size, talent and DNA (his brother Obi plays for the Oakland Raiders) to see the field plenty at corner.

Special teams: Sterling Hofrichter, who saw only nine of his 57 punts get returned in 2017, will add kicking to his duties. Hofrichter’s housemate, Sean Keller, will be his long snapper. Nolan Cooney will kick off, and Sean Riley returns as the kickoff and punt returner.

How the Orange have recruited from 2015-2018
According to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, here is how Syracuse recruiting classes have fared nationally and within the ACC over the last four years:

The Orange have signed just three four-star recruits in the past five recruiting cycles, per 247Sports. One of them, wide receiver, K.J. Williams (2014), failed to qualify. Another, quarterback Tommy DeVito (2017), will be backing up Dungey and possibly Culpepper this autumn. The third, athlete Atrilleon Williams out of White Plains, N.Y., arrives this summer.

More than one-third of Syracuse’s roster is composed of freshmen or redshirt freshmen, players who have yet to play a collegiate snap. That’s not uncommon for a third-year coach intent on flushing the system, but the key contributors this fall almost all appear to be upperclassmen. Only three of Baber’s recruits are likely to crack the starting lineup, and two are defensive backs, a unit where depth was decimated by four offseason defections.

While the program’s recruiting rankings have trended upward in Babers’ two full offseasons, this is a program that should be able to sell immediate playing time to four-star recruits who want to play Power 5 football. Babers and recruiting coordinator Asil Mulbah, a former linebacker at Fordham, need to lure another four-star or three to campus. Landing a four-star from an established program like New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep (DeVito), was a bonanza. However, signing a four-star or two who are able to take the field before their third autumn on campus is essential for job security.

Impact of coaching changes
Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sean Lewis left to become Kent State’s head coach, and Babers hired as his new QBs coach inveterate Houston-area high school coach Kirk Martin, whose daughter-in-law is Babers’ own daughter, Jazzmin. Her husband, Kirk’s son, Koda, is the recent grad transfer from Texas A&M who, as noted above, is likely to start at right tackle.

Martin, whose appointment was facilitated by the NCAA’s new 10th coach rule, had a .812 winning percentage in 10 seasons at Houston-area Manvel High School. His transition from prep ranks to Power 5 will be made smoother by the fact that his top pupil, Dungey, is an accomplished three-year starter.

The other new face in the meeting room belongs to grizzled offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh. In 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has coached at more than a half-dozen schools, including FBS programs Hawaii, Oregon State and, most recently, Nebraska. Cavanaugh slid into the vacancy created by the promotion of Mike Lynch, now the running backs coach and offensive coordinator. Make no mistake, though, Syracuse’s playbook has Babers’ fingerprints all over it.

Schedule analysis
The Orange have played at least one top-three opponent in each of the past six years (1-6) and likely will again in 2018 when they visit Clemson in late September. Syracuse will host Florida State in the Seminoles’ first road jaunt of the Willie Taggart era; old-timers recall how the Orange spanked No. 5 Florida at the Carrier Dome in mid-September back in ’91.

The nonconference games are all winnable, and a November trek to Yankee Stadium to face Notre Dame might tempt undergrads to begin Thanksgiving holiday one weekend early. Ultimately, a trifecta of midseason matchups vs. Tar Heel State schools — North Carolina, N.C. State, at Wake Forest — will determine if ’Cuse goes bowling for the first time since 2013.

Final assessment
Syracuse hasn’t appeared in the AP Top 25 at any point since 2001, the second-longest drought among Power 5 teams. After two 4-8 seasons, Babers needs to put the Orange at .500 or above in his third year in upstate New York. The offense is experienced and the quarterback is productive — Dungey finished sixth in total offense in 2017, just 9 yards per game below Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield — but the defense was porous and must replace its three leading tacklers. A December bowl is possible if Dungey stays upright for all 12 games.
 
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#14
Wow-When The Athletic suggested to Babers that his defense appeared to be waving the white flag in the season finale, he replied, “I wouldn’t fight you on that observation.”
 

bevosu

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#15
The lack of depth and the lack of Dungey had an effect on the defense late last year. I watched Zaire and Bennett closely in those last few games. Bennett in particular played some great first halves. They were dinged up and their performances consistently fell off in the second half. It was very noticeable. Especially Bennett. The D line probably felt it as well.

The defense got beat down. This year..who knows?
 

TheCusian

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#16
what's the definition of insanity? I mean you have to assume he will because his injuries are directly correlated to how he plays the game. He's reckless and his body can't take the hits. I love it about him but I'll be shocked if he's upright in December.
I’m not sure this is true. It’s the media’s explanation...

Year 1: gets knocked out for season vs CMU on the cheapest hit of all time, rolling out - not on him at all

Year 2: this one is 100% what you describe. Takes it up the middle vs Clemson and gets walloped

Last year: foot injury, not a direct contact injury
 

SmilinBob

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#17
I fully expect at least 2 of the RB's to have 750 yards (5.5+ per attempt) each and Dungey to have around 300 to 400 tops.
 

elimunelson

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#18
I’m not sure this is true. It’s the media’s explanation...

Year 1: gets knocked out for season vs CMU on the cheapest hit of all time, rolling out - not on him at all

Year 2: this one is 100% what you describe. Takes it up the middle vs Clemson and gets walloped

Last year: foot injury, not a direct contact injury
You guys are great. He tried to karate kick a defensive player in the open field. He's reckless and it leads to injuries. He's certainly not built for the hits which makes it worse. I'm not trying to be glib it's just a fact. He's unlikely to stay healthy. I'm not going to go through each hit and determine fluke or reckless. My entire point is he puts himself into position to take direct hits. I watched Doug Flutie back in the day and he was elusive and missed major hits. The guy was 5'8. Same with McNabb, they made others miss. Dungey runs like a FB. Rob Konrad is a better comp for Dungey w the way he takes on hits.

I'm rooting for a Heisman season but his elusiveness has to improve if he wants to remain on the field.
 

SmilinBob

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#19
I’m not sure this is true. It’s the media’s explanation...

Year 1: gets knocked out for season vs CMU on the cheapest hit of all time, rolling out - not on him at all

Year 2: this one is 100% what you describe. Takes it up the middle vs Clemson and gets walloped

Last year: foot injury, not a direct contact injury
Add... should have been not playing in a game vs Louisville that was out of hand and late in that said game.
 

elimunelson

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#20
I used to think that Dungey needed to be smarter and the coaches need to protect him more, but i've come to realize that is what makes ED who he is. I don't think he would be the player he is if you tried to take his legs away. He isn't accurate enough where you can rely on him to pick teams apart with sustained drives throughout an entire game. You have to let Eric play free and loose. There were games (FSU/Miami) where the only reason we had a chance was because of miraculous play by ED. I like the fact that he has bulked up even more to try and help him sustain throughout an entire season. I would like to see less called run plays. I think they overused him at times last year. An improved run game will make a world of difference.

I do have a feeling that once Eric graduates we will see a totally different offense. I think if Dino had a choice he would prefer a high % short passing game. Unfortunately, that's not exactly ED's strength. For what our team was and probably will be again this year ED is a good fit, but going forward more of a pure passer like Devito could excel in this offense. This will be a good bridge year with ED, allowing Dino to get in the WR's that will compliment Devito's strength.
Be very clear, i'm not advocating that Eric change how he quarterbacks. He is what he is and has CARRIED us to victories in his career. My entire point is i'll be shocked if he's quarterbacking us into the holiday season. It will mean he withstood some serious hits b/c of how he runs it.
 

TheCusian

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#21
Wow-When The Athletic suggested to Babers that his defense appeared to be waving the white flag in the season finale, he replied, “I wouldn’t fight you on that observation.”
When we lost Martin, our secondary took a major step backwards. But losing Dungey ripped the teams heart out - compounded by extra possessions = horrid defense.
 

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