The Mayor of Dewitt
- Aug 15, 2011
By the end of a 38-24 loss to Duke, any chance at sending shallow breaths back into the promise of a season dissipated
Dino Babers, who all week kept the status of his star safety draped in a cloak of secrecy, delivered the prognosis for his starting quarterback immediately after the game in a quiet, direct manner: It’s not good.
“We’re all pulling for him," Babers said. "We wish him the best, but right now it’s not good.”
There is no use being cagey anymore. It’s there in plain sight. The quarterback is on crutches. The All-American safety is limping. Linemen are sporting shorts, leg braces and a scooter. There’s no more “we’ll see.” Andre Cisco and running back Jawhar Jordan: out indefinitely.
Sean Tucker, the freshman running back who burst onto the scene a couple weeks ago after starting the summer fourth or fifth on the depth chart did not finish the game. Neither did Geoff Cantin-Arku, the middle linebacker who scored on a fumble return to give the Orange its last lead of the game at 14-10 in the first minute of the second quarter.
How many more leads will there be?
An unbeaten Liberty team rolls into the Carrier Dome next week with an unthinkable outcome suddenly in play: This is no gimme.
There’s no such thing when 13 projected starters or key contributors are out or did not finish Saturday’s game healthy, 10 because of injury, two because of opt out, one because of NCAA transfer rules, plus eight more reserves out for the same reasons. In a year the NCAA relaxed eligibility rules, SU is fielding a team as though it is being held down by the organization’s draconian sanctions.
There’s still seven games on the schedule, but the thought of turning around an 1-3 start and avoiding a fourth losing season in five years would amount to the best coaching job in the ACC at this point.
“It’s going to be the next guy up and we have to do better as coaches," Babers said. “First responsibility is on my shoulders. That’s my team out there. Obviously, didn’t like what I saw. We have to get better on a lot of fronts if we want to have an opportunity to win again.”
Syracuse will likely move forward with quarterback Rex Culpepper, the easiest story to root for with this team. The glaring issues, the slow tempo, the shoddy run defense, the inconsistent rushing attack, they all flow downstream from the overarching health issues handicapping the Orange.
Maybe the weeks to come will yield some of those players back. Sean Tucker is expected to run again. Dakota Davis is expected to block again, helping solidify an offensive line hit especially hard by injuries.
But DeVito and Cisco, the faces of the SU offense and defense, respectively, are out indefinitely. There’s no promise we’ll see them again this year.