Next up on Pitt’s ACC schedule are the Syracuse Orange.
Dino Babers leads the Orange for his seventh consecutive year. In the previous six years, he is 29 – 43 (15-35 conference, 13-8 OOC, 1-0 bowls). He had one shining moment, the truly unexpected 2018 10-3 season.
Syracuse’s 2021 results and the 2022 schedule.
After a bye, Cuse plays NC State, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Pitt. Will this stretch of games be the last nail in Babers career at Syracuse?
Here are the Rivals 5.6 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions.
I think we are all aware of the recruiting difficulties Syracuse faces. I expected a recruiting bump after the 2018 season. I was naïve in believing the bump occurred immediately. It does not. The bump occurs in the second recruiting class. In Syracuse’s case, it should have occurred for the 2020 class. Pitt’s bump should occur with the 2024 class. But that is if the team does not revert to past means. Syracuse did by following up their breakout year with a 5-7 season. If Pitt wins seven or less in 2022, they will not have that bump.
Eight TP entries. Three on defense. All DB’s. Five offense players. One RB. Two WR’s and Two QB’s. Except for the Rutgers’s CB transfer, all TP entries have two or more years of eligibility.
Syracuse has lost 17 players to the TP. That includes one player who entered the TP on 6/16/2022. Last day for 2022 eligibility was 5/1.
On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the 2021 All ACC teams. I have added a new stat – Athlon’s 2022 preseason All ACC Conference’s (four teams). I do not have Phil Steele’s All ACC selections. But a Cuse site named the nine players selected.
The offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart.
What can I say about the Orange QB play? The passing game needs improvement. If you cannot get a QB by recruiting, you turn to the TP. Both TP QB’s have eligibility through the 2025 season. One of them will be the backup this year.
I am sad that I will no longer be able to refer to Tommy DeVito as being Danny DeVito’s grandson. He was a gamer. Took a beating but always came back for more.
The Orange running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Louisville, UNC, and Syracuse.
Cuse has claimed the highest returning production of any reviewed ACC Pitt opponents.
The running game was Syracuse’s offense. The rushing attack was led by a nationally unappreciated Sean Tucker and QB Garrett Schrader.
Syracuse did have a passing game but I believe it was an afterthought.
No matter what, they are returning their top producers.
What does the Oline stats tell us? I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.
In the UNC review, I described the Tar Heel Oline as being “just horrendous” in allowing 10.5% of all offensive plays resulting in lost yardage. The Orange Oline is slightly less horrendous with only 9.6% of plays result in loss yardage.
The good news is that the Cuse only lost one starter to eligibility. They also have six players returning with at least five starts. They will have experience. Injuries during the season may be a problem as actual game experience beyond the starters is limited.
On to the defensive review.
Syracuse had 40 players make a defensive stat. But ten of them were offense players. One was special teams player. That leaves 29 defensive players making a stat.
The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and eleven players who did not make at least six or more tackles.
The below chart includes 23 players- ten DB’s, nine DL’s and four LB’s making up (and I mean made up) a “10 tackles two deep.” I did lower my goal of ten tackles to six to make a “two deep.”
Defense is the heart and soul of the Syracuse team.
The total overall returning production is normal but the DL is decimated. Five of the top six tacklers are gone. Depth is such a problem that Jeff Hough (2021 RB recruit from Beaver Falls) is supposedly making the switch to the defensive line.
Plenty of solid players returning on the other units. Williams and Chestnut have pro potential as does Jones, Thompson, and Wax in the LB unit.
Babers is an offensive minded coach but Syracuse struggles in his specialty. But he is able to recruit lower ranked defensive players and coach them up. Kudos to him and his defensive staff.
To help put all of the defensive data into perspective, here are the Syracuse 2021 NCAA defensive stats.
Syracuse did not have a bad defense. I gave them a C+ but they were only one point away from a B –. I really need to spend some time refining my down and dirty formula.
At the beginning of this article, I questioned if the rough stretch of late season games would seal Babers fate. Last season, he had three cracks at winning one game to be bowl eligible. Even with a bye preceding that final stretch, Cuse lost all three. Babers may have another year if his team is bowl eligible. Pitt will not be one of those teams leading to bowl eligibility.
I am now at 8-1 in predicting games based on these reviews. The Vegas line is 8.5 wins. Besides celebrating my birthday, I will be laying some money on the over when I am at my favorite local casino for 3 days/nights starting 7/31.