Babers mum about expectations as inaugural football season nears

At Friday's pre-season media event, SU's new coach and players tout up-tempo offense.

Syracuse Orange football coach Dino Babers doesn’t believe in ceilings. He doesn’t believe in walls either.

Entering his first year at the helm of the Orange and with practice set to begin Saturday morning, Babers said he isn’t setting expectations for his team’s record this season.

“I don’t put a ceiling on how high this football team can go and I don’t put walls up to where we can expand to,” Babers said Friday at the team's media day. “Too many times I’ve seen that ceiling hold teams down and those walls confine. No ceilings, no walls, let’s just go in and put our time in and see what happens.”

"Right now, this is my favorite [offense] I’ve played in. It’s just fast and it’s fun.”
- QB Eric Dungey

Babers said that he expects the current depth chart, which was released following spring practices, to change by SU’s first game against Colgate on Sept. 2 as he has not had a proper amount of time to evaluate his team.

“That depth chart can be flipped upside down,” Babers said. “We really don’t know and it’s not fair to those young men to close their dreams off, to put a ceiling and put walls around it.

"Who knows what they can achieve?”

SU football media day 2016

Quarterback Eric Dungey talks with reporters Friday during SU's football media day at Manley Field House (Photo: Eric Derachio Jackson Jr)

The new head coach said he is excited to start working with his team full-time and begin fully implementing his up-tempo offensive style. While at Bowling Green last season, Babers’ team ranked fourth nationally in total offense (546.8 yards per game) and fifth in passing yards with 366.8 per contest. Bowling Green finished with a 10-3 record and a MAC Conference Championship.

Meanwhile, SU finished 2015 with a 4-8 record, 2-6 in the ACC. The Orange averaged 319.9 yards per game which ranked 118th nationally and second to last in the ACC.

“We know how to put this system in,” Babers said about installing the new offense. “We’re kind of like, ‘you’re about to do this right now and you’re going to do it at this tempo.’ And, if you give us what we ask for, you have a great opportunity to be successful.”

Charged with implementing that offense will be sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey appeared in eight games for the Orange last season, starting seven, while throwing for 1,298 yards and scoring 16 total touchdowns before suffering a season-ending injury against Louisville in November.

Dungey starts preseason practice at the top of the depth chart and said that so far he has enjoyed learning Babers’ offense.

“Every day is just awesome. Learning new things, it’s fun, it’s exciting,” Dungey said. “Right now, this is my favorite [offense] I’ve played in. It’s just fast and it’s fun.”

SU football media day 2016

Coach Dino Babers as he appears on the cover of the 2016 Syracuse football program. (Photo: Austin Henry Wallace)

Also benefiting from Babers’ up-tempo offense will be sophomore running back Jordan Fredericks. As a freshman, Fredericks led SU with 607 rushing yards and scored five total touchdowns. At media day, he said he’s looking to build off of last season’s success.

“I just hope to do the same thing,” Fredericks said. “I’m here for the fans, the team. Try to be successful and hopefully finish out the big runs that I’ve started.”

While Babers isn’t setting expectations for his team’s record this season, he’s preaching patience as he's confident that his system will be successful given time.

“The community has been fantastic, everywhere I’ve been they’ve been super excited.” Babers said. “Hopefully they get their tickets at a discount. They better get them this year because the prices are going to go up.”

Videos by EJay Zarett.

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