Syracuse’s quarterback competition continues to dominate the attention as the offense continues to struggle

Sports

Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) during a game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — So you wanna be the quarterback of the Syracuse Orange? Are you sure? It isn’t always the glamorous position it’s made out to be in the movies. 

Right now, the fanbase, along with the team, is torn between Tommy DeVito and Garrett Shrader. The former has had more reps this season and is the more known commodity on the hill. The latter is new and enticing with his Eric Dungey-esque reputation. 

Depending on who you ask around town, they have an opinion on who should be the starter. As for Dino Babers, he told the media Monday we’re still going to see both no matter who gets the opening snaps Saturday vs. Albany. 

“(Quarterbacks) get too much of the credit and they get too much of the blame. But I definitely think we still want to see both of those guys. We’re looking to score points. Points are the thing we need to get done. Until we’re totally 100% sure on who it is, we need to keep letting them compete,” Babers said. 

“Win the crowd, win your freedom” 

Speaking of movies, we know Dino loves the silver screen. His tendency to quote them while being interviewed is legendary. 

The quote in bold italics above is the one he dropped from Gladiator during his Monday presser. And what he is saying, besides that Gladiator is a modern classic, is that he wants either Tommy or Garrett to take hold of the number one spot. 

“I want someone to win it on the field. (QBs) don’t get hit (in practice), they don’t get touched. So, you’ve got to put them on the field, you have to let them do it on the field and they have to win it on the field,” Babers said. 

“Take the community, take the team, win it on the field (and) remove all doubt. Don’t leave the decision to me, because eventually I will make the decision. So, they need to get it done soon,” Dino added. 

Miscues 

But it leads to another question… is this quarterback battle harming the offense? That’s a good question. (Thanks, me) Seven points in their home opener is not a good way to win back #OrangeNation. 

It is especially hard to swallow when the SU defense continued to shine, holding Rutgers to just 195 yards of offense and 17 points. Syracuse needs to win games when they have that kind of defensive effort. 

The offense is holding this team back and the team is not shying away from that fact. 

“It bothers me that we can play that well on defense and we cannot help them. It frustrates me,” Babers said. 

There is no sugar coating the offensive woes. They have been bad for a couple of seasons now. However, there are some things the defense is looking to do to help ease the pressure, and it is something this team was exceptionally good at last season – turning over the other team. 

Syracuse was one of the best teams in the country last fall at forcing turnovers and getting points off said turnovers. The defense wants to get back to that. 

“You can never cause enough turnovers. So, I feel like that is the big emphasis right now,” SU cornerback Garrett Williams told the media Tuesday. 

After losing the turnover battle last Saturday against the Scarlet Knights, SU has recalibrated a bit on the practice field.  

“We’ve installed a turnover circuit before practice to have us thinking about taking the ball away. Our first instinct is to just tackle the ball carrier. But to help us win games, we have to win the turnover battle,” said Josh Black, senior defensive tackle. 

Back to the QB battle 

I appreciate the defense being sympathetic to the short comings of the offense and want to take things into their own hands, but this situation is only going to be fixed by the offense finding its way. That starts with the Orange figuring out who their quarterback is. 

Dino this week harkened back to his time at Eastern Illinois. Babers took over a fledgling team and turned things around. He mentioned one of the biggest reasons why was his quarterback… Jimmy Garoppolo, ever heard of him? Just in case you haven’t, he’s now the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. And while I get what Dino was saying is this story – figure out the QB-problem and things become easier – the biggest gap in logic is thinking there is a Garoppolo on this roster. 

Unless someone in that quarterback room seriously progresses, it is hard to believe there is a pro quarterback coming from the 2021 Syracuse Orange. Nothing any of the quarterbacks have put on tape suggests there is someone with that kind of potential. 

I went on record Saturday saying I believe DeVito is the guy I would roll with this season. He’s decision making has improved since last season and the offense has been more effective than when Shrader has taken the field in his limited role. 

DeVito believes this as well, “I’ve done exactly what I’ve needed to do on this field.” 

The question is, does Dino agree? We may get our answer soon. 

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