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Chattin’ it up

Know your enemy

Football beat writers discuss three questions surrounding Syracuse heading into the Orange’s first game. See page 13

Syracuse football is set to open its season on Friday night against Colgate. Here’s everything to know about the Raiders. See page 15

S PORTS

These are the days In preparation of the start of the season, check out our comprehensive guide on all things SU football. See Thursday’s paper

dailyorange.com @dailyorange aug. 31, 2016 • PAG E 16

football

SU D-Line has a lot to prove By Matt Schneidman senior staff writer

Babers Offense Series PART 3 of 4

PROS AND CONS

How playing in the Baylor-style offense affects quarterbacks’ transition to NFL Text by Paul Schwedelson sports editor

Photo Illustration by Jessica Sheldon photo editor

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yracuse has used six different quarterbacks over the past two seasons. The Orange ranked 13th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense last year. Its offensive play-calling has come under scrutiny. Enter Dino Babers, who has repeatedly beamed about the offensive scheme he’s bringing to SU. And the team he’s leading, especially his quarterback, can be molded. Starter Eric Dungey still has three years of eligibility remaining. Babers has said there’s no doubt that over time, the system will work. That means Dungey could join a select group by the time his Syracuse career is over. Kevin Kolb, Robert Griffin III, Jimmy Garoppolo and Bryce Petty all spent multiple seasons in the Baylor-style offense and put up video game-like numbers. Griffin won the Heisman Trophy. But they’ve also all had up-and-down stints in the NFL. Griffin, Garoppolo and Petty still have chances to improve and match their college success. “Scouts like to see them in a pro-style system because you see them run what they’re going to run in the NFL,” said Mark Dulgerian, an NFL Network researcher and scout for Optimum Scouting. “I don’t

want to say they can’t be successful, they just haven’t practiced making some of the reads and some of the throws that they’re going to need in the NFL. “It’s just a lot more difficult.”

Stacking up

Here’s the completion percentage put up in the NFL by each starting quarterback playing for college head coaches Art Briles and Dino Babers over the years.

Jimmy Garoppolo, 64.5% Robert Griffin III, 63.9% Kevin Klob, 59.5% Case Keenum, 56.7% Dungey has the chance to be the next in line. And if he enters the NFL, the same question that follows his predecessors will almost undoubtedly follow him. Can he handle the complexity of NFL offenses? The style that Babers learned while coaching under Art Briles at Baylor from

2008-11 has a stigma of being “simple.” That’s because it is — or at least it’s simpler than some “pro-style” schemes. Fewer quarterback responsibilities have led to quicker decisions and faster passes. The movements become instinctual and allow teams to pick defenses apart. The scheme was created by Briles in 1990 at Stephenville (Texas) High School, and one of Briles’ core principles was to keep it as easy as possible to learn. Unlike many NFL schemes, there aren’t traditional three-, five- and seven-step drops and a significant amount of the reads are done on option plays. Most of the time, the quarterback lines up in shotgun while standard NFL systems feature the quarterback under center. Briles was recently fired at Baylor after allegedly covering up several players sexually assaulting students. According to a review by Philadelphiabased law firm Pepper Hamilton that presented findings of fact to Baylor’s board of regents, “football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules.” The offense that Babers is using at Syracuse is friendly to quarterbacks. Almost too friendly. When quarterbacks who saw immense success playing collegiately in the scheme transition to the NFL, see pros page 14

First Ron Thompson left for the NFL Draft with a year of eligibility remaining. Then graduate transfer Gabe Sherrod backed out of his Syracuse pledge to join Michigan State. And when Jake Pickard dressed in sweats for a recent practice, it couldn’t seem to get any worse for the Orange’s defensive line. Pickard, who was listed as a first-teamer on the post-spring depth chart, is now a backup wearing a brace on his left knee. The only freshman starter, Kendall Coleman, jumped him on the depth chart and 296-pound Chris Slayton shifted from defensive tackle to the outside to help Syracuse at arguably its most depleted unit. “If you’ve got a son or a friend who’s playing defensive end, get excited,” first-year SU head coach Dino Babers said. “Buy some tickets because they’re going to be in the game.”

0

Syracuse has zero players who played snaps at defensive end in 2015

For a team that ranked 12th out of 14 teams in the conference in rushing yards allowed per game, and last in average opponent yards per rush, losing three starters on the defensive line — Thompson, Donnie Simmons Jr. and John Raymon — certainly didn’t help. Instead, Syracuse will rely on an 18-year-old who’s never played a collegiate snap, a converted defensive end who put on eight pounds as he was supposed to anchor the interior with fellow defensive tackle Kayton Samuels this season and a host of others to plug the gaps in SU’s first line of defense. On paper, there’s not much to believe in. But the defensive line is out to provide exactly that. For starters, an ESPN article is pinned on the wall inside Syracuse’s locker room, Pickard told Syracuse.com. It ranks each of the Atlantic Coast Conference front sevens. The Orange is dead last. It’s no surprise given the turnover and youth, two elements that leave more unknowns to be proven than sure bets. On one end, that’s see defensive

line page 15

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