Dino Babers talks defensive switch, offensive line, looks ahead to Louisville

first_img Published on November 18, 2019 at 5:33 pm Contact Eric: erblack@syr.edu | @esblack34 After defeating Duke to finally break out of a four-game slump and defeat a Power 5 opponent for the first time all season, there was a celebration in the Syracuse (4-6, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) locker room on Saturday. The following day’s team meeting was just as exuberant, Dino Babers said on Monday during his weekly press conference.“It was a good Sunday,” Babers said, smiling. “Was more positive than negative, but we still had growth that had to happen, so it was a good, positive meeting.”The fourth-year Syracuse head coach praised the play of his defense against the Blue Devils, as the Orange not only forced three turnovers in the third quarter alone but also prevented Duke from ever reaching the end zone. It was the first game for interim defensive coordinator Steve Stanard, who took over the position two weeks ago after Brian Ward was fired following the Boston College game.A big addition for Stanard during his first showing was the debut of defensive lineman McKinley Williams, who had missed the first nine games of the season due to a foot injury. Babers agreed that Williams’ return to the lineup was key to the defensive resurgence, but the senior’s performance “just OK,” at least compared to his play last season. “I think the biggest difference is that he allowed other guys to play fresh,” Babers said. “By having that one body there you can put the other three guys, Ruff and Black, on a rotation, where now they’re fresher.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnother significant change for the Orange was their shift at offensive line, where Airon Servais moved to left tackle and Carlos Vettorello started at center. The swap seemed to have worked, as Syracuse allowed just one sack, tied for a season-low, and ran for a season-high 286 yards and four touchdowns. Babers couldn’t stress enough about how important the center position is to an offense and compared the structure of a football team’s lineup to that of another sport. “Football is like baseball,” Babers said. “If you wanna have a good baseball team, you need to have a catcher, a pitcher, you better have a shortstop, a second baseman, and a really good center fielder. Then, the rest of your baseball team, you can fill out the edges.“It’s no different on a football team,” he continued. “You wanna have a tailback, you wanna have a quarterback, you wanna have a center. On defense you want a one technique (defensive tackle), you want a mike linebacker and you have a free safety. If you’ve got those six guys, then you can start filling in the other positions, you may have a good offense, you may have a good defense.”Babers made a point to talk about the size of Louisville’s offensive line, which includes 6-foot-7, 369-pound Mekhi Becton. The junior is one of the Cardinals’ top NFL prospects and while Babers didn’t quite remember his name, the Syracuse head coach explained he’ll know who Becton is once he sees him on the field because he’ll be “the biggest thing out there.” Behind Becton will be one of the better running back duos in the ACC in Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall, who have combined for 1,442 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Hawkins, who’s third in the conference in rushing yards, paces the Lousiville offense along with quarterback Micale Cunningham, who’s thrown for 14 touchdowns. As a team, the Cardinals are top-5 in the ACC in yards, touchdowns and yards per play, and Babers expects that stopping them will be a tall task on Saturday.“The offense that we’re about to play is a lot better than the offense we just played,” Babers said. “They got some cats. They can do some things. 4.3 (seconds in the 40-yard dash). 4.4. They’re lightning fast. If they get out in space, there’s gonna be trouble.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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