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SU Football in First Week of Training Camp with High Hopes and Plenty of Questions

Syracuse University football is in its first week of summer training camp and expectations are high. The Orange is trying to improve on a 4-8 season from a year ago, which was Coach Dino Babers’ first at SU.  Despite the losing record, the team’s offense was able to pile up yards.  The passing attack amassed 321 yards per game, ranking 11th nationally. 

Quarterback Eric Dungey was injured and didn’t play all the games last season.  He says he has a new outlook for this season and is excited for the season to start.

(WAER Sports coverage resumes Aug. 21st during Morning Edition and All Things Considered, leading up to the first football game broadcast Sept 1st.)

“My mind is a lot different going into this year. I have a chip on my shoulder. I just want to go out there and win some games. I’m not saying no more Mr. Nice Guy but it’s just time to put your head down and get to work.”

Dungey says his goal during offseason was to up his weight and continue to learn the offense. As for team effort, Dungey says the offense needs to come together if they want a winning season. The group has to replace star receiver Amba Etta Tawo

Head Coach Dino Babers, shown here at the first practice of the season, is back for his second year

Coach Babers believes Dungey and the offense have made progress but the defense still needs work. Babers says the team needs to avoid penalties and more importantly, stay healthy.

“I thought one of the biggest issues last year was that we didn’t get the chance to play with a group of people for a long period of time. We weren’t able to keep the same group of guys on the field for a long period of time. We need to be lucky in that department, we’re not deep, but we are good on the top and if we can keep the good players around for a long period of time it’s going to give us a better opportunity to do better.”

Coach Babers shares goals for the team this season, especially the need for the defense to step up.

Babers says he is looking forward to facing power teams such as Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville which finished with the top 3 records in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. Babers says they have to work hard now and create a better offense in order to compete successfully against those teams.

Returning players join freshmen and transfers as SU football practice began this week, leading up to the season kickoff Sept. 1st.

Despite the upcoming season and intense schedule, Linebacker Zaire Franklin is just excited to start training camp.

“Going into my fourth year I’m able to really dictate how my day will go. I don’t need to take that two hour break, so rather than going home and going to sleep, that’s maybe going to the trainer, watching more film, going to practice a little bit earlier and working on little things. I want to take my game to the next level in any possible way I can.”

LB Zaire Franklin says one strength of the defense is the comfort level of playing beside some of the same people for several seasons now.

Franklin says they have been focusing on getting to know each other and building chemistry. He says it’s important to the team’s success that the freshmen are outspoken and that everyone is on the same page.  The defense  ranked near the bottom of top division football programs in yards and points allowed.  While productive members of the unit are back, such as Franklin, there are question marks in other positions, such as the defensive line. 

The Orange will face Central Connecticut on September 1st for their first game at 7 o’clock at the Carrier Dome.

(Jonathan Singh and Karthik Venkataraman helped with reporting on this story)


Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.