Dan Villari leads Syracuse football to 28-13 win over Pittsburgh at Yankee Stadium
Syracuse football (5-5, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) was in the midst of a five-game losing streak with a multitude of questions regarding who would be the quarterback against Pittsburgh (2-8, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).
After Garrett Shrader was hurt against Virginia Tech, Carlos Del Rio-Wilson got the start against Boston College, struggled mightily, and appeared to get injured near the end of the game. The health of Shrader was unknown, but an hour before kickoff it was reported that QB1 was warming up with his pads and helmet on.
However, Shrader didn’t play how he normally would. The senior played the whole game and threw the ball twice against the Panthers. Head coach Dino Babers knew this was uncharacteristic but trusted his team.
“It was an outstanding performance. We asked them to do something that was drastic and extremely different. You can’t do that without belief,” said Babers.
Former Michigan quarterback, now Syracuse tight end, Dan Villari got a majority of the snaps in the shotgun. The Long Island native led the Orange on the ground with 17 carries for 154 yards and led the team with just 12 passing yards.
Shockingly though, the reason behind this according to Babers had nothing to do with Shrader's health.
“The plan wasn’t based off Garrett’s availability,” Babers said. “We wanted to be more physical. We wanted to go old-school. We wanted to go back 100 years.”
Tonight was the first time in Villari’s career that the gadget man had more than three rushing attempts in a game. It was the first time all year that he ran the ball more than once. Garrett Shrader ended up running for 96 yards and a touchdown but only attempted two passes.
Babers said after the game that this proved that Villari’s ceiling is sky high.
“He came here as a quarterback and we asked him to do something a lot of quarterbacks don’t do,” Babers said. “I still believe that, humbly, he is going to be an NFL tight end.”
The uncharacteristic offense played by the ‘Cuse worked against a struggling Pittsburgh team but the question now is if it will work against the next opponent. Syracuse travels to the Peach State to take on Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and WAER’s coverage gets underway at 7:30 p.m. with McClurg Remodeling Countdown to Kickoff.