Coaches meet again in ACC

For­mer Bowl­ing Green staff face off when SU faces Wake For­est

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS -


>> Syracuse coach Dino Babers fol­lowed Wake For­est’s Dave Claw­son from Bowl­ing Green to the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence. Now he’s try­ing to fol­low him up the At­lantic Di­vi­sion stand­ings.

The for­mer Fal­cons coaches will go against each other Satur­day night when the up­tempo Orange (2-3, 0-1) visit the De­mon Dea­cons (4-1, 1-1).

“This is at warp speed,” Claw­son said of the Syracuse of­fense. “It’s as fast an of­fense as I’ve ever seen, and it’s hard to pre­pare for that tempo.” That ap­pears to be a re­flec­tion of their new coach and his go-go-go men­tal­ity.

In this matchup of teams picked to fin­ish near the bot­tom of the di­vi­sion stand­ings, the most in­trigu­ing sub­plot might be the ties be­tween the head coaches try­ing to guide their pro­grams back to promi­nence.

When Claw­son left Bowl­ing Green to take the Wake For­est job after the 2013 sea­son, the Fal­cons picked Babers as his re­place­ment. Babers took Bowl­ing Green to two bowls be­fore he was hired by Syracuse to take over for the fired Scott Shafer. “One of the things try to do when one is go­ing out and an­other is com­ing in, if it’s a pos­i­tive sit­u­a­tion, you try to touch base and give Cliff’s Notes, so to speak, of what you’re leav­ing be­hind,” Babers said. “He and I got an op­por­tu­nity to do that.”

After two tough sea­sons with the De­mon Dea­cons, Claw­son has them show­ing con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment in Year 3. Wake For­est started 4-0 for the first time in a decade and — with a fa­vor­able sched­ule ahead — looks ca­pa­ble of reach­ing the six-win mark and reach­ing its first bowl since 2011.

Syracuse is try­ing to make a sim­i­lar climb un­der Babers. The Orange have won just three ACC games in the last two-plus years and Babers has preached pa­tience as he tries to re­build the proud pro­gram. “The main thing is it’s a process,” Babers said. “The process is, you have cer­tain things you have to do and if you do those things you’re go­ing to give your­self an op­por­tu­nity to win. They need to stay locked in on the process and not get caught up on what the score­board says.”

Some things to know about the Syracuse-Wake For­est game:

Speedy Syracuse

The Orange rank fourth in the ACC in to­tal of­fense, av­er­ag­ing 495 yards per game, but they’ve also run the most plays in the league (433). That fast pace will pose a chal­lenge for a Wake For­est de­fense that ranks in the mid­dle of the pack in the con­fer­ence, and has al­lowed early scores in each of its three games against Power Five op­po­nents. “It is al­most like pre­par­ing for a triple-op­tion team,” Claw­son said. “You can try sim­u­late it, but you are never go­ing to sim­u­late it as well as they do it.”

Orange combo

The pass-catch com­bi­na­tion of QB Eric Dungey and WR Amba Etta-Tawo has put up some im­pres­sive num­bers. Dungey leads the league with an av­er­age of 346 yards pass­ing, while Etta-Tawo is tops with both 9.4 catches and 168 yards re­ceiv­ing per game and set a school record with 270 yards two weeks ago at Con­necti­cut. “We have some good stats,” Dungey said, “but we have to put more points on the board.”

The se­ries

This is the fifth meet­ing be­tween the schools, with all com­ing since 2006. The Orange have won the past four, in­clud­ing all three since they joined the ACC be­fore the 2013 sea­son.

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