SU read­ies to face Clem­son

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Kekis

Syra­cuse quar­ter­back Eric Dungey has adapted well to coach Dino Babers and the fast-paced of­fense he’s in­stalled. And Dungey has turned more than a few heads with his suc­cess in the new sys­tem.

Syra­cuse (4-4, 2-2 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) leads the ACC and ranks fifth na­tion­ally in pass­ing of­fense, av­er­ag­ing 357.1 yards per game, and he leads the con­fer­ence with 328 pass­ing yards a game.

“I’m just try­ing to do my part,” said Dungey, leader of an of­fense that’s on pace to pro­duce the most pro­lific pass­ing sea­son in pro­gram his­tory. In a 28-20 win at Bos­ton Col­lege two weeks ago, he threw for a ca­reer-high 434 yards and three touch­downs, his sixth 300-yard pass­ing game of the sea­son.

The Or­ange are com­ing off an im­por­tant bye week. They’ve had two weeks to get ready to travel to No. 3 Clem­son on Satur­day. The Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC), one of five un­de­feated teams re­main­ing in col­lege foot­ball, are com­ing off a 37-34 tri­umph at Florida State .

De­spite con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries over then-No. 17 Vir­ginia Tech and Bos­ton Col­lege that res­cued a fad­ing sea­son, the Or­ange are listed as 28-point un­der­dogs against Clem­son , ranked se­cond in the sea­son’s first Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings.

Still, they rel­ish the chance to shine in the na­tional spot­light.

“We’ve been the un­der­dog all sea­son,” Dungey said. “I think we were sup­posed to win just one game, but it’s cool. Re­ally no pres­sure on us. The pres­sure’s on the other team.

“It’s a huge state­ment if we beat them. We just have to fo­cus on do­ing our job.”

Babers gar­nered na­tional at­ten­tion with his stir­ring speech in the Car­rier Dome locker room af­ter the big win over the Hok­ies. This week he’s us­ing a dif­fer­ent tack.

“The re­ally cool thing about foot­ball is that the ball’s not round, and it doesn’t bounce cor­rectly all the time,” Babers said. “If we can get a cou­ple of bounces our way, then maybe, maybe we get a chance. Maybe.

“But don’t bet the house on it, brother.”

Un­der­stand­able sen­ti­ment since the game will be played in Death Val­ley. It’s also the sign of a master motivator.

“That’s Coach B.,” Dungey said. “I love to prove peo­ple wrong. That’s one of my fa­vorite things. At the end of the day, it’s just go­ing to be us lined up against an­other team.

“It’s go­ing to be loud, but at the end of the day the field ... is the same size. Coach says you can’t let the stage get too big.”

Last Novem­ber against Syra­cuse, Clem­son quar­ter­back De­Shaun Wat­son made sure the un­beaten Tigers stayed on track for a shot at the na­tional cham­pi­onship, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing 461 to­tal yards and ac­count­ing for three touch­downs in a 37-27 vic­tory over a team that fin­ished 4-8.

It seems dif­fer­ent this time for the Or­ange.

“Last two games have built our con­fi­dence a lit­tle bit, raised the bar, raised the stan­dards,”said Syra­cuse wide­out Amba Et­taTawo, who tops the con­fer­ence with 1,034 yards re­ceiv­ing and seven TD catches.

Added line­backer Zaire Franklin: “It’s just a dif­fer­ent vibe in the locker room. Our out­look is look­ing a lot dif­fer­ent. I’m not look­ing at it as a big state­ment. I’m just look­ing at it as beat­ing a very good team on the road.

To be blessed on this up­ward swing, ev­ery­body’s play­ing with a lit­tle more con­fi­dence.”


Syra­cuse quar­ter­back Eric Dungey (2) drops back to pass dur­ing the se­cond half of an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game against Bos­ton Col­lege, Satur­day in Bos­ton.

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