Dino Babers: ‘I just need to see something different’

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments At his weekly press conference Monday, Dino Babers consistently referred to his desire to see something different defensively. “The big thing is we’re trying to get a change,” Babers said. “I’ve already mentioned previously that I just need to see something different. I just thought we weren’t moving in the direction I thought we should be moving in.”It was his first time addressing the media since firing defensive coordinator Brian Ward after giving up nearly 500 rushing yards to Boston College. Diving straight into questions — and letting reporters bring up the topic of Ward’s dismissal — Babers said he thinks Syracuse (3-6, 0-5 Atlantic Coast) needs to put its best defensive personnel in positions to impact the game more ahead of a matchup at Duke (4-5, 2-3), though he didn’t specify what that might look like. To date, Babers hasn’t seen it and decided that the time had come to make a change.“It wasn’t one thing, but it was a lot of things,” Babers said, “which I’m not going to get into.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCurrently, defensive ends coach Steve Stanard is serving as the interim defensive coordinator. He’ll have a “blank slate” to start “painting a portrait” that Babers will use to judge whether he wants to keep Stanard in the position or seek outside talent. Ward, who served as Babers’ defensive coordinator for the head coach’s entire tenure at SU and Babers’ last year at Bowling Green until his firing, led a defense that’s regressed this year. After pitching a shutout in the opener, the Orange’s defense was missing in action against Maryland, a 43-point drubbing. After a strong start against Clemson the following week, it seemed the beatdown in College Park might’ve been an aberration.But after keeping Syracuse afloat while the offense floundered against North Carolina State and Pittsburgh, the Orange defense finally cracked. In two games against Florida State and Boston College, SU surrendered 93 points, 737 rushing yards and struggled to tackle on first contact, let alone make enough impactful plays. For Babers, it was time for a tough call.“When something like this happens it’s really, extremely personal,” Babers said. “You’re talking about someone that has been a part of our family for a long time.”Ward stuck to the base 4-3 and nickel schemes that have been staples of his time in charge of SU’s defense. And running some of the same sets that the Orange dominated in 2018 with, Syracuse never got the turnovers and impact plays it needed. The stars of last year — Andre Cisco, Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman — haven’t come close to matching prior production, either.It’s unclear what changes in personnel, schemes and play calling tendencies Stanard might bring. But in a season where Babers has already said SU’s “best players have to be our best players,” it’s likely Stanard and the rest of the coaching staff will shake it up to unlock their stars and, hopefully, the rest of the defense.Other notesWith only three games remaining, defensive lineman McKinley Williams, who has missed every game with a lower-left leg injury, will be eligible to medically redshirt — as will center Sam Heckel. Babers said he wouldn’t expect Williams to make a return this season.Babers was barely asked about the Blue Devils, SU’s upcoming opponent, but did laud Duke head coach David Cutcliffe as the smartest coach in the conference, calling him “the smartest guy in the room” when all 14 coaches are together 0n media day. center_img Published on November 11, 2019 at 2:45 pm Contact Andrew: aegraham@syr.edu | @A_E_Grahamlast_img

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