Syracuse Football: Analysis of the Eric Dungey trick play

While the Syracuse football team did lose on Saturday. There is still one more note to get too before we move on to the University of Connecticut.

South Florida soundly beat the Syracuse football team on Saturday. There’s no argument there, but before we move on to the University of Connecticut there’s one more nugget to get too.

So late in the first half the Orange are driving down the field. The game is still within striking distance at 28 to 17.

It’s third and five and Syracuse needs a big play, but what head coach Dino Babers drew up has led to a lot of controversy. On that play the Orange did a few reverses and the ball ended up in running back Moe Neal’s hands.

Then Neal dropped back and chucked a pass downfield to none other than quarterback Eric Dungey. Now lets pause right there for a moment, at this point the team is down 11 and they’re a little past midfield.

Just establishing the scene, now back to the play. So Neal throws the pass and many Syracuse fans who are watching the game on the ACC Network Extra are thinking touchdown.

Because why else would you throw the pass on a trick play unless it was wide open? So according to the replay that we saw, he wasn’t wide open.

In his post-game press conference, he got a chance to clarify the play-call. Here are his comments through ESPN Syracuse:

The difference between his example and the one we saw Saturday was the game situation. In Babers’ example it was to win the game at the end.

For the Orange it was near the end of the half and they’re down by 11. Babers hasn’t been afraid to go against the grain with his philosophies that is for sure.

The highlights didn’t show Babers side of things. But to Babers’ credit he said he will call the play again.

Of course this was right after the game, so the coach’s emotions could’ve gotten the best of him. So he was again asked about the play on Monday in his weekly press conference.

He remained adamant about defending the play call and cited Dungey’s aggressiveness as a factor. Now sure I may be another knucklehead telling Babers that his decision wasn’t logical.

What’s the risk vs. reward on that play? Even if Babers is right and it ends up going for six, so what?

But what about the cons of that play? Three South Florida defenders were waiting there to light Dungey up.

Plus the only reason he got a hand on the ball was to deflect it from getting intercepted. The point of this is that Dungey has a history of concussions.

Which means that we’re trying to prevent him from getting any more. Putting him out at receiver on this trick play and potentially putting him in harms way for one score just doesn’t make sense.

It’s a risky play that could’ve cost the Orange their season. Sure things don’t look too bright right now sitting at (1-2) with games against Clemson, Florida State, and Notre Dame left.

Zack Mahoney is a capable backup, but he’s not good enough to put the program on his back. So the only chance for the Orange to compete this year is on the arm of Dungey.

While fortunately he wasn’t injured, it should remain a cautionary tale of the risks of this offense.

Not saying don’t take any chances, because we know Babers will. But the offensive play calls should have Dungey’s health in mind.


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