DINO BABERS: We’re excited where we’re at right now. We’re looking forward to playing Louisville Cardinals. Coach Petrino does a nice job. They’ve really gotten the best of us the last two years. We know we’re going to have our hands full. We’re trying to be ready, cross Ts, dot Is. We might have an opportunity or chance to feel better about how this thing turns out because they’ve been so dominant against us in the past.
Q. To look at what Eric Dungey had to say, you echo those sentiments, of packing the dome, the hard times at Syracuse to get to where they are today, what can you say about the importance of the fans showing up for this team, some guys, their final home game?
DINO BABERS: I really do hope the fans understand how emotional this game is. When you’re a senior, if you’ve ever been a senior, you’re playing your last game at your home site, you’ve bled for the team, if you’re a really good football player, you’ve probably broken some bones or torn a ligament for that team. It’s just one of those things that you’re going to always remember.
If they can put that in their hearts and minds, just come out to say good-bye to this senior class, that really put us back on the right road, given us an opportunity to change this program. I mean, my heart would go out to them because I think not only would I appreciate it, but I think those young men deserve it.
Q. From the moment that you walked into Syracuse and met Eric, got around him, saw what he could do, to where it is right now, how he’s grown in front of your eyes, as his head coach what you’ve taken away from him on and off the field?
DINO BABERS: First of all, one of the reasons I came to Syracuse was Eric Dungey. When you have a lot of job offers, if you’re an offensive guy, you’re always going to look to see if they have a returning quarterback. There was a lot of things we could have done or I could have done.
One thing that really intrigued me was watching Eric as a freshman, seeing the things he was doing, wanting to have an opportunity to coach him. Doesn’t mean it was going to turn out right, didn’t mean everything was going to go okay. Thank goodness it did. He’s having the type of senior year we can all be proud of.
Q. Obviously the bye week was an important time for you this year. What did you see from that senior class and leadership group, if you think there’s anything they did during that time that helped you get back on track?
DINO BABERS: I think the biggest thing that the seniors did during the bye week is they didn’t complain and they didn’t moan. Our bye week was not a get healed type of week. It was what in the heck do you want to do with this season, do you want to stay the same or do you want to get better.
We were extremely physical during the bye week. We conditioned twice during that thing. It was almost like a baby hell week in the middle of the season. They didn’t say a word. All they wanted to know was this going to make them better and give them an opportunity to win. When I told them the answer was yes, all they did was start working.
When you have that leadership at the top, it’s difficult for somebody in the lower classes not to follow in line and follow their lead. That’s the thing they really got done during the bye week.
Q. Personnel question. Tyrone Perkins, Moe Neal and (indiscernible) doing?
DINO BABERS: I think all those guys have a chance. Tyrone is still in North Carolina. Let me say this. I got a picture from Tyrone yesterday with Dave Clawson visiting him in the hospital. I just want to say publicly that I really do appreciate Dave doing that. That was something that was very gracious on his end.
All of us know how important our time is as a head coach, especially to our own programs. For him to go out and visit one of my guys in the local hospital is something I’ll never forget, something that I’ll always appreciate.
Q. Ryan Guthrie, his recruitment, how you stumbled upon him, the decision to pursue him, ultimately extend him an offer.
DINO BABERS: I can’t remember. That’s far back for me. I had a lot of recruiting battles since then.
The main thing is Ryan was a junior college linebacker. We knew we were going to be hit with major graduations with Zaire, Parris and J.T. We didn’t want to go straight to young guys. We wanted to have some older guys in the program that could bridge that thing just in case we didn’t hit home runs with the younger people. That was one of the main reasons we went after Ryan.
Ryan did a fantastic job with us. He was someone we thought could help us not immediately at linebacker because we were so strong there last year with those three, but he came on the field last year was a defensive end. I want to say he made a critical sack in one of our big games, in the Pittsburgh game, that helped us win the Pittsburgh game at home. I think we won by three or four points at home last year. He made some plays for us last year.
I really believe that his play on the field at defensive end has really highlighted his game, really got him moving in the right direction to be our starting Mike, be doing a great job for us right now.
The other thing I’d throw out there, he was the runner-up for defensive captain picked among the peers of the football team. For him to be in such high regard where he was almost the defensive captain, he’s only been with us a short time being a junior college player, really says something about his leadership, what the rest of this football team thinks about him.
Q. To be sitting there with seven wins right now, having clinched a winning season, did you see this coming in the off-season? Did you sit in the summer and say, This is going to be the year, I can see this is going to be a winning season for the team?
DINO BABERS: I really felt with our last game last year, I really thought this team was going to be special. We really started changing a lot of things that we have traditionally done in the program to make sure they were going to be special.
It even came to the point where I took my vacation early, I spent the entire summer here, not coaching the team obviously, that’s illegal, but to be around them so they could come and see me. I wanted them to know while they were here in the summertime doing their work, I was also doing my work in my office to do everything possible to make this team different than the 2018 team.
You could just tell the bond and the way that the young men were going about their work during the summertime, the way they were attending summer school, making sure they were doing well in classes, everything was sharper, everything was clearer. Didn’t mean we were guaranteed for us to be different. I just felt that it gave us a chance.
I’m really happy for the seniors, the things they’ve done so far. Our work is not done yet, though.
Q. When you have an offense as prolific as yours, do you see teams dramatically alter the way they play offense in terms of either trying to possess the football or be more aggressive to putting up points?
DINO BABERS: I think that’s a very fair question. I think we see both of those things. They normally take an approach that they want to score, score for score with us. Louisville, we haven’t been able to keep up with them in those situations in the last two years.
Then they also had the approach of maybe academy where they want to keep the ball away from our offense, limit the possessions, try to out-efficient you in winning the football game. We’ve had teams do that. Had some success doing that, as well.
Q. You’d expect the academies to try to possess the ball, Bobby to try to score a lot. Do you find the teams stay in character or have you seen some teams change their identity to face you?
DINO BABERS: It really depends on whether they really respect what you’re doing or they really think you’re capable of doing what you’re doing. I think that comes back to how the other guys see whether you can operate efficiently at that level, at a high level, or whether they feel you cannot operate efficiently at a high level.
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