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Syracuse Orange football quotes as they take the stage at ACC Football Kickoff

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The Syracuse Orange didn’t have a great 2020 football season. A single win in a pandemic-stricken season would normally be written off, but the program continued to decline after a 10-win season that felt like a page turning in the shiny new ACC. While the season isn’t a make-or-break year, according to the athletic department, a media blackout spring session is asking fans a lot of questions that don’t seem to have happy answers when thrown around talk radio or comment sections.

Today at the ACC Football Kickoff, we got to hear from Head Coach Dino Babers and Team Leaders Taj Harris, Josh Black and Aaron Servais as they answered questions from across the ACC. As we are used to there was not much biting insight or in-depth knowledge of the program but the basics were covered by everyone like…

What the hell is going on at QB?

Harris: The quarterback room looks good. It’s been looking good since I’ve been here. Tommy pretty good, Shrader pretty good. But it’s not just those guys. JaCobian Morgan, Luke MacPhail, a bunch of young guys. I feel like there are talented guys out there who can swing the ball.

Service: Yes, I mean, Garrett is definitely a talented man. He’s actually my roommate now, so I spent a lot of time with him. Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t really matter who’s behind us. Up front, if we can’t hold him upright, it really doesn’t matter how talented they are. There is definitely a lot of talent in that room. Good to see those guys fighting. But we need to do our job ahead of time so those guys can really shine.

Will the line of attack be improved?

babes: I think the first thing is that we should call it exactly as it is. We had major injuries, knock-on effect from injuries in the offensive line. Most of them not on the football field. Most of them walk around the campus. Just fluke… We’ve had some changes. We have a number of different coaches in a number of different positions. But I think the main difference will be that those guys are healthy, and they wouldn’t have a bunch of young guys in there with a few older guys. Well have an older group, and they are ready to be. It always starts with the O-line and it always starts with the defense line. You can’t be good at football if you’re not good at those two positions. Hopefully we have the health we need to have the season we want.

Service: Coach Schmidt was great. He’s made a few tweaks and things technically and schematically. The main thing he has brought to our offensive and offensive line is a change of mindset. We really want to go after the guys, get off the ball, really attack me. So that’s what I’m saying, yes.

NCAA Football: ACC Kickoff

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

What steps have been taken to improve last year’s one win campaign?

Black: One of the main reasons I came back is to lead this team. I’m not going to get up here and talk to everyone about what happened last year. I personally gave myself a lot of responsibility for our season last year just because I wasn’t playing the role I was supposed to be. I had to be a leader in the whole team. It’s easy to lead just your defense line or your unit, but I haven’t reached the whole team. I had to involve everyone, and I personally put a lot of responsibility on that. So that didn’t sit well with myself to start with. Second, I can’t go out on a losing season. Only 1-10, those numbers are horrendous. When you look at that on paper, it’s like, Oh, man. Something just didn’t feel right, it didn’t sit right with me. I personally know a lot of the guys felt the same way. Felt like last year didn’t represent who we are as a football team. It’s part of my job to make sure we’re on the right track before I leave here.

Service: I know Josh talked about it a lot, that season last year left a bad taste in our mouths. Especially as seniors, the leaders of the team, we put a lot of the weight of that season on our shoulders. That is certainly not the way we wanted to leave our legacy, the legacy of 2020. Yes, we definitely wanted to come back to correct some mistakes.

babes; I think the most important thing is that we had a bad season, and we’ve had a really, really good season. I don’t think we were as bad as we were in the bad season, and maybe not as good as we were in the good season. But what I really want is consistency. I want to be consistently good, not great every now and then. If we can find that consistency, I think we can find the support and foundation we need, not just for the university, but also for the community. It’s really important to me that they have a football team that they can be proud of. That’s very, very important.

Finally, after the past 16 months, it has become more apparent than ever that Dino Babers’ role as one of the few power five coaches of color is something that needs a little more discussion, and Coach was asked about it during his session. Here was his response.

Every day I want to be known as a football coach. Watch me say this. I want to be known as a football coach, a good football coach, and I appreciate you saying that. There’s no doubt that when I look in the mirror, I wake up in the morning to see an African American staring at me. The responsibility is to make sure that the things I do in this position give other people the opportunity to enjoy and embrace the same profession. It gets difficult sometimes. Sometimes it’s just like, wow, I’d love to do that, but I can’t. But you have to understand that you are not only doing it for your family and your university and your community, but you are also doing it for others. I am not perfect. I’m not always right. I try to be as good as I can be (laughter), and not bad. But there’s no question that you make sure you cross Ts and dot Is, because you want those opportunities to happen to other people like me, to get the same opportunities I had.

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