A year ago, Syracuse had one of the slowest offenses in the country. With the hiring of new head coach Dino Babers, that will change in 2016. We caught up with quarterback Eric Dungey to see how the transition has gone and what he thinks about Babers’ up-tempo style.
What was it like running Coach Babers' offense this spring?
Dungey: It’s a lot different. It’s new tempo, new offense, new defense. There’s a big learning curve. The first week was a little rough. It was just sloppy, the first time installing stuff. But as the weeks went on, we got better and better. We’re still not where we want to be, but it looks a lot better than the first day.
Supposedly there is no set playbook. That must take some getting used to.
Dungey: Yeah, there’s no playbook. That’s different. You’ve got to take really good notes in meetings, put in a lot of time to learn the offense.
You can’t even use the old offseason cliche of 'I’m really studying the playbook' since there is no playbook.
Dungey: Yeah. It’s just -- you work on the concepts. You work on timing. That’s a major part of the offense.
The one word everyone seems to use regarding this offense is that it’s fun. Has that been the case?
Dungey: Oh, it’s a blast. The spring game was a lot of fun. It’s just out there. It brings back a whole new aspect of the game. Some people say college is more of a job, but this offense, it’s so enjoyable. The offense, it’s a whole new kind of fast. I thought I went no-huddle in high school, but this made that seem like the Wing-T almost.
Your skill set as both a runner and a passer would seem to be a good fit for this. Have you found that to be true as you’ve gotten deeper into the concepts of the offense?
Dungey: I definitely feel confident in this offense -- more confident. But I’m really just trying to do the best I can to learn it. Coach Babers has still said the starting job isn’t set until the first game, so I’ve got to keep working harder and harder, because you don’t ever know.
On a personal level, what’s it been like working with Coach Babers?
Dungey: He demands perfection. You’ve got to be perfect. No matter what you’re doing. I like that. He’s always going to hold you accountable. You can’t take a rep off, you can’t slack. And that’s great. It just makes you better.
Do you even watch film from last year?
Dungey: No, not at all. It’s like two different worlds.
Not even the film of some of the hits you took?
Dungey: I’ve just got to be smarter with getting down. Coach Babers and Coach [Sean] Lewis have made that clear. I’m trying to get bigger in case I do need to take a hit. I mean, obviously I’ll get hit. It’s college football. You can’t go un-hit. But I’ve got to be smart and limit the hits, and I’ll be all right.
You talked about the importance of getting the timing down with your receivers and the line. How has that come along?
Dungey: Yeah, every week -- seemed like every practice -- the receivers and linemen, everyone was getting better and better. As they get a better grasp on the concepts, it starts to flow more smoothly. But Coach Babers always says, it starts with the quarterback, so the quarterback has to be right. But at the same time, the offense has to mold together.
As you move from spring into the offseason, do you feel like you’re ready to take a lead role in helping the offense to keep developing?
Dungey: You just train like you’re the backup. The quarterbacks and I, we have a good relationship, but you can’t get complacent. You train like you’re the backup, and we’re going to push each other. It’s all going to be on us. We’ll get with the receivers, with everybody we need to, to make sure this thing gets going right.