Early Look: Syracuse Orange

With the football season less than two weeks from opening, today we take an early look at each of the Tigers' 11 opponents for the 2020 season with the Syracuse Orange
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Head Coach: Known for his innovative, ultra-fast offense, Dino Babers is in his fifth season on the Syracuse sideline. Since his arrival on campus, Babers has reshaped the culture of Orange football. 

In 2019, Syracuse went 5-7, but finished the season strong, winning two of its last three. The Orange scored 30+ points five times and averaged 40.7 points per contest over the final three games of the year. Syracuse was among the best at taking care of the football in the passing game, finishing second in the ACC for the fewest interceptions thrown (7). Defensively, the Orange ranked fifth nationally in passes defended per game (5.67) and recorded the program’s first true-road shutout since 1991 with a 24-0, season-opening victory at Liberty.

Orange on Offense: Sterlin Gilbert is in his first season as Syracuse’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. A Texas native well versed in the veer and shoot, Gilbert has run offenses and coached quarterbacks at the FBS, FCS and high school levels. He was most recently the head coach at McNeese State prior to joining the Orange.

Gilbert previously worked with Syracuse head coach Dino Babers for three seasons. They first joined forces at Eastern Illinois in 2012 and the pair transformed the Panthers into a fast-paced juggernaut behind the play of standout quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. In his first season, Gilbert directed an EIU offense that ranked sixth in the nation in passing (334.9 ypg), seventh in total offense (470.9 ypg) and eighth in scoring (36.5 ppg). Garoppolo was seventh in the FCS in total offense (318.5 ypg), while receiver Erik Lora set the championship subdivision record for receptions (136) and led the country in receiving yards with (1,664) en route to being named the 2012 Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year. 

Orange on Defense: Tony White was hired as Syracuse’s defensive coordinator in February 2020. He joined the Orange after serving as the cornerbacks coach and defensive passing game coordinator at Arizona State from 2018-19.

White arrived in Syracuse after a short stint as the Sun Devils’ defensive coordinator, a position he was appointed to in December 2019. He ran the defense in ASU’s 20-14 victory over Florida State in the 2019 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, a game in which the Sun Devils shut out the Seminoles for nearly three quarters and scored a defensive touchdown.

In White’s two seasons at Arizona State, the Sun Devils allowed just 13 passing plays of 40+ yards – a marked improvement over the 34 such plays ASU gave up in the two years before White got to Tempe. The Sun Devil secondary made dramatic gains in White’s first year, climbing 50 spots in the NCAA’s passing defense rankings. That growth continued in 2019, as Arizona State finished the year 12th in the country with 65 passes defended. Three of White’s cornerbacks – Kobe White (2019), Jack Jones (2019) and Aashari Crosswell (2018) – were All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selections.