Syracuse, NY — The Syracuse Orange have had to scrape some meaningful snaps from the bottom of their depth chart for most of the 2020 season. Normally, the last place you want to see third-stringers step in is behind center. However, the JaCobian Morgan sighting in the fourth quarter was perhaps the only time Orange fans weren’t shielding their eyes from the television.
The 6’4” true freshman relieved redshirt senior Rex Culpepper after the long-haired quarterback handed in a three turnover performance against Wake Forest. Morgan was only on the field for one drive, but it was literally perfect. Morgan completed all seven of his passing attempts, headlining a ten-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with his first collegiate touchdown pass.
The display was a sight for sore eyes, but Syracuse head coach Dino Babers wasn’t impressed with the 215.5 QB rating.
“I’m glad he didn't fumble the snap,” Babers said postgame when asked about the youngster’s performance.
“I’m glad that it looked like he could throw the football. But again, I wouldn't put too much stock on that. That's the end of the game. We're running out the clock on ourselves and those guys are giving him those throws. Pretty sure he didn't get blitzed. That's like throwing seven on seven. That's not like a real football game.”
It’s true. The score was 38-7 and the game was already over by the time Morgan took the field. But it was a ten-point game at halftime. Things got out of hand in a hurry when a third quarter Culpepper pick-six gave the Demon Deacons a 24-point lead. Rather than pull the plug right then and there with most of the second half to play, Babers kept rolling with Rex. Despite the numbers, Babers believed it was Culpepper’s seniority that gave the Orange the best chance to win.
“We're still trying to win the game,” Babers said defending his decision. “And with Rex, we have our entire offense. You've got to understand that when you're a senior and you've got a chance to win the game, you don't want to see a bunch of young guys.
“The best way to have a winning season is to have as many upperclassmen as you can because those guys care more about winning than anyone else. No one wants to go out on a bad note.”
After falling to 1-6, it’s now impossible for the Orange to have a winning season with just four games left. As far as finishing on a strong note is concerned, the best chance of that happening is to see what you have with your young guys moving forward. Babers was asked how large the gap was between what we saw from Morgan today and the moment he’d be comfortable giving him a larger role in the offense. The answer didn’t inspire much optimism for those hoping to see a change sooner rather than later.
“What you got to do is you've got to change and you've got to cut back, which makes yourself extremely simple,” Babers explained. “You've got to start weighing the positives versus the negatives, which all that stuff is down the road right now.”