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Head coach Dino Babers said true freshman Darian “Duce” Chestnut received the game ball from SU’s defense following his performance on Saturday, which included eight tackles and an interception.
“In 35 years, I have never seen anybody — I’ve never even heard of anybody getting a game ball in their first collegiate game,” Babers said. “It’s something that you don’t anticipate … and (we’re) doggone glad it happened. We’re really glad he’s here.”
Here are three takeaways from Babers’ press conference ahead of Syracuse’s game against Rutgers on Saturday:
Sean Tucker’s performance and RB depth
Tucker notched four runs of 14 yards or more against Ohio, but Babers said that it was the shorter runs where the freshman running back truly impressed. Tucker “ran hard” between the tackles on those three-, four- and five-yard runs, Babers said, which helped move the chains for the Orange.
“That was a doggoned good game,” Babers added.
Babers said the coaching staff wanted to assess whether Tucker could carry a significant workload — he finished with 181 yards on 25 carries. They were excited that he could, but now they’re assessing how Tucker recovers after “a physical game” against Ohio, Babers said.
Babers highlighted the depth that SU has at running back in Cooper Lutz, Jarveon Howard and Abdul Adams, along with the running ability that quarterback Tommy DeVito showed on Saturday.
“We think Sean Tucker’s really good — that’s why he’s running out there first — but we think we’ve got some other guys too, so we want to make sure that he can handle that workload,” Babers said. “If he can’t handle that workload, then we need to divide it up with somebody else that’s in the backfield.”
When asked whether Tucker should wear the iconic No. 44 Syracuse jersey, a suggestion that fifth-year player Chris Elmore brought up ahead of SU’s season opener, Babers said his focus was on Rutgers.
“If we get far enough down the road with enough good things, we may have an opportunity to talk about that later. And if we could talk about that later, that would be really cool,” Babers said of the No. 44 uniform.
Stopping Rutgers’ explosive offense
The Scarlet Knights scored 61 points in their season-opening win over Temple — “once they got them on the ropes, they took them out,” Babers said of Rutgers. He emphasized RU’s skill and speed. Syracuse will need to play strong red zone defense like it did against Ohio, a game where it didn’t concede any touchdowns.
“These guys, if they get out on us, they’re going to be hard to get,” Babers said. “They’ll probably get all of us.”
Babers mentioned the return of Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and the “rival game” that the two universities have had since SU was in the Big East conference. The game carries implications for recruiting as well, Babers said. The scope of recruiting has changed over the years because players aren’t as tied to local area teams and are more likely to go elsewhere in the nation, he said, noting that New Jersey is “one of the top recruiting areas” for Syracuse.
SU has nine players from New Jersey on its current roster, including starting quarterback DeVito, No. 1 wide receiver Taj Harris and freshman Duce Chestnut, among others.
“Some of our most explosive players on this team are from New Jersey, so we understand that it’s a recruiting battle,” Babers said.
Updates on Chris Elmore, Maximilian Mang
Dino Babers said he couldn’t comment on tight end Chris Elmore, who is expected to miss the next three games for reasons unrelated to injury or discipline. Babers cited “federal reasons” during his opening statement as to why he couldn’t discuss Elmore’s status. A team spokesperson clarified that he was referring to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Babers confirmed that Elmore was not out indefinitely but wouldn’t provide more specifics about when the tight end and fullback is expected to return.
In Elmore’s place, Maximilian Mang has stepped into the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, behind sophomore Luke Benson. Mang’s replacing Elmore doesn’t limit the offense’s play-calling abilities, Babers said.
Still, Babers said Mang, who was recruited from Germany by tight ends coach Reno Ferri, isn’t “tailor-made” yet. Mang is working to develop his skill set, but he’s a “tough guy” who’s honing his craft, Babers said.
“Don’t go kick sand on this guy at the beach,” Babers said of Mang. “You won’t like the outcome.”
The post Dino Babers talks Sean Tucker, defense ahead of SU-Rutgers game appeared first on The Daily Orange.