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Saturday, Apr 22, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Syracuse Defense Shows Improvements in Spring Football Showcase

By Nicole Hansen

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Fans migrated to the Carrier Dome on Saturday for an early-morning sneak peek at Dino Babers’ 2017 squad.

The Orange team and White team faced off in the spring practice finale, pitting first string units against second string.

The Orange team came out on top, winning 14-0. The only two scores of the game came from a pick-6 from Antwan Cordy and 35 yard touchdown pass from Eric Dungey.

After the scrimmage, Head coach Dino Babers praised the progress his defense has made.

“I just thought it was a fantastic effort by them,” Babers said. “I was really proud of the defense, I thought it was a really balanced spring, but we’re definitely excited about the improvement on the defensive side.”

The defenses forced five turnovers, 3 interceptions and 4 sacks combined on the day.

The players emphasized how important their spring practices were in preparing for the scrimmage and the regular season.

“Those practices we had in the spring, it was very physical,” quarterback Eric Dungey said. “I think that’s where the most work was put in…all the work was really done behind those closed doors.”

“You get better at spring practices,” linebacker Zaire Franklin elaborated. “Showcases are mainly for the fans.”

In his start of his second season with the Orange, Babers said judging the progress of this team is about more than just the wins and losses.

“You’re gonna always judge it by W’s and L’s,” Babers said. “Coaches look at things differently. As long as we’re progressing and we’re moving along, it’s not my first rodeo, it’s is the third time that I’ve done this. I know what I’m looking for and I think these guys are moving in the right direction.”

“I think we should all understand what kind of schedule we have,” he continued. “11 out of 12 opponents were bowl teams. Toughest schedule in the country. Based off of a second year rebuild, I mean, that’s no joke. I mean, Google it…we’re not making this stuff up to make it sound good. Now that being said, we’ll line up every Saturday and we’ll play. And wherever the chips fall, they’ll fall. And we’re looking forward to it.”

Franklin also stressed how comfortable things are for this team now that they have been with this coaching staff for a full season.

“When you’ve got coaches come in, and they don’t know you, you don’t really know them, the first year or so is really just about building trust and trying to gain that relationship,” Franklin explained. “Also just understanding your responsibilities and new roles on the team. Now you come in, everyone’s comfortable.”

The team’s spring schedule is over, and the Orange now moving on to summer practices to prepare for its first game of the regular season. That game is against Central Connecticut State in the Carrier Dome on September 1.