Babers remains confident in team five days out from season kickoff

SU football coach prepared to take on the Tar Heels this Saturday

In the final days before the matchup against UNC, SU football head coach puts the success of the season in the hands of his players and the conference's protocols for safe play.
Published: September 8, 2020
Dino Babers watches from the sideline.
Dino Babers watches from the sideline at Syracuse University's Carrier Dome during last season's game against Clemson on Sept. 14, 2019.

In his final press conference before the first game of the season, Dino Babers discussed the steps he is taking to prepare his team for their matchup against the Tar Heels. Orange football will kick off the season this Saturday, Sept. 12 at noon against UNC at the Kenan Memorial Stadium.

Sports returned to some sense of normalcy this past weekend when college football returned to the field. While Babers says he usually doesn’t pay attention to other teams, he’s kept his eye on what happens after the clock runs down.

“Traditionally, I don’t watch any of that stuff because I’m busy doing other things, but I have to admit that I did stop and watch five minutes of running play,” Babers said. “It was really cool to see it back on TV. Been waiting to hear from the residuals from COVID-19, what happened, these games were just played, and I haven’t heard anything across the country. To hear the quietness after the games made me feel just as good as watching them and see them on TV.”

This season will be different than previous ones; COVID is the biggest concern for teams preparing for their next opponent. In the past few weeks, UNC was one of the campuses hit hardest by the pandemic, reporting that 31.3 percent of students had tested positive for coronavirus.

Babers is confident that his players will be safe when they travel to Chapel Hill for their afternoon game against the Tar Heels, largely in part due to his confidence in the team’s maturity.

“I think they’ve grown, not only on the football field but off the football field,” said Babers, on how his team has handled prepping to play during the pandemic. “There’s been a lot of mature, grown up topics that they’ve been handling as young people, some topics that the older generation should’ve taken care of a long time ago. I’m really proud of them.”

“This team is built differently than a lot of other teams. Our guys just come at it a little bit differently. There was no way in the world we wanted those numbers to go back up. I think they came into a family and a community that was going to do it the right way. They needed to adjust very quickly.”

Despite that confidence, Babers is remaining tight-lipped about what players are in for the season and what players are opting out. He also emphasized that players are welcome to change their mind at any point in the season if they feel unsafe playing.

Fans can watch the Orange take on UNC this Saturday at noon on the ACC Network or listen to the game on Cuse.com.

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is the Sports Lead Producer for The NewsHouse.