Dino Babers discusses challenges as season opener approaches

Babers talks preseason challenges prior to season opener

With coronavirus, social justices and classes in the mix, SU football head coach said he's just as concerned with players' mental health.
Published: September 1, 2020
Coach Dino Babers answers a question in his last press conference of the season in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. Syracuse beat Wake Forest 39-30 in overtime.
SU football head coach Dino Babers, shown here at the 2019 season final game press conference, said preparing for football this year has additional challenges.

While skepticism remains about playing college football in the midst of a pandemic and social justice has garnered national attention from athletes at all levels, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers says his team is still trying its best to be ready for its season opener less than two weeks away.

“It’s extremely different, there’s nothing to relate it to, and every day you feel like the fires over in California,” Babers said Monday. “Every day there’s something propping up that you got to put out.”

Syracuse is scheduled to return to the playing field in Chapel Hill, N.C., against North Carolina for a noon game on Sept. 12. Football pre-season has been peppered with concerns about COVID-19 outbreaks, protests in support of Black Lives Matter on top of the return to classes.

Babers admits he’s concerned about his players and their mental health while they are handling each of these at a time when they’re trying to prepare to play football.

“A lot of those things that they’re dealing with, you wish they didn’t have to deal with at that age,” Babers said. “It’s one of those times where there’s a lot of pain, and when there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of growth when it’s all over.”

As for the X’s and O’s, Syracuse football is looking for better production from the offensive line. Babers said among his team’s biggest needs this year is better production and cohesion from the offensive line.

“The offensive linemen work together all the time,” Babers said. “They’re like your left hand and right hands working together. They really got to have a feel for each other if they’re really going to be above average.”