No. 22 NC State ready for ‘Cuse QB challenge

Syracuse coach Dino Babers would rather talk about the opposing team’s quarterback than his own team’s situation at that position

By Saturday night, he’s hoping the conversation centers on the Orange.

No. 22 North Carolina State visits the Carrier Dome for a key Atlantic Coast Conference game in Syracuse, N.Y.

Babers must decide between three-year starter Eric Dungey and redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito, whose late-game heroics helped the Orange to a double-overtime victory last weekend against North Carolina.

“We got two good quarterbacks,” Babers said. “I think we should treat that position like any other position.”

Dungey has been Syracuse’s starter for at least seven games in four straight seasons. DeVito was a highly regarded recruit and he provided a spark at the right time as the Orange snapped a two-game skid last week.

Babers said the offense practices the same general schemes with each quarterback. There’s not an overhaul based on which player is taking snaps.

Finley looking to bounce back

While Syracuse (5-2, 2-2 ACC) has a choice to make, it’s clear that N.C. State (5-1, 2-1) is sticking with veteran Ryan Finley despite a rare subpar outing in a 41-7 loss at undefeated Clemson.

“Being consistent, he has proven year after year after year that he has been (among the best in the ACC),” Babers said of Finley. “His throwing percentage is so high.”

Finley has 10 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season, though he threw two picks in the Clemson game without a scoring toss.

“We’re 5-1. We got a lot (of) the season left,” Finley said. “So it’s not the end of the world but, it was a bad loss and we are a better football team (than we showed).”

Finley has started all 32 games since he arrived at N.C. State as a graduate transfer from Boise State.

The Wolfpack is anxious to put that result in the rear-view mirror.

“Make sure this doesn’t happen again,” wide receiver Jakobi Meyers said.

Yet the latest result was a crushing blow to the Wolfpack’s bid for a first ACC divisional title. It disrupted the best start to a season since 2002 for the Wolfpack.

“We’re going to bounce back,” Finley said. “I’m confident in our guys.”

N.C. State’s quest to slow down the Syracuse offense comes in part with linebacker Germaine Pratt, who leads the ACC with 9.5 tackles per game.

Babers, whose team lost last month at Clemson by a 27-23 score, said
N.C. State’s outing at Death Valley was probably an outlier. He’s expecting the Wolfpack will turn in an upgraded performance this week.

“I’m sure they’re not happy with their performance and they want to take it out on somebody,” Babers said. “We have to work really hard in our house and put our best foot forward to make sure they don’t take it out on us.”

N.C. State is 10-1 in the series with Syracuse, with the lone loss coming in 2013.

That was the last season that the Orange reached a bowl game. Syracuse can secure bowl eligibility with another victory.

Babers said his team can’t be distracted with that possibility.

“We’re trying to win our next game and go 1-0 this week,” he said. “If we do, we’ll accomplish some things we haven’t done around here in a long time.”

The Orange is 4-0 in home games, aiming to reach the five-win mark in the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2003.

“We expect it to be loud and crazy in there,” Babers said.

–Field Level Media

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