There’s a new saying around the Syracuse football program that keeps getting repeated during their televised games: “Orange is the new fast.” Pretty soon, Syracuse fans might also be saying “Babers owns the Orange record book.”
It’s no secret that Syracuse’s new offense under first-year coach Dino Babers is pretty fast. When it’s firing on all cylinders, Orange sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey gets his teammates up to the line of scrimmage and runs another play about 12 seconds after the last one ended.
Through four games, that’s resulted in an average of 86.25 offensive plays per game. Just by virtue of volume, the Orange are going to have a chance to rewrite the school record book while Babers is head coach.
The first of what could be many fell Saturday against Connecticut. Senior transfer wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo hauled in 12 receptions for 270 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. His 270 receiving yards broke an individual-game school record that had stood since 1985.
Additionally, Etta-Tawo became the first Orange receiver to post at least 200 yards in two different games and is the very first Syracuse wideout to start a season with four consecutive 100-yard receiving games.
With the amount of plays and all the looks Dungey gives Etta-Tawo, the senior receiver has a great chance of continuing his record pace. On Saturday, Etta-Tawo had twice as many catches as any other Orange wideout, and he averaged twice as many yards per catch than any Syracuse receiver who had at least three receptions.
In all, Dungey completed 26 passes versus Connecticut, and 12 of them were to Etta-Tawo.
Sure, he’s benefited from an easier early schedule. Syracuse has only faced one power-five conference opponent through four weeks and played FBS opponent Colgate, but Etta-Tawo has carved up even the best he’s faced this season. Against Louisville, he caught eight passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns, which came when the game was still very much in doubt.
On Saturday versus Connecticut, Etta-Tawo beat the best the AAC conference has to offer. Huskies cornerback Jamar Summers was voted All-AAC this preseason, but that didn’t stop the Orange senior wideout from recording touchdown receptions of 57 and 30 yards. He could have possibly had another big gainer, as it looked like he had Summers beat again for at least a 40-yard gain, but Dungey under threw the ball just a bit, and Summers was able to make a play.
Babers has little doubt with the amount of success he’s shown versus the best from Connecticut and Louisville, that Etta-Tawo can beat the best defenders the ACC has to offer.
“We really think Amba can beat anyone out there,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said according to the Daily Orange. “He is an exceptional player with a lot of God-given ability. … He has really taken off.”
If that proves to be true, look for Etta-Tawo to seriously challenge several receiving records at Syracuse. He already has 706 yards after four weeks, which means that with eight games to go, he needs just 425 additional receiving yards to break Marvin Harrison’s single-season record.
At his current pace, Etta-Tawo could break that in two or three weeks. Through four games, he’s also more than halfway towards breaking the program’s single-season records for catches and touchdown receptions.
Being a graduate transfer, he won’t have a shot at any career records (probably not anyway), but no game and season receiving records are safe. Look for Etta-Tawo to be the first of many Orange players to rewrite the school offensive record book under Babers’ fast-paced offensive system.