New Syracuse football head coach Dino Babers is known as an offensive guy. An innovative offensive mind who is able to get his units to put up huge numbers and a lot of points. That reputation is well earned given his track record as a head coach and as an accomplished assistant.
But what about the defensive side of the ball? Believe or not, Babers places just as much importance on defense as he does on offense. His background of a player has instilled that within him.
“I played four straight years in college,” Babers said. “Three of those years I played on defense. Three of the four years I played on defense, I played four different positions in college. I started four different positions each year. The whole key to everything is defense."
Over the past several years, Syracuse has utilized an aggressive, blitzing style of defense. One predicated on pressure and confusion. That system has worked well for the most part.
Will coach Babers utilize a similar strategy or will there be a complete overhaul? That answer will be largely determined by his assessment of the roster during spring football.
"Now there’s two styles of defense," Babers said. "There’s a very aggressive style that you can play, or you can play more of a Tampa two, sit back, Chicago Bears type defense where you’re playing a lot of zone and you let your front four get after people. You have to find out if you’ve got the front four to get after people to run that style. If you don’t have the front four to get after people, then you have to bring extra players.
"Pittsburgh Steelers zone blitzes where you can get after that quarterback and make him unsettled and get him off his mark. So it comes down to what kind of personnel you’ve got in the program. What kind of offenses that we’re going to have to go against to have an opportunity to win and see what fits the best.”