When Dino Babers took the head coaching job at Syracuse, the conversation among local media and the fan base immediately turned to his potent offense. Babers has a reputation as a great offensive coach who turns programs around with an up-tempo style of play that yields yards and points in bunches.
The talk from players and coaches only furthered that narrative.
Watching the spring game gave a glimpse into just how fast Babers' offense wants to go. The question is, how does this impact the defense?
Defensive end Jake Pickard says early on, there was a big adjustment for the players.
"Spring ball was rough," Pickard said via Syracuse Athletics' YouTube page. "We were not adjusted to this type of tempo. Coach E and coach Sobes, they got us right. The conditioning we did over these past 12 weeks and over the summer, I can say that I've never felt faster and more in shape in my life. Their conditioning, their strength, their working of our bodies and keeping us healthy, that adjustment, we can tell.
"Now when we got out there, we're 10 plays deep in a row and we still got something in the tank. Where as in the spring, it was four plays and people were gassed. This new conditioning has really helped us a program."
The strength and conditioning program has allowed the defense to keep up with that offensive tempo. But it still makes practice a challenge. In order for the offense to become proficient playing at a torrid pace, they have to practice at a torrid pace.
That means the defense has to do the same. While that may prove difficult during training camp, Pickard believes there will be long-term benefits.
"We've got to guard it play after play after play," Pickard said. "We need to get the call in play after play after play. We need to make our adjustments, make our checks. And we're doing all this in the time the offense is snap, snap, snap.
"So when we face a regular tempo team, we're going to be like 'OK we're ready, we've got the call, we got this.' Now we can really dissect the offense and have time. If we're going to be able to play at our best and do what we need to do against tempo like this, any tempo slower than this is just going to be easier and easier and easier."
Syracuse opens their season on Friday, September 2nd against Colgate.