first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ In Dino Babers mind, No. 22 Syracuse football is taking a test on Saturday when it opens its season at Liberty. In Babers’ analogy, he’s both administering the test and helping his pupils pass it at the same time.“Now the really cool thing is unlike a professor,” Babers said. “I can actually give them some answers during the test to make sure they have an opportunity to be successful. They miss one question, I want them to get 99. They miss two, I want them to get a 98.”But Babers spent a good amount of his first Monday press conference of the 2019 season lauding Liberty and new head coach Hugh Freeze as “the real deal” ahead of the Orange’s season opener against the Flames this weekend. The added challenge of assessing LU’s personnel capabilities and mixing that with study of Freeze’s offense at past stops has only fed into a “nervous” feeling. A “frustrating” camp riddled with injuries mixed in and Babers isn’t so sure his team is ready to ace Saturday’s test, he said.“It’s a big challenge,” Babers said, “Hugh Freeze versus our defense and we don’t have a clue what they’re going to do.” The Orange’s biggest weakness heading into Saturday is the offensive line. It returns starters in redshirt junior Airon Servais and redshirt senior Evan Adams at left tackle and left guard, respectively. SU also brings back redshirt junior Sam Heckel, who played in 25 games in two seasons, to play center. Redshirt sophomore Dakota Davis beat out competition to secure the right guard spot and most surprising, redshirt freshman Carlos Vettorello is starting at right tackle instead of graduate transfer Ryan Alexander, who is listed as Servais’ backup. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAlexander isn’t in the starting lineup yet, Babers said, mostly because of inexperience with the system and his capability to move quickly within it. Vettorello has an extra year in the system on Alexander and, according to Babers, SU is “only as fast as our slowest offensive lineman.” Babers likened Alexander to his son-in-law Koda Martin. Martin came to SU as a graduate-transfer tackle last season and Babers had to call a timeout for him during practice. “The game is going to start that way,” Babers said of the starters. “Those guys are going to play a lot of football. Again, it comes down to learning a lot of offense. Learning it and practicing it at the tempo you need to practice.”That group will be critical to helping redshirt sophomore quarterback Tommy DeVito shine in its first start behind center. DeVito has the potential to be good, Babers said, but needs to develop from game experiences. Seeing time against Western Michigan, Wagner, Florida State, North Carolina and Notre Dame last season all taught him something, Babers said, and the more games DeVito plays, the more comfortable and better he’ll become.“And as he develops those experiences, he won’t be fooled again,” Babers said of DeVito. “You fool really good quarterbacks one time. Then the second time you try to fool them with the same thing, they burn you.”Other notesSeniors Andrew Armstrong and Lakeim Williams won the starting linebacker jobs over younger players, but Babers said that freshmen Mikel Jones and Lee Kpogba, along with sophomore Juan Wallace, will play this season. Redshirt juniors Trishton Jackson and Abdul Adams, a transfer receiver and running back, respectively, are set to make their regular season debuts for the Orange after starring in the Camping World Bowl win against West Virginia. Babers was high on their outlook, noting, “It’ll be fun to see their growth in this offense.”  center_img Published on August 26, 2019 at 2:35 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Grahamlast_img