Syracuse Football: Quarterback Coach Kirk Martin won’t get sacked in 2019

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Dino Babers of the Syracuse Orange looks over an injured Eric Dungey #2 of the Syracuse Orange during their game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Yankee Stadium on November 17, 2018 in New York, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Dino Babers of the Syracuse Orange looks over an injured Eric Dungey #2 of the Syracuse Orange during their game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Yankee Stadium on November 17, 2018 in New York, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) /

Following a tremendous 2018 with senior quarterback Eric Dungey, Syracuse football needs to let Kirk Martin groom sophomore Tommy DeVito at his own pace.

Kirk Martin becoming the quarterback coach for Syracuse football in early February 2018 was no fluke; it was a firm conviction that the program would soon reclaim national relevancy.

The question wasn’t how, rather when.

10 months later, Syracuse (10-3, 6-2 ACC) left the 2018 Camping World Bowl with 10 wins and were ranked in the AP top 25, two feats the team hadn’t seen in 17 years.

As unprecedented as the 2018 season was for the Orange, it was known to be possible by the entire program when Martin first came to Syracuse the prior February and began working with Eric Dungey.

Kirk Martin’s rich history with high-school turned FBS quarterbacks at the high school level was over 26 years in the making, and aided him in year one at Syracuse.

From 1992-2003, Martin held roles as an Assistant Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Assistant Head Coach, and Passing Game Coordinator split between five Texas High Schools (Cathedral, Riverside, Alvin, Odessa Permian, and Giddings) before being asked to do the impossible at Houston’s Manvel High School.

Two years after assuming athletic director and head coaching roles at Alpine High School, Martin

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was asked to build Manvel’s program from scratch, a task most aspiring college or pro coaches wouldn’t feel comfortable assuming.

Over the next two years, Martin and his staff assembled a Mavericks team and system ahead of their inaugural season in 2008. Over the next decade, Martin was responsible for the creation of a state powerhouse in Texas, a program that would win 108 of its first 133 games.

Martin and his storied Maverick’s teams captured eight straight playoff appearances from 2010-2017, six district titles, and a pair of state championship game appearances in 2011 and 2017, two years where he won Coach of the Year honors in Houston and the state of Texas respectively.

Martin is praised for his creation and maintaining of one of Texas’ premier high school football programs. In order to see what made him especially qualified to earn a role coaching Syracuse’s quarterbacks, look no further than the recent quarterback success at both The University of Houston and The University of Florida.

Houston’s D’Eriq King and Florida’s Kyle Trask have proven their worth in 2018 and 2019.  Trask, who only started in his freshman year, had the spotlight taken from him when King arrived and became Manvel’s starter, and broke a handful of Kyler Murray’s Texas high school records.

The Mavericks had two amazing hurlers behind center, but the dual-threat King complimented Martin’s high-octane offense better than Trask, leading the now Florida superstar to wait until the third offensive drive for his team to see the field.

King, who since 2016 has compiled more than 4,900 total yards with Houston, led the Cougars to an 8-5 record including five wins in the American Athletic Conference, which led the school to appear in the Armed Forces Bowl against Army.

As for Trask, a broken right foot diminished any opportunity to play in 2017. Last season, his opposite foot broke, and this season, Felipe Franks won the starting job out of training camp, while Trask was slotted neck-and-neck with Florida’s quarterback of the future, Emory Jones.

Three weeks into the 2019 season, a devastating ankle injury suffered by Franks opened the door for Trask, whose 2000+ yards and 19:6 touchdown-interception ratio has led Florida to a promising 8-2 record and 11th seed in the Top-25 this year.

Yes, Martin arrived in Syracuse with a resume of developing high school QBs into FBS Power 5 quarterbacks. But the hiring came before Trask and King shined at the collegiate level, reinforcing the decision made by Dino Babers and the Orange staff.

Quickly afterward, Martin would transform Dungey and Syracuse into a national powerhouse of an offense.

In his first season as coach, Dungey totaled more than 3,600 yards of offense and 33 touchdowns, the most by any Syracuse player in a season ever.

With Dungey behind center, the Orange scored a school-record 523 points and held the 11th most points per game in the country with 40.2 before reaching their 10-win mark in Orlando at the Camping World Bowl against West Virginia.

This year, the 3-6 Orange have seen drastically different products from their newest starter, Tommy DeVito. The New Jersey product has thrown for over 2,000 yards and has a 15:5 touchdown to interception ratio, but his 45.7 QBR slots him as the 100th most efficient quarterback in the country.

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Many have rightfully pinned the misfortunes of the Orange’s poor 2019 campaign on their offensive line and the recent firing of defensive coordinator Brian Ward. People aren’t taking shots at Martin, but aren’t giving him enough time to emulate his 2018 with a senior in Dungey with just a sophomore in DeVito.