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Syracuse Football: Why Robert Anae, Jason Beck are the right hires for SU

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) /

At the end of the 2021 Syracuse football season, head coach Dino Babers relieved offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. To my knowledge, no specific reason was given but the lack of production outside of running back Sean Tucker and quarterback Garrett Shrader running the football had to contribute to the change.

Many had Coach Babers in the hot seat himself but based on his decision to hire a special teams coach and the latest hires on the offensive side, I’m left thinking Babers didn’t just grab a life preserver…he instead decided to right the whole ship on a course for a bowl game in 2022.

Babers has hired Robert Anae and Jason Beck from Virginia to help take charge of the offense, according to media reports. Both coaches became available as Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall decided to resign after six seasons there.

Why I’m excited about the new offensive coaching hires at Syracuse football.

Speculation had been rampant for a couple of weeks but the word was that the UVA coaches were awaiting a Virginia appearance in the Fenway Bowl that now has been canceled due to COVID issues in the program.

Now with these hires, along with the hire of veteran special teams coach Bob Ligashesky, this Orange fan is encouraged for the future of the program. Coach Ligashesky has an extensive resume including as a coach on the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl staff.

This move was also possibly enough to convince former Lou Groza winner and perhaps the most accurate kicker in Syracuse football history, Andre Szmyt, to return for another campaign.

And now you add in Anae and Beck to help coach Tucker, Shrader, a young receiving corps and a returning Chris Elmore, and I believe this offense could be equally balanced and as potent as their defensive counterparts.

Both coaches have experience coaching dual-threat quarterbacks (which current projected starter Shrader is considered to be) and are coming off a season where Virginia had over 4,000 yards passing, as compared to Syracuse football, which had less than 2,000.

Making this decision now will likely give this staff not only plenty of opportunities to get to know the players currently on the roster, but also to get to know and work with offensive line coordinator Mike Schmidt.

This also will allow them to work together to target offensive players in the portal and recruiting that will work to their styles. Spring practices will be important to implement any changes and get reps to work on improving an offense that at times over the last couple of seasons felt like it was lacking.

This fan personally loves the recent hires because in my eyes, these are coaches who will make this team better. They have impressive track records of success and bring with them respect at this level including producing NFL quarterbacks like Kurt Benkert (Green Bay Packers) and Bryce Perkins (LA Rams).

And while many disgruntled fans like to point to Coach Babers as a “MAC coach,” Beck and Anae both have spent the last nine seasons under Coach Mendenhall at Virginia and BYU before that. These hires will match the firepower of the Virginia offense plus an early Heisman contender in Tucker.

Then you have a Syracuse football defense guided by third-year coach Tony White and led by Garrett Williams, Duce Chesnut and Mikel Jones, who will challenge opposing passing games and mobile quarterbacks alike.

These are the hires I believe were needed and will pay dividends not only this season but for the future of the program. They’ll make the quarterback room stronger, hopefully open up the offense more and give Coach Babers the confidence to push hard and possibly even have faith that on 4th down, this team is in good hands whether they kick, punt or go for it. It’s only December 2021 but I’m genuinely excited to see this team take the field in the fall of 2022.

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