Syracuse University football coach Dino Babers carried through on predetermined plans to play two quarterbacks, but neither was able to spark SU’s offense in a 17-7 setback against Rutgers on Saturday in the Carrier Dome.
Tommy DeVito made his second straight start and finished 15 of 26 passing for 149 yards. Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader made his Dome debut and guided the final three series of the first half, finishing 4-for-6 for 42 yards.
DeVito was sacked five times and finished with 13 net rushing yards on nine attempts, while Shrader lost six net yards on four rushes, including one sack.
Babers offered little details on plans for the position afterward, only answering a direct question that he decided on inserting Shrader prior to the game.
DeVito returned and played the entire second half, providing the lone scoring spark by connecting with Taj Harris on a deep 51-yard pass to set up a Sean Tucker 24-yard touchdown run on the next play, which tied the game at 7-7 with five minutes and 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
DeVito was 8-for-10 for 69 yards while taking one sack and posted a QBR above 155 when he was removed in the first half.
“I knew it was coming, it was not a surprise to me,” DeVito said afterward. “When my jersey is called, I just have to go out there and play.”
Babers had spoke of playing both DeVito and Shrader under center late in preseason training camp, claiming that each had earned time after their battle for the starting spot.
DeVito started and played the duration with the first-team offense in SU’s 29-9 victory at Ohio in the season opener, completing 11 of 17 passes for 92 yards while adding 49 net rushing yards on seven carries, highlighted by a six-yard touchdown run.
Shrader saw his lone action on the final drive, completing his only pass attempt for eight yards while adding an eight-yard rush.
In Saturday’s loss to Rutgers, the Orange finished with just 258 yards of total offense and converted only 2 of 14 third-down chances. They have yet to score on a passing touchdown through the first two games.
“We need to score points on offense, clearly, whether it’s the run game or the pass game,” DeVito said. “We’re not as down as we could have been, but the run game did not get going as it should have, and the pass game did not get going either.”
WILLIAMS TOPS INJURY CONCERNS
Star SU cornerback Garrett Williams left with an apparent leg injury in the second half and did not return. He was on the sidelines in uniform for the remainder.
“I’m not going to talk about Garrett and his status, because that would be too much of an advantage for our next opponent,” Babers said afterward. “But obviously, he wasn’t in the game, it’s something that we need to deal with.”
Williams ranked seventh in the FBS and topped the ACC with 12 passes defended last year, and he also led all ACC cornerbacks with 5.8 tackles per game.
SU fullback Chris Elmore was on the sideline but inactive for the second straight game. Babers declined to elaborate on his absence earlier this week, citing federal privacy laws, but expects him back this season.
Returning senior defensive tackle McKinley Williams made his season debut and recorded a sack, while junior offensive lineman Dakota Davis was in uniform but did not play for the second straight game after missing most of preseason camp due to injury.
SERVAIS SETS STARTS RECORD
Senior offensive tackle Airon Servais made his 50th straight start for the Orange on Saturday, establishing a program record.
He entered tied with former quarterback Donovan McNabb for the most overall starts for SU at 49, and had made the most consecutive starts for the program since 2000.