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Social Distance: Dino Babers on coaching Jimmy G

In an appearance with Bud Elliott for the 247Sports Social Distance Series, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers discussed a number of topics. One of the first things he got into was coaching Jimmy Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois, a member of the FCS’ Ohio Valley Conference. He was the head coach there from 2012-13.

“Jimmy threw about five passes on the very first day of spring ball and I’m standing there saying, ‘this guy shouldn’t be here,’” Babers said. And the guy who said that said “That’s what I said! The other guy is better!’ And I said I didn’t say that. I just said he shouldn’t be here. There’s about 40 Division I coaches that should get fired. There’s no way this guy should be at the I-AA level. I had just left RGIII at Baylor and he had just won the Heisman. I’m sitting there saying ‘This guy shouldn’t be at this level.’”

Babers departed EIU for Bowling Green in 2014, where he led the Falcons to an 18-9 record over two seasons.

When Babers led Syracuse to a 10-3 record in his third season in 2018, he became one of the hottest names in the coaching ranks. It was the first time the Orange won 10 games since the 2001 season when they competed in the Big East. The year was capped off with a win in the Camping World Bowl over West Virginia.

Syracuse, however, disappointed in 2019. The Orange posted a 5-7 record. First-year starter Tommy Devito struggled at times, but Babers and staff are hoping he can improve.

“I saw him this morning on video because we have to stay away from those guys because of COVID-19,” Babers said. “He hit 365 [pounds] for two [reps on the bench press]. I’m sitting here going ‘that’s a lot of muscle,’ Now, stop lifting so much and just throw the ball a little bit more. I’ll tell you what, he’s really changed his body, he’s really slowing up and getting his body ready to take those shots and be the leader that we want.”

Babers even said he recommended a movie to his quarterback during quarantine that he ‘had to watch.’

“Ford vs. Ferrari,” Babers said. “I said I want you to run our offense the way that guy drove that Ford. I want you to know everything about that car the way he knows everything about that car. Now, I didn’t tell him at the end of the move that the guy crashed and died — I didn’t tell him that part. But the first hour and 58 minutes of the movie was big time, and we expect big time things out of him.”

In 12 games during his redshirt sophomore season, Devito completed 213-of-337 passes (63.2 percent) for 2,360 yards. He threw 19 touchdowns to five interceptions.

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