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Quarterbacks on shuffle as Syracuse Orange visit Ohio Bobcats

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

When Syracuse faces Ohio on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio, fans would be wise to keep their roster sheets handy.

Both Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and Ohio’s Tim Albin have said they plan on playing more than one quarterback in the nonconference matchup.

For Babers, redshirt junior Tommy DeVito will start his third straight season opener for the Orange, but sophomore Garrett Shrader (a Mississippi State transfer) will also see the field.

“Somebody has to run out there first,” Babers said. “But I think both of those guys will be in the game enough that they’ll be able to show what they can do.”

Albin, 55, is making his debut as a Division I head coach. Since 2005 he had served as Ohio’s offensive coordinator under former head coach Frank Solich and was elevated after Solich announced his retirement July 14.

Albin said he’ll also likely use two quarterbacks in the opener. Redshirt freshman Kurtis Rourke is set as the starter, while UNLV transfer Armani Rogers will also likely get work.

“Both will play at some point in time,” Albin said.

Both teams are coming off trying seasons in 2020. The Bobcats were 2-1 and finished in the nation’s top 25 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, but saw half of their six-game schedule wiped out due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. The cancellations left them out of the Mid-American title chase.

“We’ll be ready, our guys are ready to get after it,” Albin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Ohio averaged 216.7 yards rushing per game and RB De’Montre Tuggle led the way with 7.6 yards per carry, 134.3 per game, and accounted for seven scores. Stopping the run will be a primary concern for the Orange, who gave up 32.7 points and 209.2 rushing yards per game last season.

“They remind me of old Nebraska without the option,” Babers said. “They understand the scheme. There is no hesitation when they’re going somewhere. It’s old-school football. I can appreciate that.”

Syracuse was a miserable 1-10 last fall and Babers has had back-to-back losing seasons heading into his sixth with the program. DeVito (593 passing yards, four TDs) and Shrader will work behind an offensive line returning seven players with starting experience.

Syracuse is a slight favorite coming in and is 2-0 all-time against Ohio, but the two teams haven’t played since 1921. The Bobcats haven’t knocked off an ACC opponent since 2005, when they topped visiting Pitt in overtime in Solich’s first home game at OU.

–Field Level Media