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SPORTS LIBRARY, Clemson, football

The Clemson Tigers travel to Syracuse on Sept. 14 for a week 3 game. We continue previewing the Tigers' 12 opponents with a look at the Orange.

Head coach

Dino Babers enters his fourth season as the head coach of the Orange, and his offensive acumen has been on display in the first three.

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In 2018, Babers won American Football Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year honors for the third time in his seven seasons as a head coach. Babers guided the Orange to their first 10-win season since 2001 and a No. 15 ranking in the final AP Top 25 and Amway Coaches polls after being picked last in the ACC during the preseason.

He directed an offense that ranked 11th nationally in scoring (40.2 points per game) and set the program record with 523 points last year. The Orange topped 50 points, a school record, five times and scored 40-plus points in eight out of 13 games.

Orange on offense

The Orange's offensive philosophy, which makes normal hurry-up, no-huddle teams look like they are operating at a snail's pace, is the brainchild of Babers.

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The man tasked with orchestrating the offense is fourth-year offensive coordinator Mike Lynch. Lynch oversaw an offense that set school records for points (523) and rushing touchdowns (38) in 2018. Lynch was the Orange's co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 2016-17. Since his arrival, Syracuse has posted three of the top four total offensive figures in team history, including 6,031 yards (No. 2) last season.

The challenge for quarterback coach Kirk Martin’s group is to replace the production of Eric Dungey, who ended his career as one of the most statistically accomplished players in ACC history. In 2018, Dungey accounted for 60% of Syracuse’s total yards and 33 of its 60 offensive touchdowns.

The Orange on defense

The Orange's defense is led by fourth-year coordinator Brian Ward.

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Ward led a defense that ranked in the top 10 nationally in five categories and recorded a school-record 43 sacks in 2018. He also coached all-ACC linebacker Ryan Guthrie, who led the league last year with 107 tackles. Since 2016, four Ward pupils (Guthrie, Zaire Franklin, Parris Bennett, Kielan Whitner) have recorded 100-tackle seasons.

This season, the defense should be one of Ward's best since arriving in Syracuse, as his squad returns seven starters from last year's team.

The early line

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The Tigers travel to Syracuse, N.Y., the site of their last regular season loss in 2017, as the Orange's homecoming opponent. But the oddsmakers still feel that despite the challenge of playing in the Carrier Dome on a homecoming weekend, the Tigers are clearly the better team. Clemson is an 18-point favorite.

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io

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