Countdown to Camp 2017

Countdown to Camp: Eric Dungey has shown he can lead Syracuse’s offense, but can he do it for a full season?

Jessica Sheldon | Staff Photographer

The junior quarterback was one of the top passers in the country last year, but he missed the last three games of the season in 2016.

Syracuse football’s training camp begins July 30. Every day leading up to camp, The Daily Orange’s football beat writers will take a look at some of the upcoming season’s most pressing storylines, players and position battles. Read more on the Countdown to Camp here.

For the second straight offseason, the questions surrounding Eric Dungey have nothing to do with his play.

The junior quarterback averaged 297.7 passing yards per game and had 293 rushing yards for the season. He accounted for 21 touchdowns. Yet Dungey missed considerable time. For the second straight year, he missed the last three games of the season due to “upper-body injury.”

Dungey took a step forward last year as a quarterback despite learning a new system from the year prior. His second year in Dino Babers up-tempo offense should help him solidify his spot in the upper echelon of Atlantic Coast Conference quarterbacks. The one hurdle he’ll have to overcome to get there is his health.

Before last season, Dungey pledged to try to stay in the pocket more. In the second game of the season against Louisville, he tried hurdling a defender and got flipped over in the process. After the upset victory over Virginia Tech in mid-October, Babers’ said the offense needed Dungey’s running ability.

“At certain times, we’re willing to put him at risk,” Babers said at the postgame press conference, pausing before saying risk. “I would love to play a game where our quarterback never has to run the ball. I’d love to play a game where our quarterback never gets touched. And I have played games like that. But right now, at this time … we have to be calculated and we need his legs in our offense.”

sheldon

Jessica Sheldon | Staff Photographer

The SU offense was much more dynamic with Dungey running, especially because there wasn’t much production from the running backs. With two big receiving weapons next year, and a still-young offensive line, it appears Dungey’s legs will still need to be a crucial component of the SU attack.

There are some positives. For the second straight year, Dungey bulked up in the offseason before spring ball. And last year, he more often slid and ran out of bounds to avoid hits than he did in 2015. He will need to continue to do that consistently.

But he missed the end of each of the past two seasons after taking shots to the head. Should the hits keep piling up, Dungey’s career could be in jeopardy.

He seems poised to play at a high level this season. Based on his past, though, it’s unclear if he’ll be available for all of it.

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