Dino Babers, Game of Thrones, Mike Tyson, the 1972 Dolphins and Trevor Lawrence


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Dino Babers didn't hold back in his praise of Clemson Monday
Dino Babers didn't hold back in his praise of Clemson Monday

The undefeated Miami Dolphins of 1972. Mike Tyson. Game of Thrones.

Syracuse head coach Dino Babers was effusive in his praise of No. 1 Clemson during his Monday press conference. The Orange host the Tigers Saturday at 7:30 in a game televised by ABC, and Babers was asked about his view on Clemson’s 15-0 run a season ago.

“I look at that team, and I think about the Miami Dolphins going undefeated in the National Football League and it's only been done once. You always get a team that gets close, but something happens,” Babers said. “They might get a Super Bowl ring, but something always happens. They suffer a loss. They don't go undefeated. What they did, go undefeated, was extremely impressive. We've had other college football teams go undefeated before, but to me, that is a heck of an accomplishment and now they are on their second run with an opportunity to do it again. I am not quite sure I have ever seen a team do it twice back to back. It has been very impressive and they have a high statistical probability to do it again.”

Babers says the fact that Clemson can reach the mountaintop is proof that any program can achieve those heights.

“I think the biggest thing is where they came from. Alabama has been Alabama for a long time. Ohio State has been Ohio State for a long time,” he said. “If I am not mistaken, in the last 10 to 15 years, Clemson wasn't like that. South Carolina was better than Clemson. And now all of a sudden all people do is talk about Clemson in that state. When you look at what's happened since day one since he got there and what he does now is truly amazing.”

Babers said while Clemson is young defensively, the offense is even more dangerous than a year ago.

“I think we have a big test. What we just went through was big, and now we have another opportunity against the best team in the country,” Babers said. “So, we will have to see how we do. They changed up and done some things and their personnel is a lot different. I am not going to say they are a lot younger - they move around and they are extremely faster. Their defense got a lot younger and their offense got a lot older, so there goes that balance once again. They could really get after you defensively, not that they still can't, but they are so good on offense now that you have a limited time in the game to get them and if you don't keep pace with that offense the game is over.

“You have to hit them just right. It's Buster Douglas versus Mike Tyson. If you don't hit them with the uppercut, you are going to get knocked out. I haven't seen any team be able to do it. I saw what they did to Alabama and they have a lot more coaches and a lot more things than we have and they were playing for a big ol' ring. I think they were both undefeated when they were playing them. So they are really, really good. You are probably seeing one of the best teams of an era.”

Babers said getting to quarterback Trevor Lawrence is difficult.

“That is kind of how he is protected. Game of Thrones - he has a castle and he has a moat and he has some dragons,” he said. “That dude is protected. You don't really get a chance unless he comes out of the pocket. Once he comes out of the pocket, he's athletic and he's fast and he might throw better on the move than he does in the pocket. He's the real deal. I hope we can put some pressure on him, but there are a lot of teams that have played them that haven't been able to do it.”

He also loves what he sees in running back Travis Etienne.

“Man, he is good. Is he good? Is he good? Wow. He is an amazing back. He's big. He's fast. He's smart. He is a really good blocker,” Babers said. “He's a good receiver. He's an NFL player in college football. He's a fantastic guy. Good person. Big, solid dude. When you think about him, all you want to do is smile and hope you have two or three just like him. Big-time player.”

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