Babers: Wide receiver Steve Ishmael ‘totally bought into’ the system, and now he’s taken off

first_imgOne thousand six-hundred twenty-one FBS football players have caught a pass in 2017. None of them have caught as many as Steve Ishmael. Syracuse’s (2-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) senior wide receiver has seen a rebirth on the outside of SU’s offensive attack. The success for Ishmael comes a season after he rode shotgun to graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo, whose 94 receptions set a Syracuse single-season record. Ishmael, placed on the Biletnikoff Award watch list last week for the nation’s best receiver, is on pace to best that mark. Syracuse head coach Dino Babers isn’t surprised. It’s not unusual for someone in his program to perform OK and then suddenly have a “breakout year,” he said on Wednesday’s ACC teleconference.“Any time there’s a changeover in coaching staff and a changeover in techniques and fundamentals and schemes, sometimes kids do them but they’re not totally bought in,” Babers said. “The thing I love about Ish is that he’s totally bought into what we are trying to do. He’s really changed his body and changed his attitude from last year to this year.”The changes have developed Ishmael into the nation’s leading pass-catcher with 51 receptions for 632 yards, both of which are already good for career highs. He’s surpassed 115 yards every game. Last week his catches dropped to six, but he still amassed 120 yards.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIshmael has scored two touchdowns, and one got called back last week on an illegal formation penalty that had nothing to do with his side of the field. He scored seven times his sophomore season before finding the end zone just once last year. Babers doesn’t care.“He’s doing his part,” Babers said. “I think the touchdowns will come. You don’t judge your players by whether they get a touchdown or not.”Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi said on the teleconference that his team will have its “hands full” in limiting Ishmael and slot receiver Erv Philips. “One’s a big physical go-get-the-ball, vertical type of guy in Steve,” Narduzzi said. “ … (Philips) is a guy who understands coverage and leverage. They give him a lot of freedom to run option routes underneath … He’s electric. he’s got great hands. He’s got great speed.”The duo leads Syracuse into it’s Saturday matchup with Pitt at the Carrier Dome. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m.Other notes from the teleconference:Babers opened by saying his team “desperately needs a win” before a follow up question invoked a reply that SU needs to take it “one game at a time.”Babers used last week’s opponent, N.C. State, as a model timeline for what the Syracuse program could look like four or five years down the line. “It’s going to be a while before we get our program up and running,” he said.Narduzzi said he’d like to get junior wide receiver Quadree Henderson, who has eight catches for 121 yards on the season, more involved downfield. “Maybe this is his week,” Narduzzi said. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on October 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm Contact: [email protected] | @jtblosslast_img read more