- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

It’s been nearly three weeks since Syracuse freshman quarterback Eric Dungey was knocked out of a game with a head injury and more than a month since hybrid back Ervin Philips departed with a knee injury.

Both are practicing again and slated to start as the Orange (3-1) prepare to travel to South Florida (1-3) on their first road trip of the season, and that’s significant coming off a bye week.

“He’s looked really sharp,” Syracuse offensive coordinator Tim Lester said of Dungey. “He has a lot of energy in the huddle. Obviously, his legs are fresh; his arm is fresh. It’s been fun. He’s kind of picked up where he left off.”

A junior college transfer who took over in the season opener for injured senior Terrel Hunt, Dungey has excelled beyond anyone’s expectations. He does not have enough pass attempts to qualify, but if he did he would rank third nationally in pass efficiency (204.03). Dungey is 21 of 36 for 428 yards and five touchdowns passing with zero turnovers and has rushed for 106 yards and one score.

Dungey’s last play came in the second quarter of an overtime victory over Central Michigan and resulted in a touchdown, but he was hammered on a helmet-to-helmet hit and hasn’t played since. Philips caught Dungey’s first two touchdown passes of his Syracuse career in the Orange’s 47-0 victory over Rhode Island in the opener.



Together again, they can only help a team striving to make a bowl after a miserable 3-9 season in 2014.

“It’s been fun having them back,” Lester said. “There’s a lot of energy, and I think the guys are excited to have them back. There’s been a lot of good juice in practice this week. We feel like we’re healthy and hopefully we can execute at a higher level than we’ve been.”

Philips has excelled in his new role as the hybrid back in Lester’s offense, and he’s eager to see if he can recapture the chemistry he developed with Dungey in the opener.

“Eric is one the important parts of the offense,” Philips said. “He’s probably THE most important. Now that we have him and me back, I feel we’re at full health and we’re just ready to go. I know we put up a lot of points in the first week, and we expect the same thing to happen, putting up points.”

Including six redshirts, 21 freshmen made their college debuts for Syracuse in the season opener. The Orange ranked fourth nationally, just behind Clemson’s nation-leading 27 freshmen who made their debuts.

Now the young Orange are facing life on the road for the first time.

“We tell the freshmen that it’s just football at the end of the day,” sophomore receiver Steve Ishmael said. “It’s just going to be a different environment. All of us got comfortable with the first four games at home, but we tell them we go in with the same mindset - just play football.”

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AP freelancer Mark Frank contributed to this report.

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