With Ryan Nassib now a member of the New York Giants, the leader under center for Syracuse is an unknown. Scott Shafer continues to watch Terrel Hunt, Charley Loeb and John Kinder compete for the starting role, but Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen still awaits his opportunity.
George McDonald has talent to work with in Hunt, Loeb, and Kinder. Many think once Allen is on campus he’ll beat the other three easily because of the competition he saw regularly in practice while a member of the top ranked Sooners.
But it’s far from an inevitability Allen will waltz in and win the job. Coming out of spring ball, Hunt has a lot going for him. Here’s a Fizz Five Reasons why Hunt has the inside track to be the man under center August 31 against Penn State.
- His performance in the Spring Game
Hunt was very good in the Spring Game. He used every part of the field in leading the offense, and throwing for two scores. This spring has been a learning experience for Hunt, and after the game he said if he’s the current frontrunner, he wants to keep it going. Hunt showed that he can throw an accurate deep ball (something Nassib struggled with every so often), which should make G-Mac excited.
- Trusting Jarrod West
He proved he can use West as one of his go-to receivers. West caught six passes for 82 yards and the two touchdowns in the Spring Game. With an offense that will likely focus on the depth at running back, a quarterback’s solid relationship with a receiver can go a long way. The Spring Game was a good opportunity to see how Hunt and even the rest of the quarterbacks would work with the receivers they were given. Early on in spring ball, Hunt said he had already built a comfort level with West. Nassib and Alec Lemon built a terrific relationship, but now both are gone. Who steps into those two slots?
- Loeb and Kinder’s struggles
Even if Hunt’s Spring Game and practices weren’t strong, Loeb and Kinder have brought little to the table. Loeb was Nassib’s backup for three years and as he enters his senior season, he should be the front runner. But he threw eight passes for just nine yards inside the Dome. He hasn’t looked or appeared comfortable nor confident in himself. Even Kinder looks a little better than Loeb. Kinder threw a 14-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. But Kinder also lacks accuracy on his passes, and often sprays his throws. He also has struggled with decision-making over his career at SU. Hunt has talked about how much he enjoys Shafer’s challenge to the quarterbacks to find a leader, and how he wants a player to grab the job. Embracing the competition is key.
- Shafer will pick the best option no matter seniority
Allen isn’t necessarily going to be the man just because he’s one and done. Shafer will go with whoever gives the Orange the best chance to win in its first year in the ACC. He won’t merely pick Loeb because he’s waited his turn. If Hunt, a rising junior, is the best option Shafer has he get the nod at Metlife Stadium. Hunt also brings an athleticism neither Allen nor Loeb have. The pistol and read-option have become huge weapons in college football. If McDonald wants a sub-package within his offense with those plays, Hunt could run them.
- Hunt has the head start
There’s something to be said for being the lead dog on the sled. Coming out of the Spring Game, Hunt is that. He’s had a taste of being the #1, and already has a handle on the SU playbook. He’s been within the program for a few years, and has a head start on Allen. Loeb needs to find more confidence. Kinder must polish up his game. And Allen needs to learn the offense. The competition will be intense this summer, but right now Hunt has to like where he’s positioned.
Posted: Austin Pollack