Changing of the Guard: Why Syracuse’s Pistol Can Still Work

Breaking down quarterbacks coach Tim Lester’s pistol offense and how Terrel Hunt will make it work.

Over the summer, Syracuse fans were excited when they heard the idea of a flashy pistol offense being instituted into the playbook this season. Fast-forward three months, and now most of ‘Cuse Nation is clamoring to rip it up. The numbers don’t lie that SU’s offense is less productive through two games than a year ago. In 2012, the Orange gained 1,051 total yards, as opposed to just 694 this fall. But there is still a ton of hope for the Orange’s new offense that was pioneered a few years ago at Nevada with Colin Kaepernick.

Syracuse didn’t run the pistol with head coach Doug Marrone. In addition to the Orange’s other offensive formations, like the option read and the spread, the pistol was an extra brunt for quarterbacks Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen to quickly learn during the summer. Sophomore Hunt, who was here a season ago—as opposed to Allen—told the Fizz that this year’s playbook is bigger, and might be a little more confusing.

“We were running a little bit too many plays, it was just too complicated—well, not really complicated, but we weren’t maximizing on our opportunities. Now we picked up the tempo, now we’re going real fast kind of like last year, having only a few plays, but mastering the plays that we have and executing them very well.”

It seems like after two weeks of struggles moving the football against Penn State and Northwestern, the SU coaches may try and simplify things heading forward. WR Ashton Broyld said that it felt like SU was running “1,000 plays” against PSU, compared to, say, a dozen in 2012. He remarked to the Fizz that SU was almost “experimenting” with the pistol in Game 1 at Metlife.

That’s not very reassuring.

But fear not. Hunt can save the pistol, which shouldn’t be thrown into the dumpster yet. He’s a bit faster than Allen, and more of a threat to run, which is what you need. You can’t have an immobile QB running the pistol; that just eliminates an option that the defense has to game plan for.

Hunt truly likes running in the shotgun and the pistol. He did it almost exclusively while at Christ the King HS in Queens, NY. It fits his style.

“This year’s playbook is more on the quarterback with the reads, and personally I think this year’s offense is easier because it’s, ‘get that guy the ball at this moment’ and that’s it.”

Quarterbacks coach Tim Lester brought the pistol with him from Elmhurst College right outside of the Windy City to the Salt City. He’s been running it for the last few years. If there is one man to guide Hunt in the right direction, it has to be Lester.

“That’s all we ran. Yeah, I was a pistol guy. We were exclusively pistol. So many teams when you go [shotgun], they set their entire defense towards which side the RB is on because they know the way the zone read is going. The pistol, you can run anything, anywhere.”

And SU’s running backs, Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, have said that it’s easier to read where they need to run in the pistol as opposed to lining up on the quarterback’s hip. When running backs coach Andre Reed and OC George McDonald jumped on board last spring, Lester unleashed his offense, which featured a 2,000 yard tailback in 2012. Granted, that’s Division III. But now after a few shaky weeks, everyone is on board according, to Lester.

“When we brought it in, they weren’t sure if they liked it, now Jerome [Smith] loves it, Terrel [Hunt] loves it, and it let’s the running back be down hill, they love their shoulders square to the line of scrimmage as opposed to sideways.”

There’s no need to trade in the car yet. Lester and company has to give Hunt the keys to the pistol.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald


15 Comments on this Post

  1. I hope the pistol offense works against Clemson this week.

    Terry the game is a 3:30 pm game. The fans ought to come out in bunches for this game. Tailgating will start at 10:00 am or sooner over at Manley if your interested. Place ought to be packed. Looking forwards to a great weekend.

  2. Cuse Don't Luse

    I have a good feeling about Clemson idk why i feel like this will be are surprise entry to the ACC

  3. If Clemson leaves the Dome with a loss it will be more than mere surprise. It would be in line with Nebraska miracle of 1984. IMO this would be far more unlikely but hoped for. The program implications now are far more potentially beneficial for the coaching staff and team going forward.

  4. Ron,Paramus Catholic HS,NJ beat Ohio’s storied Cleveland St Ignatius 44-10 in NJHS out of state action!!

  5. Ron/Russ and anyone else Clemson looked great and to a point could’ve played better than they did. WF really is about what SU is?? NCS is much better. Miami is great and FSU stumbled, but a great team always comes back and FSU did. BC looked good too as well as Pitt! So 6-6 is going to be the best with 5 wins probable!! Clemson as of now will tear apart SU’s DB’s/S’s as well-no doubt. SU should contain Clemson’s RBs, but through the air SU should get killed. At least on paper!!

    Ron will attend the Clemson game with the whole family and that’s the in-laws to!! If the weather is good we’ll tailgate, but a niece is attending the Med School at SU so we might just park it there with her sisters/brothers of medicine and their families tailgate. Not sure where, but only a few blocks away from the DOME, I hear. Great for Grandma and youngsters, but they never think of pop-pops!! LOL!! But I also hear there are Clemson Alums going to be there and they have heard about my strong feelings about CUSE football. I won’t steer them wrong!! Really can’t wait to meet them!!

    Don’t ever forget the abused kids of PSU!!

  6. @Russell Stugots,

    Was that game on TV over the weekend? If it was how am I going to find that information?

  7. No Ron not upstate anyways but I seen the score in NJ newspapers and in MSG varsity online!If you like HS Varsity and are interested in following NYC/NJ HS football MSGVarsity and Mike Quick are must reads!Lots of scores,stats and recruiting news!

  8. No one in NY/NJ covers HS sports of all kinds like Mike Quick “the guru” right down to girls hoops!!Best HS coverage anywhere that I know of!

  9. @Terry,your not far off but I’ll stick with my 7-5 prediction!We’ll knock off someone no one expects us too!Could it be Clemson?Im not sure but it would give us and the base a much needed boost(perception,recruiting)after the Drew Allen debacle/experiement!

  10. @Russell Stugots;

    Thanks Russ,I”ll give Mike Quick a try.

  11. Ron,about RE at MD,I just noticed your comment a few threads back.U really didn’t know that the Md team had a mini-mutiny with many transfering out and NO decent recruits would come in until they(Md AD)were forced to swallow their pride and rehire a blackballed Mike Locksley to get recruits to consider them again?Not just the team but the whole fanbase wanted him canned 1 year after he signed his contract!!I’ve been posting info on here for a year or so about that here!Locksley can’t coach but he’s a recruiter on par with Schiano at least in the Delmarva area and w/o his touch RE would have been gone last year with only the recruiting of ML saving his hide!Malone is pretty in tune with eastcoast FB and I’m sure he’s aware of the gist of what I’m now repeating though it seems like eons ago now that MD improved and RE’s seat cooled off.Ha Ha..Heck,everyone at UConn knows he’s a crummy recruiter but finds diamonds in the rough!He’s good at developing unrated and 2* talent though!

  12. Ron,St.Joes “Montvale”,NJ crushed highly touted Bergen Catholic,”Oradell”,NJ 44-17 last weekend!!Man Ron I’m telling ya theres great HS FB in NJ and we need to get some of the talent soon!I think national power Don Bosco got whopped by DePaul Catholic last weekend too….WOW!!I saw somewhere NJ HS FB beat out of state powers 14-3 this year!14 victories to only 3 losses!Texas,Fla,Ohio,Pa,Cal ..bring em on!!It seems HSFB is GROWING better in NJ lately or maybe were just getting more press?Im not exactly sure of all the #s but Im not far off!

  13. @Russell Stugots;

    I have a funny feeling about recruiting this year. It’s just to quiet. We both said that we felt we were going to get a couple of big fish(recruits)when all was said and done.

    I honestly believe that Jason Cabinda out of NJ committing to Syracuse is going to open the doors to NJ. We haven’t heard a thing from any of those recruits from Georgia,Florida,Illinois or Maryland yet. What’s taking them so long to figure out where they want to go play football?

  14. Ladies might pack a pink pistol, but not an AK-47.Ah so the many-many women I serevd with in the Marines aren’t ladies?I’m inclined to agree, in some cases. But never to their faces.

  15. Great common sense here. Wish I’d thought of that.

Comments have been disabled.