We expected Syracuse to get Scott Shafer his first career win Saturday, but not this easily. The Orange shut out an opponent for the first time since 2005 (vs. Buffalo) and sent the Seahawks flocking with a 54-0 beat down inside the Dome. SU’s offense ignited once sophomore Terrel Hunt entered on the fourth series. He led the Orange to five first half touchdown drives. The last time SU scored 50 points was back in 2002 against Virginia Tech, a game that took three overtimes. But let’s remember, it’s only Wagner. Still this was an impressive performance. The five biggest takeaways from Saturday’s game:
- Hunt dominated, unquestionably the starter
Dating back to last Saturday’s loss to Northwestern, Hunt has coordinated seven offensive drives and converted six touchdowns. After the game, he told the press he kept the guys loose and joked with them a bit. Hunt said he “maximized his opportunity,” and his efficiency certainly proves that. On 3rd downs, he was six for six at the end of the 1st half. He finished with 265 yards passing with 3 touchdown passes to a slew of different receivers. When asked about his relationship going forward with Drew Allen, Hunt recognized it’s about the team:
“It’s a team effort. It has nothing to do with one guy. When you’re the quarterback you’re supposed to be the leader. You can’t win with just one guy. You have to win with eleven. I’m going to keep pushing him, and he’s going to keep pushing me. That’s what competition is.”
His leadership was obvious from the get-go. Jarrod West and Jerome Smith admitted things started to click once Hunt entered. West said “we just started making plays,” while Rome differentiated the two QBs, saying Hunt was “softer spoken,” while Drew “gets on you.” If you go back to the Spring Game the relationships offensive personnel have with Hunt seem stronger than Allen. Both players worked pretty much equally with the first team throughout camp. Going forward into Tulane, Shafer hinted its Hunt’s job.
“I feel great about him. I think he’s on a high. He gives us a great chance to win. I was really proud of the way he moved around the pocket and made plays with his feet. I think Terrel will be ready to start this thing off. I’ll be surprised if I feel differently…”
- Where does this leave Drew Allen?
“I’d have a hard time thinking any different. He [Hunt] played great and I’m excited for him. But we have another game, another quarter, [and] every snap counts. We are going to continue to compete to put the best guys on the football field. You’ve got two Big 10 teams Drew went up against. I don’t want us to get all down on Drew Allen because I believe in that kid as well.”
Shafer said he believes SU can win with both quarterbacks. He’d do his “due diligence and go back to watch every snap to put the best product on the field.” Perhaps Allen gets some action against the Green Wave, but expect Hunt to roll as the starter.
- West emerges on day he receives sad news
The junior wide out found out Sunday morning his grandfather passed away. In his honor, West put on a show. He caught five balls for 147 yards. Hunt threw 65-yard deep ball in the 3rd quarter to allow West to reach the end zone and live up to his pre-game expectation. He prayed to his grandfather he’d meet him there, and he did. West was the centerpiece for the receiving corps and helped get other WRs involved. Clarke caught two balls for scores. That’s huge for him going forward, especially with Adrian Flemming done for the season. Nine different Orange players caught passes. Hats off to George McDonald for getting everyone involved in the blowout.
- Speaking of the Mailman, SU’s running game finally showed up
The combination of running backs used in Syracuse’s 236-yard attack was what we’ve been waiting for all along. Shafer’s “sure thing” heading into the season was the ground game, and SU prioritized to run over the Seahawks D. It ran the ball so effectively that the Orange defense had plenty of rest to hold Wagner without a first down until a minute left in the first half. Smith led the rushing charge with 61 yards and two TDs. It’s great to see McDonald incorporating the young guns like Devante McFarlene and George Morris. Even Adonis Ameen-Moore saw action. Shafer and McDonald stuck to their principles and continued to mix everyone in.
- Shafer showered, first career head coaching win
Shafer got the first one off his back Saturday, along with a Gatorade shower to celebrate it. This whole process has been a whirlwind for him personally. Doug Marrone is busy changing the culture in Buffalo, as Scott heads Syracuse into its inaugural season as a member of the ACC. Shafer has been down to business since getting the job. Again, it’s only Wagner, but Shafer appreciated the support at the Dome and understands the team can’t look too far into this one. No question Saturday was a game of just getting that taste of what it felt like to win. The Orange sets itself up nicely, as it could even up its record at 2-2, take a nice week off, and finally prepare for a showdown, the conference opener with Clemson. ACC time is coming.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen