Syracuse rolls into practice this week with high spirits after their first ACC win against N.C. State. The rushing attack and offensive line meshed very well to gain a whopping 362 yards on the ground, while the defense played great in their first game without starting CB Keon Lyn. However, the major glare in the box score comes in the passing department, where Terrel Hunt only completed ten passes for 74 yards.
It is not unusual to see quarterback’s statistics drop in games when the rushing attack dominates an opponent’s defense. Unfortunately for Hunt, this is the second week in a row he has not been able to hit his receivers. The Orange got lucky the Wolfpack’s defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable did not pack the line to completely stop the run. Upcoming opponents are not going to be as giving when they study the film this week.
A major way for Hunt to start the aerial attack is to complement the offensive areas that are already working. Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley lead the Syracuse ground game to 685 yards in the past two games. The more attention defenses pay to rushing threats, the better chance Hunt can catch them sleeping in coverage. The power of the rushing attack also sets up manageable third downs. Converting on third-and-short rather than a longer third down can help Hunt mature faster and keep the ball moving downfield. We know Hunt has the skill set to hit receivers in stride after the Wagner and Tulane games. Although the talent level of SU’s opponents in those games are not comparable to ACC schools, the early experience should give Hunt something to look back on when trying to jump-start the passing game.
Another aspect of Hunt’s game that has saved him thus far is his running ability. Hunt ran for 92 yards and a score against N.C. State. A week earlier against Clemson, Hunt was able to muster up 57 yards on the ground. The dual-threat keeps defenses on their feet. This will be easier for Hunt to exploit as he plays more games against ACC defenses. Keeping players guessing will allow targets to get open as games progress.
When Ryan Nassib struggled at times in his Syracuse career, he would utilize his tight ends to get the passing game going. Beckett Wales has a similar build to a Nassib-favorite, Nick Provo. Wales has proven during his time at SU that he can make catches and be a receiving threat. However, Wales only has three catches on the year for 23 yards. Hunt would benefit from finding Wales to keep the chains moving and opening up the field for deep threats like Jarrod West and Christopher Clark.
The quarterback position has been heavily scrutinized since the preseason. Now Hunt will be under a bright spotlight to see if he can produce as the Orange chases a bowl game.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell