Terrel Hunt has had a roller-coaster season. The Fizz goes through Hunt’s seasonal progression and what he needs to improve upon to continue on as Syracuse’s starting quarterback.
Let’s rewind to the start of the season. Terrel Hunt sat on the sidelines the first two weeks after losing the QB competition to Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. Some would have given up after not winning the job. Although Allen’s struggles were the reason why Hunt was given a shot, Hunt, much like Syracuse football this season, thrived as the underdog. He was able to beat defenses this year with a balanced combination of passing and scrambling in space.
However, he went through stretches against tough opponents (Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State University), where he looked lost and unconfident on the field. But Hunt was able to improve each week.
In the beginning and middle of the season, Hunt was not able to make the big throw on third down and heavily relied on the running game, including his own two legs. By the end of the season, Hunt had gained the confidence to make the big throw—remember that 21-yard pass to Brisly Estime on a long third down with less than 6:00 left in the Texas Bowl?
The defender on that play? Brock Vereen, who will most likely be playing on Sundays next year.
The Queens native still has a lot to prove if he wants to retain the starting role next season. Hunt is clearly the frontrunner to win the job after a strong end to the 2013 campaign. However, there will be some hungry competition behind him if he cannot improve on his mechanics this offseason. Hunt’s Achilles’ heel is a lack of accuracy in his passing game. Hunt overthrew many of his receivers on deep routes throughout the year, causing Syracuse to miss out on plenty of scoring opportunities. Once defenses realized Hunt had a major issue throwing the ball, they would stack the line of scrimmage to eliminate the bread and butter of the SU offense, the ground game. Eventually, Hunt was able to marginally improve enough to convert third downs and keep the chains moving. Working on the deep ball is a must for Hunt heading into 2014.
Another issue was building connections with offensive targets. Many thought Hunt and Jarrod West would be the lethal combo for the Orange at the start of the year. In the end, the relationship did not develop and Hunt could not grow a consistent connection with a receiver. With the emergence of Brisly Estime and an incoming 4-star WR recruit, KJ Williams, Hunt will have another opportunity to gain a go-to receiver who could jump-start the passing game.
Some critics have said Hunt has not proven enough to be handed the starting role next year despite leading Syracuse to a winning season. While any competition is a good thing, wins speak for themselves. Hunt threw the game-winning pass to Josh Parris to gain bowl eligibility against B.C. and was able to run in for the touchdown after the Estime punt return in the Texas Bowl.
Hunt fits the SU offense and has shown flashes that he can take it to the next level. The starting job will be his to lose.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell