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‚Äôt lie that SU‚Äôs 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‚Äôs new offense that was pioneered a few years ago at Nevada with Colin Kaepernick.
Syracuse didn‚Äôt run the pistol with head coach Doug Marrone. In addition to the Orange‚Äôs 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‚Äîas opposed to Allen‚Äîtold the Fizz that this year‚Äôs playbook is bigger, and might be a little more confusing.
‚ÄúWe were running a little bit too many plays, it was just too complicated‚Äîwell, not really complicated, but we weren‚Äôt maximizing on our opportunities. Now we picked up the tempo, now we‚Äôre 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.‚Äù
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 ‚Äú1,000 plays‚Äù against PSU, compared to, say, a dozen in 2012. He remarked to the Fizz that SU was almost ‚Äúexperimenting‚Äù with the pistol in Game 1 at Metlife.
That‚Äôs not very reassuring.
But fear not.¬†Hunt can save the pistol, which shouldn‚Äôt be thrown into the dumpster yet. He‚Äôs a bit faster than Allen, and more of a threat to run, which is what you need. You can‚Äôt 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.
‚ÄúThis year‚Äôs playbook is more on the quarterback with the reads, and personally I think this year‚Äôs offense is easier because it‚Äôs, ‚Äòget that guy the ball at this moment‚Äô and that‚Äôs it.‚Äù
Quarterbacks coach Tim Lester brought the pistol with him from Elmhurst College right outside of the Windy City to the Salt City. He‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs 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.‚Äù
And SU‚Äôs running backs, Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, have said that it‚Äôs easier to read where they need to run in the pistol as opposed to lining up on the quarterback‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Division III. But now after a few shaky weeks, everyone is on board according, to Lester.
‚ÄúWhen we brought it in, they weren‚Äôt sure if they liked it, now Jerome [Smith] loves it, Terrel [Hunt] loves it, and it let‚Äôs the running back be down hill, they love their shoulders square to the line of scrimmage as opposed to sideways.‚Äù
There‚Äôs no need to trade in the car yet. Lester and company has to give Hunt the keys to the pistol.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald