After coach Scott Shafer announced that there would be a hybrid scoring system for the Syracuse University Spring Game, many were skeptical. However, the team provided an entertaining contest for fans, along with some perks.
There were 4,071 people in attendance, a slight increase from last year. The game itself was free, and attendees received free food vouchers. They also had the opportunity to purchase exact seats for season ticket plans, and were able to step on the Carrier Dome turf for an autograph session after the game. In addition, the fans were treated to stellar quarterback play, in a race that is sure to heat up over the coming months.
The game certainly proved that the Orange has increasing depth at the quarterback position. Returning starter Terrel Hunt is projected as the starting play-caller for the Orange, barring injury, but the role of his backup is still wide open. In the mix are two redshirt freshmen and one true freshman.
All three of the backups threw touchdowns; Hunt did not. He did, however, complete an efficient 12 of his 15 passes for 95 yards.
Redshirt freshman Mitch Kimble and true freshman A.J. Long should be considered the early favorites for the second spot on the depth chart. Splitting first team reps in the second half, Kimble connected with Brisly Estime downfield for a 64-yard play and a 15-yard touchdown to Jeremiah Kobena.
Long, on the other hand, threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Ashton Broyld, who may have been the standout player in the game. He had eight catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Long completed 10 of 15 throws for 82 yards, in addition to his score.
Together, the quarterbacks combined to complete 76 percent of its throws. The passing attack appeared much improved from last season, in which Syracuse’s running game came to the forefront.
The game was played in an offense versus defense fashion. The offense would score as any offense would, through touchdowns and extra points, while the defense would score through forced turnovers, three-and-outs, and defensive scoring. The offense won the game 34-27.
All of the quarterbacks ran a watered-down offense that featured plenty of screens to the backs and the wide receivers. Redshirt freshman quarterback and dark horse Austin Wilson used this play-calling to his advantage: he capped two drives off with touchdown passes to Kobena and Broyld, and the wide receivers used their playmaking abilities and speed to score.
All of this, of course, is second-tier to the redshirt sophomore Hunt, who is penciled in as the starter for the Orange. It does make the future of Orange football look bright, however, and fans have something to be excited for. The Orange opens its season against the Villanova Wildcats on August 29.
Posted by: Jason Weingold