When Syracuse revealed its depth chart for the upcoming football season, there were a lot of question marks. There are disputes over positioning on both lines, as well as anticipation surrounding the wide receiver corps. One position that is certainly not up for debate, however, is the play-caller.
Unlike last season when he started behind Drew Allen on the depth chart, Terrel Hunt is a lock for the starting quarterback job after leading the Orange to a Texas Bowl win over Minnesota in his first year under center.
Hunt seized the job from Allen in Week 3, where he earned his first start and win against Wagner in the Dome. On the season, Hunt threw for 1,638 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 500 yards and seven TDs on the ground.
While the numbers were serviceable, the Orange has a dynamic, play-making quarterback under center and should try and showcase his athleticism in the upcoming year. One way that Coach Shafer is trying to do this is by increasing the offense’s tempo. Syracuse ran only 74 plays per game last season. Increasing tempo will help tire the defense out and give Hunt more opportunities to stretch the field.
Hunt should have a lot more flexibility on offense because of the Orange’s strength in the running game. Prince Tyson-Gulley, a returning senior, will have plenty of opportunities to carry the ball with George Morris II and Devante McFarland backing him up. The three-headed beast of speed and power should receive a lot of touches and has the ability to gash chunks of yardage on each play. This rushing attack will only free up Hunt’s passing game and his ability to move outside of the pocket.
In addition, the coaching staff and the receiving group will have a full year under their belt. Last season was definitely a learning experience for the entire team, including Shafer and offensive coordinator George McDonald. While fans were often frustrated with the seemingly endless read-option, Hunt will have more flexibility to work in his second year. The matured receivers will also allow McDonald to call better plays. With the defense protecting against the run, Hunt can stretch the field by finding an improved group of receivers, none of which broke out last season.
Hunt will not have much pressure from below. Currently backing up the redshirt sophomore is redshirt freshman Mitch Kimble, freshman AJ Long, redshirt freshman Austin Wilson, and freshman Alin Edouard. None of these guys have had any game experience with the Orange.
Barring an Allen-like collapse, Hunt will have the flexibility to control the offense and hopefully lead Syracuse to another successful season. All signs point to that happening with the second-year man running the offense.
Posted by: Jason Weingold