After a week in which the football program looked to be clustered and disheveled, Syracuse played its most challenging game of the season against No. 1 Florida State and came up short, 38-20.
The coaching shuffle and quarterback fiasco led much of Orange Nation to believe the game against FSU would be a disaster, especially considering neither Austin Wilson or AJ Long had much, or any, collegiate experience.
There was plenty of speculation as to how new offensive coordinator Tim Lester would handle the offense and run the two quarterbacks. It did not start well, but it got better.
Austin Wilson started off strong, driving the Orange down the field. Wilson and the offense reached the Florida State 12-yard line, but Wilson threw an interception, which led to a Seminole field goal. He completed five of his nine passes, but could not really help Syracuse move the ball closer to the goal line.
Insert AJ Long. The true freshman had hopes of being the starting quarterback coming into the year, and wanted to compete for the job. He wasted no time in showing his coaches and the 43,295 fans who packed the Dome what he is made of.
Long has a bit of Terrel Hunt and Wilson in him. He can run for his own yardage, and he can make passes on the run. Even better, he can run the passing game – something Hunt has struggled to do effectively.
This is the start of the new season for Syracuse, with Long as the man under center. He is the best option because of the tools he has in whatever the situation is. He made the best passes in the right situation.
Although the coaching situation is still fresh, the quarterback decision is simple and one less thing to worry about. He threw for two touchdowns, connecting with Steve Ishmael twice. He performed well in the most difficult task of the season against a team that could very well repeat as national champions.
Keep calm, Orange Nation. AJ Long is here, and ready to do big things in his Syracuse career.
Posted: Austin Pollack