To redshirt, or not to redshirt – that is the question. True freshman QB A.J. Long did not think the coaching staff would be considering this a week ago. However, a leg injury to Terrel Hunt has changed the plan.
With all the chaos on the Hill right now with the Hunt injury and the George McDonald demotion, Scott Shafer and new offensive coordinator Tim Lester have a tough situation at quarterback against the top team in the nation in Florida State, Saturday.
Austin Wilson OR A.J. Long was listed at the starting quarterback position on Monday’s depth chart. Wilson is the likely option to start after coming to relieve Hunt in the embarrassing loss to the Cardinals last weekend. He went 11-17 for 89 passing yards against Villanova earlier this season and is known to have a cannon for an arm. At the same time, Wilson is unproven like Long and Mitch Kimble. The staff wants to keep its options open with only three healthy quarterbacks on the roster.
But, should the Orange burn Long’s redshirt almost halfway into the season? It might seem inevitable at this point with Shafer considering a two-quarterback system this Saturday against the Seminoles. It is important to note that Long has been around the team since he enrolled in January and has turned quite a few heads while he has been on the scout team.
The issue is that Long has a lot of potential on this team for future years. He even made strides to become a leader in his class before hitting the gridiron. Long was rated as high up as a four-star recruit, although most recruiting sites had him at three stars. Long taking snaps this season means he would only have three years left at Syracuse, which could affect how fast the staff wants to develop the Tennessee native. There has definitely been a talent increase – however so gradual – within the past few recruiting classes. This means the staff has to be careful to avoid making a decision they might regret in a few seasons.
However the way Syracuse should be looking at this opportunity is as a fresh start. Every young quarterback needs experience at some point or another in a real game setting. Lester has taken over the play-calling reins and needs a spark on the offense side of the ball. Long’s energy and competitive nature can be just what the Orange needs to at least get the offense moving.
Nobody expects Syracuse to come even close to beating the Seminoles at the Dome. With the spread of the game continually favoring FSU to win Saturday’s game by a landslide, the Orange can – and should – use this opportunity to get creative and test out some fresh faces. Throughout last recruiting season, fans were salivating at what the potential combination between Long and WR Steve Ishmael could be like. Both will have a shot against one of the best defenses in the country if Shafer and his staff agree to play Long and burn the redshirt.
Although it will not look pretty at the Dome this Saturday, the quarterback-wide receiver relationship is a major area the Orange can focus on to make strides to preserve any bowl chances they have left.
Posted: Zephan Mayell