“Syracuse football: we’re back and we’re going to an ACC Championship in the next four years.” – Words of motivation from freshman quarterback AJ Long after Syracuse fell to Florida State 38-20 at the Carrier Dome.
The last time Syracuse was in a quarterback competition was last August with Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen. Hunt eventually won, but Syracuse needs to reconsider its options at QB after the game Long had against Florida State.
Although Long only took about half the snaps after sharing time with Austin Wilson, he was very impressive. Hunt struggled through his five games and was not the same quarterback as he was last year. Long completed 16-of-27 passes for 167 yards against the #1-ranked Seminoles.
Long’s ability to run the passing game effectively stood out, since that has been a huge issue for the Orange this season. He threw two scores in the loss, meaning Long’s now the team’s leader in passing touchdowns. He also has the best abilities of the other two quarterbacks combined. He can run just like Hunt, and can throw effectively like Wilson.
Wilson and Hunt are both limited, but Long has a complete package. Long’s biggest flaw is simply his lack of experience and the size. He’s on the smaller side for a starting QB, but what does size matter if you can play? This game was a strong indication of what he can bring to the table for the rest of the season.
Even when Hunt comes back after the injury, this job should belong to Long. He is going to be the quarterback of this program in the near future, and may as well start now. Let him develop with his young receivers and grow within the offense. He also clearly has the ambition, discussing the ACC Championship Game after just one game played.
Long already has a great connection in Steve Ishmael, who caught both of Long’s touchdown passes. This has been a connection in the making. Long said:
“Most of the time we go up against each other versus the first team defense on scout team. Then we really built it. You put that ball within a two- to three-foot radius of that man, he is going to catch it. Doesn’t matter if it’s one-handed, two-handed, he could catch it with his eyes closed.”
Now with Wilson dealing with an upper body injury after a hard hit to the ground late in the game, Long will likely be the guy against Wake Forest next week.
Posted: Austin Pollack