Walk-on transfer Zack Mahoney did an admirable job filling in for injured true freshman quarterback Eric Dungey yesterday against LSU. However, it was pretty evident how good Dungey actually is when fans saw Mahoney bounce throws to his receivers amidst a poor first half showing.
In the second half, Mahoney showed some improvement as he settled down in the pocket and delivered some decent throws, including a beautiful 40-yard over-the-shoulder ball to Brisly Estime. After completing the first half just 5-of-13 for 35 yards, Mahoney finished the game 16-for-38 with 154 yards and, most importantly, three touchdowns. He also had one heartbreaking, tipped interception that stunted all SU momentum in the second half.
Considering everything that has happened in the last few weeks for Syracuse football, fans cannot be upset with Mahoney’s performance at all. Sure, the game felt winnable for a couple moments when the Orange were in a one-possession dogfight, but ultimately, the more talented team found a way to win. Mahoney, after all, started the season as the fifth-string quarterback on the depth chart. It’s not like having Dungey under center would have won the Orange the game, the team played about as well as it could have on Saturday. What is more important is that the Orange could have its starting quarterback on the field in two weeks.
Somewhat lost in the postgame presser, coach Scott Shafer said that Dungey will return to practice during this coming week. The Orange is headed into a bye week, so it’s entirely possible for Dungey to start SU’s next game against South Florida. After watching the young quarterback take a shot to the head last weekend, it’s pretty surprising that he’s already ready to practice, and it just adds to his growing legacy at quarterback and the excitement surrounding the program.
Ultimately, fans just have to remember that SU had no business winning yesterday’s game. Mahoney didn’t play poorly at all. In fact, he was very productive in the red zone, something that the Orange has struggled with in the last few years. And although having Dungey under center may have given the team a better shot at the W, it just wasn’t worth the risk. Considering everything, a 3-1 record is nothing to be ashamed of.