Terrel Hunt? Done. Eric Dungey? Probably doubtful.
The revolving door of quarterbacks stops on walk on JuCo transfer Zack Mahoney for Saturday, as the raw signal caller will make his first DI start against a #8-ranked LSU team that just dismantled SEC foe Auburn.
Mahoney saw a little bit of action in last week’s contest against Central Michigan, completing all four of his passes for 19 yards. After Dungey went down, Mahoney and Austin Wilson, who saw a decent amount of playing time last year, split the snaps. Mahoney was used most-often in read option plays and was in the game for his legs, while Wilson did most of the throwing. It should be noted that Shafer sent out Mahoney for overtime. However, Wilson will still see his fair share of snaps on Saturday most likely, unless Mahoney puts together a performance for the history books.
There are a couple reasons why Mahoney gets the nod from Lester and Shafer. First of all, the Orange has to match the offense it has run the past three weeks with mobile quarterbacks Hunt and Dungey. Mahoney has a skillset most-like those two which will give the Orange the best chance at an upset against a national powerhouse. Second, because AJ Long is still hurting. Like Mahoney, Long has a similar skillset and uses his legs well. When Hunt went down last year, it was Long who started until he went down with an injury. He led SU to an impressive road win at Wake Forest.
Shafer and Lester have a ton of confidence in Mahoney’s ability to run the offense. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to do so against one of the best defensive programs in college football history. Producing players like Patrick Peterson, Eric Reid, and Jalen Collins in the last few years, LSU has had more talent on the defensive side of the ball than nearly every program in the country.
“The Officer,” as his coaches and teammates call him, will struggle, that’s no question. Even if the Orange was putting Donovan McNabb 2.0 on the field, he would struggle too. So, don’t be disappointed when the offense turns the ball over, fails to get first downs, and puts up blanks in the red zone. Just remember that Syracuse is already halfway to a bowl appearance and has plenty of games to go. If Mahoney pulls off the unthinkable? Let’s cross that bridge when we get there.