Syracuse football‚Äôs quarterback situation has been a hot topic of discussion during the entire offseason. After just six wins in the past two seasons, it‚Äôs all the more important for Dino Babers and his staff to evaluate the position correctly.
Part of that evaluation process is deciding who gives Syracuse the most upside not just in 2021, but in seasons beyond as well. Any starting experience given to someone in the QB room could factor into future playing time.
Who gives Syracuse the highest ceiling at QB in 2021?
With three guys with starting experience in the quarterback room in Tommy DeVito, Garrett Shrader (at Mississippi State in 2019) and JaCobian Morgan (two starts in 2020). There are arguments to be made for each one of the three, however cherry-picked they may be.
DeVito‚Äôs experience (16 games since 2019) and arm talent make him the ideal candidate, while Garrett Shrader‚Äôs dual-threat resum√© while playing in the SEC in ‚Äò19 makes him the only true alternative, albeit as a bit of a wild card. Morgan showed some flashes as a true freshman in 2020 and is more athletic than DeVito, but clearly needs more seasoning. If it was possible to take Morgan in a ‚Äúdynasty‚Äù fantasy football league, he‚Äôd probably be the best bet to contribute a few years from now.
From a talent perspective, DeVito is the most likely to play and succeed if he can be protected, while Shrader looks more viable if the SU offensive line falters again and a more mobile player is needed. That makes the whole question about ‚Äòceiling‚Äô a little bit misleading, and its answer hinges on a whole separate position group: the offensive line.
It can be argued no Power 5 offensive line has been worse than Syracuse‚Äôs over the past two seasons, at least in pass blocking. Prior to 2019, SU had to replace two standout tackles in Koda Martin and Cody Conway as well as guard Aaron Roberts. That forced Syracuse to start a mostly new line, and problems immediately surfaced. To make things worse, starting center Sam Heckel was injured after the season opener and never returned, while graduate transfer Ryan Alexander quit the team midway through the season. Depth and talent problems have persisted ever since. Unsurprisingly, opponents racked up 88 sacks against the SU offense over the past two seasons. No quarterback is built to withstand that, on Syracuse‚Äôs roster or otherwise.
To cure the O-line woes, new offensive line coach Mike Schmidt was hired in February of this year from San Diego State to replace the embattled Mike Cavanaugh. ‚ÄúOrange is the New Fast‚Äù is fun, but nobody is very fast when they‚Äôre lying flat on their back on the Carrier Dome turf. Schmidt‚Äôs ability to develop SU‚Äôs current line will do the most in determining how the team‚Äôs quarterbacks play this fall.