There are a lot of new things for Syracuse Orange football in 2013. There is a new head coach in Scott Shafer, new assistants all over the staff, and a new home in the ACC. But the thing that will impact Syracuse’s season more than anything will be their new quarterback, whoever it may be.
For as much criticism as Ryan Nassib took during his three years as Syracuse’s starting quarterback, he deserves a great deal of credit for the Orange winning five of its final six games last season and winning a share of the Big East championship. The hole left by Nassib’s exit is the biggest one on the team heading into the 2013 season; bigger than the hole left by starting left tackle Justin Pugh; bigger than the absence of wide receivers Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon; and even bigger than the exit of head coach Doug Marrone. Replacing Nassib will be a tall task for the Orange, as it’s hard not to think that there will be a significant drop off between the quarterback they hard during the second half of the 2012 season and whoever ends up succeeding Nassib as Syracuse’s starting quarterback.
Despite the loss of Nassib, Sales, Lemon, and the early departure of Pugh, the Orange return most of their roster from a season ago, losing no more than ten key contributors, a relatively low number for a major college football team. Defensively, the Orange will return all but one member of its secondary, no less than three experienced linebackers, and most of a stout defensive line. Offensively, Syracuse will have three returning starters on the offensive line, an absolutely loaded backfield, and a large contingent of talented, albeit inexperienced, wide receivers and tight ends. That leaves the quarterback position as the only place on the field where there is uncertainty.
Nassib’s replacement will ultimately be chosen from a group that includes 5th year senior Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and sophomore Terrel Hunt. With Nassib being such a mainstay at the quarterback position for the last three seasons, we have little knowledge about the type of quarterback Loeb, Kinder, and Hunt are. Loeb has six career pass attempts, Kinder has played some on special teams, and Hunt has yet to play at all in his career.
With three candidates that have so little experience, the quarterback position is such a mystery for the Orange. Whoever ends up being the starter will have big shoes to fill, and despite a lack of experience, they’ll have to play at a high level right away. Syracuse is set at nearly every position, but they won last season because of strong play at quarterback, and they’re going to need that again to repeat that success in 2013.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.