First-year Syracuse Orange head coach Scott Shafer has a tough road ahead of him. Aside from this being his first foray into the world of BCS-level head coaching, he has to lead his new program into their first season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. With games this season against a nothing-to-lose Penn State program to begin the year, as well as matchups against national powers Florida State and Clemson, Shafer also has the task of replacing the most accomplished Orange QB since Donovan McNabb, Ryan Nassib.
While the picture of Nassib’s replacement was blurry to begin spring practices, many thought it cleared up a bit when the program landed Oklahoma Sooners transfer Drew Allen. Although unproven on the field due to being the backup to Landry Jones the past few seasons, many expected Allen to be the clear-cut favorite to be the ‘Cuse starter in Week 1 based solely off of his Sooner pedigree.
Well, during the annual intrasquad scrimmage to analyze talent known as the spring game, sophomore Terrel Hunt performed impressively enough with the first-team offense that it was hard to ignore what he could bring to the table.
It’s a situation where you have someone built off of hype in Allen versus someone who has performed, albeit in a scrimmage, in Hunt. The performance however was impressive enough to start whispers that Hunt could indeed have a shot at winning this job.
Monday, Shafer publicly addressed the situation.
Appearing on famed New York radio host Mike Francesa‘s daily WFAN show, Shafer was asked about the QB battle. The coach remarked, ”We got a couple of ‘em battling. I’m going to need the whole summer to make a good decision. My goal is to make sure the position is strong. It may not be one singular guy at the beginning. But the position has to be strong for the rest of the team. I’m looking forward to the battle.”
Now, while Shafer did use the phrase “couple of ‘em”, alluding to two other signal callers on the team in Charley Loeb and John Kinder, make no mistake about it, Hunt is the man that will challenge Allen this summer. Shafer was merely being generous to the other two.
Amongst all of that, the one phrase that stood out to me the most, was when Shafer spoke of there maybe not being one singular guy in the beginning. Was he foreshadowing a possible two-quarterback scenario for the Orange to begin 2013? Is he going to take the route that some coaches have taken lately and stretch a QB battle into the actual season, making a final decision right before the meat of the conference schedule begins?
In today’s world, both scenarios are incredibly possible. Between Hunt and Allen, each bring something to the table that can benefit the team.
Hunt’s mobility, as well as the ability he displayed throwing the ball while in movement, could throw a lot of defenses off, especially as the young man were to grow throughout the season and get better.
Allen is more of a sit-in-the-pocket, pick you apart, type passer, which given Syracuse’s anticipated strong running game in 2013, could also help, especially in play-action scenarios.
Shafer is right, this is indeed going to be a battle to look forward to–even if it were to last into September.