For Syracuse Orange quarterback Terrel Hunt, making it through the 2013 season must have felt like traversing a mountain range. Hunt was named the starter during the spring then lost the job in training camp to a graduate transfer from the Oklahoma Sooners in Drew Allen. In game three, Hunt won the job back with a strong performance against the Wagner Seahawks and followed it up with a near-perfect performance against the Tulane Green Wave. In those two games, he completed 31 of his 39 passes for 446 yards and seven touchdowns, along with 61 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His performance, after Allen’s struggles, seemed almost miraculous. It appeared that the season had been saved because Hunt had taken over and he seemed to be able to do anything you could ever want from a quarterback.
Then the Clemson Tigers came to town.
The result was a a mauling at the hands of the Tigers. It was clear that Syracuse did not have the talent to compete with the apparent class of the ACC (the Tigers’ own mauling at the hands of the Florida State Seminoles came later). Hunt struggled mightily, but so did everyone else. The receivers were unable to shake Clemson’s defenders and, as a result, Hunt went 8-of-24 passing with three interceptions.
That game marked the beginning of a difficult stretch during which Hunt rarely looked like the quarterback that Orange fans had built him up to be after the Tulane game. But Syracuse managed to win games against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Maryland Terrapins during the middle of the season, and Hunt gradually improved.
By the time the Orange faced the Boston College Eagles in the last game of the regular season, it seemed like the game had slowed down for the sophomore quarterback. He ended up completing 29-of-43 passes in that game for 270 yards and two touchdowns, along with another 90 yards and a touchdown rushing. His second touchdown pass also won the game for the Orange in the final seconds.
Hunt put together a similar performance against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Syracuse’s Texas Bowl win. Once again Hunt delivered the win with a touchdown run in the final moments, sending the Orange into the offseason on a high note.
Hunt’s passing numbers for the season (1,638 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions with a 61.2 percent completion rate) masked the mid-season struggles a bit, with a large chunk of his passing yards and touchdowns coming against Wagner and Tulane. But Hunt throws an accurate ball, has a strong arm and rarely forces things. His ability to run the ball was a constant source of offense for Syracuse last season, and he often carried the entire offense that way. The game looked like it was just too fast at times, but that changed by the end of the season.
This year, Hunt will return as one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the conference. He will also command an offense that should be much better than it was a year ago, with most of the offensive line returning, a couple of play-making pass-catchers in Ashton Broyld and Brisly Estime, a solid corps of running backs and a year of experience in offensive coordinator George McDonald‘s fast-paced offense. The Orange offense will certainly be one to watch this year, as Hunt looks to avoid some of the valleys from last season and lead Syracuse back to an upper-division bowl game.