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The Daily Orange’s unofficial positional breakdown: No. 6: The quarterbacks

first_img Published on August 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2 Facebook Twitter Google+ Football beat writers David Wilson, Stephen Bailey and Trevor Hass are counting down the days until Syracuse football opens its season against Penn State on Aug. 31. They’ll show you what you can expect from each position as the Orange moves toward its Atlantic Coast Conference debut, with the top position showcased in the DO’s annual season preview guide to be released on Aug. 29. The guide will also feature a more in depth look at the quarterback position.No. 10: Kick returners/punt returnersNo. 9: The secondaryNo. 8: The defensive lineNo. 7: Tight endsAdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt’s a cliché, yes, but the only thing certain about Syracuse’s quarterback situation is that it is entirely uncertain.Well, that’s not totally true. It’s certain that either Drew Allen or Terrel Hunt will start. It’s almost certain that whoever is the starter will have his bumps in the road. And it’s all but certain that neither of them, at least right away, will be anywhere near the signal caller that Ryan Nassib was as a senior.For the Orange to be successful, though, whoever starts at quarterback will have to learn fast.Key returning playersThere is also certainly no shortage of adequate quarterback options. Hunt, just a sophomore, is a playmaker with his legs. Charley Loeb, who backed up Nassib for three years, long appeared to be in line to start this season. Even John Kinder, who moved to wide receiver earlier this summer, was in the mix for the job in the spring.But Hunt has played in just one game. Loeb has been almost exclusively a holder in his three seasons at SU. Kinder had played in just two games as a special teamer. Syracuse’s returning quarterbacks have thrown just six total passes.Reasons for optimismAllen was supposed to be the savior. The Texas high school star from the faraway lands of the Big 12, Allen sat on the bench behind current NFL players Sam Bradford and Landry Jones at Oklahoma before transferring to become a graduate student at Syracuse and, presumably, succeed Nassib.He threw just 30 passes in three years for the Sooners and hasn’t been quite the star people thought he could be. Perhaps the expectations were too lofty for a player who never started a game in college.Quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said Allen struggled at first, but since he’s gotten a handle of the offense he’s started playing better.“We installed everything through Day Three and once I got comfortable with that everything was great,” Allen said. “I hit the ground running after that.”Still, his ascent from backup to starter has hit a bump in the form of Hunt. The quarterback had the inherent advantage of knowing SU’s offense and an established chemistry. Maybe it’s a positive sign that the quarterback who was supposed to be the certain starter has been challenged.Reasons for concernBut maybe it’s not. Neither quarterback has particularly stood out during training camp. In Thursday’s scrimmage in Fort Drum, N.Y., Allen was 10-for-18. Hunt was 9-for-17. Neither are particularly bad numbers, but they’re not good either.Shafer hasn’t tipped his hand at all, simply saying, “Before we kick off at Penn State we’ll have a decision made as to who’s playing quarterback.” In fact, he’s barely even discussed what makes each quarterback good, or what each one has to work on. The most excited he’s seemed about any quarterback – most likely by design – are his freshmen, Mitch Kimble and Austin Wilson.Shafer said he’d be fine with getting either one ready to start, though Kimble struggled a bit during Thursday’s scrimmage.But that’s not the issue. The issue is that neither Allen nor Hunt has actually looked very good throwing the ball down the field. Almost all of Hunt’s completions during the scrimmage came on screen passes or dump-offs to his running backs. Even Allen – who came from OU with the promise of a cannon of an arm to go along with his massive, 6-foot-5 frame – although felled by dropped passes, only completed two that traveled more than 10 yards in the air.The verdictThere’s definitely some promise, but the inexperience could be this unit’s downfall. No matter what, they probably won’t be Nassib, who was one of the best quarterbacks in program history.On this year’s team, though, they don’t have to be. Syracuse will lean on its running game, but does need at least the threat of being able to expand the field. With two inexperienced quarterbacks and an inexperienced group of wide receivers, they haven’t shown that potential yet.But access to practice has been limited. There’s still time before Week One to iron out some of the kinks, but for now the Orange doesn’t even have a starter. Either one will be solid, even if they’re not Nassib.“They’re continuing to battle,” Lester said, “and they’re both getting better every day competing against one another.”Grade: BCome back to DailyOrange.com on Friday to see what position comes in at No. 5. Commentslast_img read more