Yes, it was in garbage time.
Yes, backups were in on both sides of the ball.
But no matter how you slice it, the Syracuse Orange have a problem at quarterback and Terrel Hunt's small sample at the end of Saturday's game against Northwestern may have provided something for the coaching staff to consider as Scott Shafer continues to look for his first win as a head coach.
The Wildcats (2-0) destroyed Syracuse (0-2) 48-27, and the defense didn't do its part in any way, but Drew Allen played a big part as well. He completed 27 of 41 passes, much improved from his SU debut, but he was intercepted four times while coming up with just one score. The game only got worse as it progressed for the Orange and Allen, who now has six interceptions to his name after two games of play.
The final score for Syracuse came via Hunt, who rumbled 15 yards into the end zone after coming off of not just option No. 1, but option No. 2 in his progression. Simple, right? Wrong, several of Allen's interceptions came from staring down the initial read in each of his two full games of tape. Division I defensive backs are too fast to allow quarterbacks to lock in on one guy all night long.
So what? Hunt scored on a run, big deal…
Before that point, however, Hunt was able to put his decision-making on display. He threw the ball four times, completing a pair of passes, both with accuracy and timing. Each was to Quinta Funerburke, who was the No. 1 option on each route, for the record. But after the initial completion, Hunt and the offense began to pick up speed. It wasn't a hurry-up in reference to a two-minute drill, but more of a simple up-tempo offensive scheme. Kind of like the one Syracuse fans thought they would see from offensive coordinator George McDonald all along. Hunt knew the terminology, relayed it without issue and the offense caught the Wildcats by surprise and the dual-threat QB accounted for 52 yards in the process.
When Hunt wasn't throwing, he made sound decisions in the read-option, keeping the ball two times in addition to the scoring play. The first, in which he broke one tackle, showed him not doing too much given the circumstances. On the second keep, the New York native broke five tackles and achieved a first down with both elusiveness and power.
Hunt wasn't perfect, misfiring to Funderburke on his second attempt to the former Arkansas signee. The route was a simple curl to the sticks (the first-down marker) and Hunt was low as the ball one-hopped to the wideout. But if that's the only negative, again despite the circumstances, why not give him a look?
After all, the QB battle was apparently neck-and-neck all the way through camp to the point that Shafer didn't name a starter until he trotted Allen out there for Game 1. If it was that close, and the offense seemed to respond more with the guy who they have known as opposed to a transfer, why not see if it ignites something offensively that we have failed to see through eight quarters of action against Big Ten opponents?
Roll the dice, coach, especially with the ACC opener not too far from now and Wagner College coming to the Carrier Dome next week.
No disrespect to Allen...
But it's time to Hunt.