When Terrel Hunt took over as Syracuse's starting quarterback, he played at a level that seemed almost too good to be true. Against Wagner and Tulane, he threw for a combined 464-yards and seven touchdowns. This without turning the ball over.
The Orange had found their quarterback after struggles from Drew Allen in the first three weeks. But Hunt is a young quarterback who just finished his third career start. Struggles are expected, and over the last two weeks those expectations have come to fruition.
Against North Carolina State and Clemson, Hunt is only completing 41% of his passes while throwing five interceptions without a scoring toss. One of the reasons for his struggles over the last two games is moving away from his tendency to go through his progressions.
Hunt has stared down his primary read more frequently in the last two games, specifically against N.C. State. When he has had open receiver, which has not been often, he has missed on those throws. Against Clemson, he had Jarrod West with a step behind a Tigers cornerback and under threw it. The result was an interception.
Against the Wolfpack on Saturday, there were three plays where an accurate pass gets Syracuse a big gain. On his first interception, Hunt looked for West on a deep post. West was open and streaking across the middle. As Hunt wound up to lay it out in front of him, he was bumped by a defensive linemen and the ball was underthrown.
On another pass, Hunt had West open on a square out, but threw the ball behind his intended receiver. In the third quarter, Hunt looked towards Chris Clark deep down the field. Clark had a couple steps on the corner but Hunt's pass was slightly overthrown.
The opportunities for Hunt to make plays through the air have been few and far between. His receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired and have really struggled to gain separation over the last two games. There have been several occasions when Hunt has dropped back, surveyed the field, and has seen nowhere to go with the ball. Still, when the opportunities have been there, Hunt hasn't taken advantage.
It's not all bad news for the redshirt sophomore, however. In the second quarter on Saturday, Hunt made a perfect read finding Ashton Broyld on a wheel route. Hunt threw the ball with beautiful touch and dropped it right into Broyld's lap for a big 39-yard gain. Syracuse finished that drive with a touchdown. A flash that the potential is there.
Most of the time, Hunt makes the right read. He has just struggled with accuracy and smaller windows than he saw against Wagner and Tulane. He is a young quarterback who is still learning and adjusting to the speed of the game with receivers who have been below average this season.
The one constant for Hunt has been his legs. He gives Syracuse an added dimension that they have not had in years. Over the last two games, Hunt has rushed for 149-yards and a touchdown. Regardless of the struggles in the passing game, that doesn't go away.
Still, Hunt is a young quarterback with potential that the team clearly believes in. He can hurt opposing defenses with his legs and makes smart decisions more often than not. The accuracy will improve as he continues to grow which will cut down on the turnovers as well. What you see now is not the finished product with Hunt who will continue his development this season and beyond.
For right now, though, he gives Syracuse the best chance to win despite his recent struggles.