Next man up for SU - Who will it be?

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer won't name a starting quarterback prior to the Saturday tilt with No. 1 Florida State, so breaks down the case for Austin Wilson, A.J. Long and Mitch Kimble to replace the injured Terrel Hunt.

Player Height Weight Experience High School Rating High School Rank
A.J. Long 6-foot-0 177 lbs. None 2-stars NR
Austin Wilson 6-foot-3 214 lbs. 2+ Quarters 2-stars #82
Mitch Kimble 6-foot-4 211 lbs. None 2-stars #101

The Case for A.J. Long

Scout’s High School Eval

”Long has all the makings of a solid starting division one quarterback. Syracuse has added a talented signal caller who should fit into their scheme very well. The dual threat ability to run and pass will keep defenses on their toes, while giving the Orange the freedom to run multiple sets. Long's biggest challenge will be learning the playbook to be able to run Syracuse's up-tempo system.”

High School Highlights

Why Long Should Get The Nod

The smallest and youngest potential signal-caller for the Orange may also have the highest ceiling when it comes to big play potential. This true dual-threat mastered a pair of high school systems, both involving the read-option in a spread theme, and only led his team to multiple state titles as a high-schooler.

Long then enrolled early at SU, beginning his career some nine months ago in January in order to get a head start with another up-tempo, spread look. It has paid off, as Long’s reputation for making big plays has carried over into the practice realm, where Scott Shafer said he’s been the scout team player of the week more times than not this fall.

A plan to redshirt the freshman was seemingly set in stone, but with Hunt injured and the offense in flux after play-calling duties shifted from George McDonald to Tim Lester -- why not give the kid a shot?

The best thing going for Long, especially against a powerhouse like Florida State, is the element of surprise. He has zero appearances at the collegiate level, it’s unclear how much his arm has matured since the prep ranks and he hasn’t even taken many reps with the top group offense prior to this week.

Long’s high school tape flashes brilliance as a runner -- though he’s quicker than fast -- and he’s one to scramble to throw instead of simply taking off. As a thrower, Long has an established deep ball and good enough arm strength despite struggles in the short to intermediate passing game. Again, we don’t know how much he’s progressed in specific areas since then, but his emergence against the first-team defense in practices have stood out over the last month while running the opposing team’s offense. That means Long has flashed in Petrino’s balanced system, Edsall’s wide open look and Kelly’s let’s-rely-on-our-QB-no-matter-what setup. It points to versatility, rapid learning and the ability to simply make plays for Long.

Like Long’s progress, there is also the unknown of Lester’s play-calling style with the weapons in place. I have long (no pun intended) thought that SU’s stable of backs should point to a down-hill, run-heavy attack no matter who the signal-caller is. When it is time to pass, however, that points to having a QB with the ability to get the ball down the field on play-action, and even pull/keep some of those option looks in hopes of big gains and keeping the defense honest.

With the Orange set to face the mighty Seminoles, rolling the dice with a dual-threat, unproven frosh may be its best chance at making a run at shocking the world.

-- John Garcia Jr.

The Case for Austin Wilson

Scout’s High School Eval

”Wilson needs some work while he adjusts to the pro-style offense he will play in college, but the tools are all there. He has the size, arm strength, and accuracy to develop into a solid BCS-level quarterback. The obvious concerns are all very fixable, which is always ideal.”

High School Highlights

Why Wilson Should Get The Nod

Austin Wilson does not have the mobility that Terrel Hunt has, but has a skill set that could be exactly what the Orange offense needs. The Syracuse offensive system is predicated on quick, accurate passes that give the skill position players a chance to make plays in space.

Wilson’s strength is an accurate ball, specifically in the short and intermediate passing game. Spreading a defense and allowing Wilson to scan an opposing defense to find an open area is where he could really help the offense.

Quick slants, bubble screens, swing passes, curls, outs, square ins and skinny posts give new offensive coordinator Tim Lester a variety of options through the air. It will give some of the playmakers an opportunity to make plays, like freshman Steve Ishmael, the emerging Ben Lewis, Josh Parris and others.

Wilson also gives Syracuse a bit of experience. He was thrown into a tough situation in the season opener against Villanova. He finished 11-17 for 89-yards on the night. He proved he can take care of the ball, another critical aspect of head coach Scott Shafer’s weekly game plan. He has shown he can throw an accurate pass in live action against collegiate athletes.

Even that small amount of experience is helpful.

The redshirt freshman has a strong knowledge of the playbook, having been in the program for more about a year and a half. That, combined with a full week of prep, could lead to an efficient performance that helps the Syracuse offense get back on track.

In short, it’s Wilson’s ability to make throws accurately that can help move the chains that make him the right man for the job going forward.

-- Mike McAllister.

The Case for Mitch Kimble

Scout’s High School Eval

”Kimble's biggest strength is his ability to use his legs. He can take off and gain big yards down the field, or scramble to avoid a sack and keep the play alive. That skill set should fit perfectly in the Syracuse offense. He must work on his pocket awareness, quickness of his release, and downfield accuracy.”

High School Highlights

Why Kimble Should Get The Nod

One of the main reasons that Terrel Hunt has had success in the Syracuse offense is his ability to be a threat with his legs as well as his arm. That is why Mitch Kimble should be the guy to lead the Orange until he can return.

You keep as much continuity as possible, and that means a dual threat quarterback who has intimate knowledge of the playbook given how long he has been in the program. The zone-read requires a threat to run as the signal caller, and Kimble has the ability to be that threat.

Kimble may be a more elusive runner than Hunt as well. He has a quicker first step and can get to full acceleration faster. His top end speed is also better than Hunt’s, which could him more big play ability.

The biggest question with Kimble is his arm. His arm strength is not elite, but you can mask that with a lot of designed runs, quick throws and some creativity on offense to utilize his skill set.

If Syracuse wants to be a dynamic, spread, run-oriented offense, Kimble is the guy. Let him take advantage of his running ability and utilize play action to keep defenses honest.

A multi-dimensional rushing attack that takes advantage of the skill set Syracuse has on offense is exactly what the Orange need to be more efficient when they have the ball. In the red zone, it can be even more effective.

Continuing to have a dual threat quarterback without using Long’s redshirt is why Kimble should take the reigns of the Syracuse offense.

-- McAllister.

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