Second-string QB a question mark

For the first time since Donovan McNabb departed the SU hill following the 1998 season, there is no question who will be the starting quarterback for the Syracuse University Orangemen as they kick off the 2003 campaign against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels on September 6 at Chapel Hill.

It's no mystery that R.J. Anderson will get the starting nod. But what happens if Anderson goes down. Who is the backup?

Four players will be battling for the backup spot this preseason. Sophomore Xzavier Gaines, who played in five games last season, and was a member of the 2003 National Champion Orangemen hoop team, has the most experience. Senior Darryl Kennedy was moved to quarterback in the spring and took plenty of snaps after Perry Patterson went down with a knee injury which required surgery. Kennedy was a quarterback throughout his scholastic career and at Nassau Community College. Patterson has been cleared to practice, which is a surprise in itself, since most felt he wouldn't be ready to go until at least October. Joining Gaines, Kennedy and Patterson at quarterback is freshman Matt Hale.

All four will be battling for the job behind Anderson.

"I would say right now competing very hard-obviously we moved Darryl Kennedy over there, but he has played a whole lot of quarterback in his life. Xzavier Gaines has worked very, very hard. I think we'll see Perry Patterson way ahead of schedule," Pasqualoni said.

"Perry practiced this morning and he did everything anybody else did this morning," Pasqualoni said referring to the Orange's first practice session on Monday. "We didn't scrimmage. If we had scrimmaged, he would not have scrimmaged, but he did everything that everybody else did. After practice he said his knee felt fine. We'll go one day at a time and keep an eye on him, especially this week. We won't go crazy this week."

Gaines moved to wide receiver from quarterback prior to the start of the 2002 spring practice and then returned to quarterback for the 2002 season. In high school, he played one season of football. He completed 76-of-126 passes for 846 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 74 rushes for 523 yards and nine touchdowns.

Kennedy played in eight games last season, including six as a fullback and eight on the kickoff and kickoff return special teams. At Nassau Community College, he ranked second nationally in scoring among all junior college non-kickers with 126 points.

Patterson made the travel squad for all 12 games, but redshirted in 2002. He had 3,350 passing yards and 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions during his high school career. He rushed for 1,243 yards and 21 touchdowns on 184 carries.

Hale threw for 14 TDs and ran for four more in his senior season. He captained his team to an undefeated record and the Wilson Conference championship in his junior year.

Pasqualoni is confident that Anderson will get the job done this year and said there is no added pressure on him because he doesn't have a veteran backup.

"We're finally to the point where this is Robin's senior year. Troy Nunes or any other experienced guy isn't there. He's a captain of the team; this is his deal. I think his own competitive nature puts all the self-imposed pressure there can be and I don't think the pressure from the outside will be as great as the focus and urgency that he himself feels."

Want more on the QB situation? Check out this month's issue of The Juice.

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