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Camp Position Preview: Quarterback

CuseNation.com starts our camp position preview series by taking a look at the Syracuse Orange quarterbacks.

The Syracuse Orange football team starts their first training camp under head coach Dino Babers. Heading into camp, the quarterback position is one that has a lot of questions despite a returning starter. 

Post-Spring Depth Chart

Starter: Eric Dungey  
Backup: Zack Mahoney            
Third String: Austin Wilson                   
Fourth String: 
Rex Culpepper

The Incumbent

Eric Dungey returns as the starter for Syracuse with a brand new offense to learn. The spring provided a start to his learning curve, but his ability to grasp the offense will go a long way towards the success of the Orange this season. 

It seems to be a good fit. Dungey showed promise as a true freshman with decision making, accuracy and the ability to make plays in crucial moments. In Dino's system, the ability to make quick reads and accurate throws in both short and intermediate routes is critical. 

When he was on the field, there were few questions about Dungey. He has the size, skills and can make plays with his legs. The problem, however, was staying on the field. 

Dungey battled injury issues last season, mainly related to taking big hits to the head. He must avoid those and stay on the field this season with big questions behind him. If he plays all 12 regular season games, the offense figures to be more explosive than last season. 

Backup Battle

While Dungey is the presumed starter, there is a giant question behind him. Who will be the primary backup entering week one? That should be one of the more fun battles to watch during training camp.

Each candidate has positives and negatives surrounding them. 

Zach Mahoney rose to the second spot on the depth chart during last season's camp and held onto that position during the spring. Mahoney, despite being a walk-on, is smart, mobile and is a gamer. He just makes plays as is evidenced by his strong performances against LSU and Clemson last season. 

Mahoney, however, struggles with consistent accuracy and does not possess a powerful arm. Those are the concerns with him at the helm. That said, he was clearly the best option 

Austin Wilson enters his fourth year in the program. While he had fallen down the depth chart previously, a new regime represents a chance at a new start. Wilson has a strong arm and throws a beautiful ball. He is a pure pocket passer but lacks mobility. Still, as a pure thrower, he may be the best option behind Dungey. 

Where he has struggled in limited action previously was with decision making. To be fair, that could be inexperience. But it something that has shown up in game action. 

Battling those two is true freshman Rex Culpepper. Culpepper was a big recruiting win for the previous staff. Babers was able to hang onto him, and he enrolled in the spring. That time learning the offense only helps his attempt to rise up the depth chart this fall. 

Culpepper is a talented quarterback with a strong arm who can make plays with his feet. He is a highly intelligent football player as well. But all of that was at the high school level. How does it translate to the college level and Babers offense?

That is the big question mark. Ordinarily it would be tough for a true freshman to make an impact in his first training camp. However, there are special circumstances this season. Battling a walk-on and a veteran who has struggled who are both learning the offense for the first time as well, there is an opportunity for Culpepper. 

Prediction

I expect Dungey to win the job rather easily. That should come as no surprise. The staff will likely want to redshirt Culpepper, leaving him fourth on the depth chart. So who wins the backup battle between Mahoney and Wilson?

Mahoney came out of nowhere to win the job last camp. Can he hold off someone this year? This may come back to bite me in the behind, but I'm going to say Wilson rises up and takes the backup job from Mahoney with an impressive camp. 


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