Posted: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013
By Jared E. Smith
In a society where we need to know everything now, the Syracuse football quarterback situation -- deciding whether the starter will be sophomore Terrel Hunt or senior transfer Drew Allen -- is torture for members of the fan base.
The cruelty can only be ended if head coach Scott Shafer decides on a starting quarterback right now! Unfortunately, I have some bad news for Orange fans: you will not know the real starting quarterback until about Week 5 when SU hosts the Clemson Tigers on Oct. 5.
That is, of course, unless Allen or Hunt come in and play lights out against Penn State or Northwestern. But, I am doubting not one of these signal callers, which have never started a game in their lives or seen a decent amount of playing time, will play lights out immediately. And lets be honest, that's asking a lot out of these quarterbacks, which are both learning a new offense -- heck, one has only been here for a few months -- and, again, neither have seen any real game action in their collegiate careers.
So, for a moment, lets slow things down a bit and run through the situation the Orange and coach Shafer are in. Then, I can explain to you why the process on deciding who will be "the guy" and who won't be "the guy" will not be decided this coming Saturday after Syracuse downs Penn State at MetLife Stadium.
First, lets remember that college football does not have a preseason like the NFL does. Sure, there can be a quarterback competition during training camp, but is it truly fair to decide who is the starting quarterback in practice?
("I mean, we're talking about practice man. Not a game. Not a game. Practice.")
Personally, I don't want my team deciding on a starter without seeing them both tested in game situations. Now, if you're OK with that, you're probably the same person who thinks it's OK to promote an employee strictly on a resume or college test scores. I like to find out how my workers work before I decided on who should be head manager.
This is more than likely why coach Shafer hasn't made a decision yet. If I had to guess, the pre-Spring Game plan was to plug Allen into the system during the summer and let him take the job away from Hunt. However, to our surprise, Hunt showed us what he can do in the Spring Game, has been a solid leader in training camp and has made it extremely tough on the coaches to decided which guy should be "the guy."
The next step in the process is to let them play for it, which is what I expect both Hunt and Allen to do against Penn State, Northwestern, Wagner and Tulane.
(At the minimum, I see the quarterback competition lasting until at least Tulane. If one guy proves himself worthy, it allows the coaching staff a full week to prepare for Tulane with one guy, who then can get into a rhyme and ready for Clemson.)
I understand some SU fans have an issue with strategy. You want Shafer to name a starter and to stick with a starter through thick and thin. However, many fail to remember two-quarterback systems are commonly used in college football and have worked. It also would be unfair to not test each quarterback's in-game ability before naming the other guy the starter.
Luckily, Syracuse's schedule sets up favorably for a quarterback situation, as a neutral field game against the Nittany Lions will provide a solid test for both quarterbacks; the showdown at Northwestern is another good non-conference test; while Wagner could be the make-or-break game for somebody. If Shafer needs one more game -- a home game versus a beatable Tulane squad -- then so be it.
The Orange's worse case scenario in this let-them-duke-it-out-for-the-first-four-weeks scenario -- besides both Hunt and Allen being injured by Week 5 -- is the Orange having a 1-3 record heading into Clemson and we're all still undecided on who "the guy" should be. However, I have a feeling, if we all allow for the let-them-play-for-it situation, at worst, SU will be 2-2 overall heading into its first ever ACC game.
All-in-all, I am not pulling for either Hunt or Allen. I am pulling for the right guy to be picked, and I don't see this happening without a quarterback competition during the first four weeks.