Football

Syracuse, Allen go through ups and downs in first practice with pads

Two interceptions in a row.

Sure, it was preseason. Sure, one of them wasn’t really his fault. Sure, he’s still getting used to the offense.

Nonetheless, Drew Allen threw interceptions on consecutive plays on Friday. After those two blunders – and one play where he tripped over an offensive lineman’s foot – Allen responded and played well. Hunt and Charley Loeb also had their ups and downs, making some questionable throws, but bouncing back with some decent ones.

It was Syracuse’s first practice with pads and the first look Orange fans got at Allen, Hunt and the rest of SU’s quarterbacks. Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said it’s difficult for players to jump in right away and play with full contact after not doing so for months.

“Got to go see that tape,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. “There were some good things, there were some ugly things.”

The good, the bad and the ugly was a consistent theme throughout Friday’s practice.

There was a lot of good. The defense was generally staunch. Prince-Tyson Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore ran the ball consistently well. Defensive lineman Isaiah Johnson and cornerback Keon Lyn stood out as well.

There was also a whole lot of bad. Some of Syracuse’s blocking and tackling was inconsistent. Wide receivers missed catchable balls. Passes that should have been completed were poorly thrown and batted down.

And then there was the ugly. And most of it came in a 30-second sequence that Allen wants to forget soon.

The first interception came on a pass to the left side. Linebacker Luke Arciniega picked off the nearly horizontal and seemingly lackadaisical pass with ease and trotted into the end zone.

Some members of the relatively large contingent of fans cheered. But their praising the defense soon turned to discontentment with the offense – mainly Allen.

On the very next play, Allen threw a ball to the right side in wide receiver Christopher Clark’s direction. Lyn swooped in and intercepted the pass.

Allen was visibly upset, holding his hands to his helmet. He then walked over to Clark and asked why he didn’t stop and remain stationary. It seemed like Allen thought Clark made a mistake. Regardless, Allen didn’t recognize the fact that Clark kept going and he shouldn’t have thrown the pass when and where he did.

“I think we need to get a little more consistent with our drops,” Shafer said, “and our timing of getting the ball out.”

After those blunders, though, Allen responded and veered back toward his smooth, giddy, skilled ways. He completed a short pass to Gulley on a simple curl route. It was just like a play he and Gulley had practiced earlier in the day. The two were paired up in a drill and were virtually flawless.

In his next drive, Allen had a nice run, locating an opening in the defense and motoring forward. Allen’s lightness on his feet has stood out throughout the week. His athletic ability permeates everything he does and he looks graceful more often than not.

The defense wasn’t tackling quarterbacks during the drill. If it had been, Allen likely would have been tackled before breaking free. He still looked good, though. Everything looked natural and effortless.

Later on, Allen started one of the highlights of the day. He threw a relatively short, but accurate, pass to wide receiver Alvin Cornelius III. Cornelius caught the ball and jetted downfield, nearly reaching the end zone before Lyn tackled him.

Like with Allen’s run, Cornelius may have been tackled earlier in a real game, but he still looked sleek. Besides the quarterbacks and wide receivers, contact was in full swing during the drill.

It was by far the closest look the media has gotten at Syracuse during the week. Various drills have given an indication of different players’ skillsets and potential, but this drill showed more than any before it.

Despite some bad and some ugly, Shafer said he was relatively pleased with the effort overall, calling it “not bad.”

“We’ve been going without any live action in front of them, so it’s a totally different feel,” Shafer said. “It sounds different, it feels different.”

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