Football

Hass: Allen, Hunt each deserve to play 1 half each against Wagner

The time has come. No, not to give Drew Allen the ol’ cowboy boot.

Merely to give Terrel Hunt a chance.

It’s a chance he deserves, especially after showing on Saturday night that he can command an offense.

Here’s my proposal: Play Allen in the first half and Hunt in the second half against Wagner this Saturday. It doesn’t matter if Allen goes 42-for-45 with six touchdowns or 3-for-29 with five interceptions.

He could have a Mark Sanchez-esque butt fumble or put together a Peyton Manning-type masterpiece. It doesn’t matter. Keep him in the entire first half and swap him out for Hunt at halftime.

Using Wagner as a guinea pig makes a whole lot of sense. The Seahawks lost to Division-II Merrimack College. They beat Georgetown by only a touchdown.

Not only does the half-and-half system give the coaching staff a live-game look at both quarterbacks, but it also inspires each to put on a strong performance.

Elite athletes thrive under pressure. Or at least they should.

Football is all about reacting in pressure-packed situations, so seeing which quarterback responds better to the task will give the coaching staff a sense of who should play in Week 4.

I think this is a fair compromise and a decent solution to the million-dollar question. Practice hasn’t been open to the media since Aug. 21 — 10 days before SU’s season-opening loss to Penn State — so I really don’t know which quarterback should start.

Starting Allen in the first half and Hunt in the second wouldn’t hurt Syracuse’s chances of winning the game in any way, shape or form. It would simply give the staff a better glimpse into the kind of quarterback Hunt is in a real game.

On Saturday night Hunt was clean as a whistle. He sparked Syracuse to a touchdown and looked extremely relaxed both in and out of the pocket.

Hunt already has the trust of his teammates and has developed chemistry with key returning players, which may help him eventually get the starting nod.

Or maybe the staff will find Allen’s reward is worth the risk. After all, he has thrown for 468 yards in two games and shown that his cannon downfield is every bit as tantalizingly useful a gizmo as advertised.

But the interceptions have come in bunches. Six picks in two games isn’t going to cut it if Syracuse wants to salvage its already eroding season. Four picks in a game against Clemson and the score will be 59-3 before you can say, “Tajh Boyd for Heisman.”

So maybe Hunt should get the nod. His mobility is optimal. His arm doesn’t have as much pop as Allen’s, but for all we know maybe he’ll make better decisions under pressure.

“If we’ve got to play one we’ll play one,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. “If we’ve got to play two we’ll play two.”

The seesaw sways back-and-forth. The truth is we really don’t know.

Rather than choosing one quarterback or the other, I’m simply advocating that both play against Wagner. It’s the best way to derive accurate data. From there, the staff can make an informed decision about whom to start against Tulane.

The quarterback situation is a disaster. A change needs to be made. That change may not end up actually being a change. Perhaps Allen is the best option. Or maybe it’ll be a drastic change if Hunt sizzles his way through Wagner like he did Northwestern’s second team.

I say Shafer sits both quarterbacks down and tells them the situation. One half. Earn the job. Essentially start from scratch. There’s not much else to do. Playing Allen clearly hasn’t been working and playing Hunt may not either.

Heck, maybe throw Charley Loeb in there for a quarter.

Trevor Hass is an asst. sports editor at The Daily Orange, whose column appears occasionally. He can be reached at tbhass@syr.edu or on Twitter at @TrevorHass.

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