Football

Wilson: Allen’s failures tell more than Hunt’s dominance in quarterback decision

This was the moment Terrel Hunt had waited for since the spring. This was the moment he knows he deserved.

He stepped onto the field for the fourth drive of the game for Syracuse with an unmistakable air of confidence. He cracked some jokes in the huddle, he said, and went to work.

Until that point, the Orange managed just five yards and three points. Almost two hours later, when Hunt left the game for good, he’d completed 15-of-18 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. SU led 47-0.

“Critics is critics,” said Hunt, who was shuffled into the background when Drew Allen arrived from Oklahoma in July. “They’re going to say what they want to say. You just worry about what you can do on the field and not about proving other people wrong.”

For seven series, Hunt made Wagner look like, well, Wagner. He took the field against a Seahawks team that had already lost to a Division II team this season and reminded the announced 33,299 in attendance why there were so many empty seats — this wasn’t a foe to be concerned about.

So temper expectations on Terrel Hunt — he’s not going to play like the second coming of Donovan McNabb any week — but this is now unquestionably his team.

It says much more that Allen once again struggled, this time against a miserable opponent, than it does that Hunt was so dominant.

“We had two Big Ten teams that Drew went up against,” head coach Scott Shafer said, “so I don’t want us all to get down on Drew Allen, because I believe in that kid as well.”

But Allen also got his chance against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent and blew it. He got the first three drives of the game and led Syracuse to five measly yards of total offense. He moved the ball one yard backward through the air, and even after being gifted the ball with a fumble inside the Seahawks’ 20-yard line, the Orange mustered just three points.

It was one thing to struggle against Penn State or then-No. 19 Northwestern, but for a moment it seemed like this was SU’s destiny for the season — a squad with a serviceable defense, but inept on offense.

Then in stepped Hunt. For seven drives he set the world on fire. Six touchdowns, one field goal, 44 points.

Allen came back in and led Syracuse to a touchdown, but by then it didn’t matter — this was Hunt’s team.

“It felt good,” Hunt said. “That’s what you want to do. You never want a three-and-out.”

And he never did. Every possession he’s played this season has ended with an Orange score. Given, they’ve all come in either garbage time or against lowly Wagner, but Allen couldn’t even pick up a first down against the Seahawks in the first three drives of the game.

It seems he had us all fooled — he was never of Oklahoma quality, he wasn’t even good enough to play at SU.

Maybe there was a time when he would’ve been. Maybe if he had come to Syracuse straight out of high school and started as a freshman or sophomore he would’ve become a star, but four years on the bench was too long.

For the first three weeks – his first three collegiate starts – he was quite simply inadequate. You could perhaps win games with Allen as a quarterback, but he wasn’t going to win them for you.

Somehow, that was about to be the case again on Saturday. Syracuse wasn’t going to lose with Allen at the helm — Wagner’s offense was too terrible — but it wasn’t going to pour on the points like it did with Hunt.

“I’m excited as hell about the way he played,” Shafer said. “I really am.”

Shafer said he’d be “surprised” if Hunt doesn’t start on Saturday against Tulane and unless Hunt powers another blowout, Allen probably won’t get back on the field.

He made some plays with his legs — three carries for 22 yards — and more with his arm. Hunt got out of the pocket when plays broke down and fired passes at an average 14.7 yards per attempt.

His final drive started with a pair of handoffs, but Hunt was left with a third and long. These were the plays that Allen could supposedly make. Hunt had to answer one last question.

Jarrod West ran a post over the middle. Hunt launched a pass. The wide receiver hauled it in over the defense for a 65-yard touchdown. Quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said it was the best throw Hunt made all day.

He came off the field with yet another reason to smile. This team is his now, just as he’s always known it should be.

David Wilson is the sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at dbwilson@syr.edu or on Twitter at @DBWilson2.

Top Stories