Neither Syracuse nor Penn State will say who will start at quarterback on Aug. 31

SU head coach Scott Shafer and PSU coach Bill O'Brien won't choose between each of their respective quarterbacks until just before the first regular season game at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 31.

With the first game of the season a little over a week away, both Syracuse coach Scott Shafer and Penn State coach Bill O’Brien are remaining silent on which quarterback will take the season’s first snap.

So far, it’s been a preseason cloaked in mystery for both the Orange and Nittany Lions.

For the Orange, Drew Allen, a senior transfer from Oklahoma, and Terrel Hunt, a sophomore dual-threat quarterback, have been battling for the starting spot. Coach Shafer hasn’t made any indication which player he will choose, however, saying the decision will be made right before the season-opener against Penn State at MetLife Stadium on August 31.  

“We have two good players and I look forward to seeing them finish it out up until the 31st,” Shafer said Thursday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions are facing a similar situation, with junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and true freshman Christian Hackenberg vying for the starting nod.

And despite telling ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” show on Tuesday that he would name a starter by the end of the week, coach O’Brien, like coach Shafer, said on Thursday that he might not name one until right before the season-opener.

“Might not come until next week,” O’Brien said. “Might come the first play of the game on offense.”

With both teams neglecting to name a starting quarterback it has made game planning tough for both Syracuse and Penn State.

The Nittany Lions could have a tougher time, though, as Allen and Hunt have two very different styles for the Orange. Allen, a pocket-passer with a big arm, won’t receive the same defensive schemes as Hunt, a quarterback who can also run the ball.

Despite the different play styles from Allen and Hunt, O’Brien says he isn’t too worried about planning as he feels the Penn State defense will be ready for whatever it sees.

“I think in this day and age of college football you have to be ready for everything,” O’Brien said. “Whether it’s a pro-style attack or a shotgun attack. We run a lot of stuff at Penn State. We give our defense of lot of different exposure to a lot of different schemes.”  

And while the defenses may have difficulties game planning for two quarterbacks, the offenses could struggle, too. For Penn State, neither Ferguson nor Hackenberg has taken a snap at the Division-I level. The situation isn’t much better for the Orange, as Hunt has never thrown a pass for Syracuse and Allen only totaled 30 pass attempts playing behind Sam Bradford and Landry Jones at Oklahoma.

“Both teams will have growing pains no matter who is under center,” Shafer said. “And that’s part of the game. It’s a great growing experience for both sides.”

While both teams will be going through growing pains on offense, Syracuse is hoping the same won’t be said for the defense. After losing Shamarko Thomas, who led the Orange in tackles last season, to the NFL, the Orange will be looking for a defensive playmaker to step up and take Thomas’ place.

That player could be senior middle linebacker, Marquis Spruill, according to Shafer. Spruill, from Hillside, N.J., was selected as one of four team captains during summer practice.

“We have a good group of guys and we have Marquis (Spruill) in the middle,” Shafer said. “I know he will be excited to play in MetLife because he grew up down the road. We have a good core and we are excited about it.”

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