Orange prepare for the beginning of the Scott Shafer era

A few key starters return, but a fierce five-way quarterback competition headlines the beginning of preseason.

With only 26 days left until the season opener at MetLife Stadium against Penn State, Syracuse’s first football season in the ACC is almost here. This season will also mark Scott Shafer’s first as a head coach. Since 2009, Shafer served as the defensive coordinator for the Orange. And last season, Shafer’s defensive unit ranked seventh in the nation.

Photo: Lenny Christopher
Quarterback Drew Allen speaks with the media on Sunday, Aug. 4. He is in a five-way quarterback competition to start for the Orange after transferring from Oklahoma this year.

“Everyone is going to be excited day one,” Shafer said. “It’s always fun when you open up camp because the kids are fired up and ready to go.”

The team will benefit from returning key players like linebacker Marquis Spruill, running back Jerome Smith, and center Macky MacPherson. Spruill will move back to playing middle linebacker this season.  The transition to playing in the middle won’t be difficult for him because he played that position during his sophomore season.

Spruill says he is confident in his defense going into this season.  In order to continue their success on defense, Spruill says they need to “just focus on getting better everyday; every practice, in the film room, on the field, off the field, extra study time, extra meeting time, everything.”

On the offensive side of the ball, no one at the media day had a bigger smile on his face than Smith. He ran for 1,171 yards last season and is excited to get back onto the field.

Since the move to the ACC, Smith and his teammates have heard what people have been saying about their program. 

“A lot of people don’t respect us,” he said.

In order to change minds, Smith says the team needs to play “hard-nosed” football like Shafer tells them to.

“We’re ready to go,” he added.

Smith says he is also confident in the lineman he has this year.  The group returns three starters: Sean Hickey at left tackle and Rob Trudo at left guard, and Macky MacPherson at center.

Going into his third season as the starting center for the Orange, MacPherson is the leader of the offensive line.

 “It’s important for continuity on offensive line, especially for a successful offensive line,” MacPherson said.

A position battle to watch will be at quarterback.  Since Ryan Nassib graduated and left for the NFL, there are five quarterbacks competing for the starting job.

In the pre–season depth chart, sophomore Terrel Hunt was listed as the starting quarterback as of June 25.  Senior Charley Loeb, who has been waiting for his shot at starting, will also be competing for the job. Drew Allen, a senior transfer from University of Oklahoma, will also be apart of a heated quarterback battle. Junior John Kinder and freshman Mitch Kimble and Austin Wilson round out the list of potential starting quarterbacks.

But for MacPherson, it’s not what the pre-season depth chart says, but what the player does on the field. “The guy who is going to help us win the most games,” he says, will be his new quarterback for the 2013 season.

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