The QB conundrum: Terrel Hunt versus Drew Allen

Football beat writer Tom Rende tackles the question on everyone's mind: Will Terrel Hunt or Drew Allen start at quarterback?

Syracuse has had the luxury of avoiding a true quarterback competition for the past three seasons ever since ex-head coach Doug Marrone named Ryan Nassib the starter for the 2010 season. Those two remained at Syracuse for the past three season before departing for greener pastures in the NFL, but now Syracuse has a chance to move on, as well. They have replaced Marrone with Scott Shafer and now they are forced to choose between two quarterbacks: third-year sophomore Terrel Hunt and Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen.

The case for Terrel Hunt

During his senior season at Christ the King High School in Queens, Hunt put up numbers displaying his wide array of talent. He completed 62 percent of his passes while compiling over 1,200 yards in the air. That equates to an 8.54 yards-per-attempt, a number that was better than Johnny Manziel’s during his Heisman Award winning season in 2012. As imperative as it is for a quarterback to throw the ball, it is becoming equally essential to be a threat running the ball.

Hunt ran for 1,218 yards and had 12 touchdowns during that senior season. These numbers had Boston College, the University of Connecticut and Rutgers trying to convince him to attend their respective school. Hunt eventually chose Syracuse due to his mother’s blessing after she passed away in 2010.

With no college experience, it’s tough to draw on what exactly sets Hunt apart Allen just from preseason practices. During the spring game Hunt started over Allen, who was still finishing his spring semester at Oklahoma. Hunt took advantage of the extra playing time, throwing for 209 yards and two touchdowns. The game showcased Hunt’s ability to spread the ball and run an offense successfully.

The key for Syracuse in figuring out their quarterback for the 2013 season is predicated on the type of offense they want to run. Up to this point in time it has been more speculation than fact in deciphering exactly what kind of style they will run under new offensive coordinator George McDonald. McDonald hinted at what kind of offense he wants to run, which seems to highlight versatility.

"I want to go as fast as we can to score touchdowns,” McDonald told on Aug. 8 “I don't to put ourselves in a box. Sometimes we will slow it down, sometimes we will speed it up. We will do whatever we can so that we are executing and scoring whenever we can.”

If this is truly the offense SU will be running, Hunt will fit nicely into that system because  he can do more on offense than Allen. This becomes especially important if Syracuse decides to implement more of a pistol-style offense. That offense is a hot topic in the football world and when run properly it can be an incredibly effective strategy. Hunt fits the bill for that kind of offense now and for the future. Remember, it’s a sophomore against a senior and the coaching staff should be keen to move on fresh with Hunt, who could be the quarterback of the future.

The case for Drew Allen

You want a measure of what makes a good starting quarterback? Throwing the ball 70 yards in the air is a good start.

That 70-yard throw was from Drew Allen, the senior transfer from Oklahoma attempting to start for the first time in his collegiate career. At Oklahoma, Allen had two major roadblocks named Landry Jones and Sam Bradford. With those two high-profile quarterbacks, Allen spent most of his time on the sidelines.

But in his limited action on the field Allen threw 18-30 for 160 yards passing, and ran for a touchdown. That small sample size isn’t nearly enough to justify a starting quarterback job, so practice time is where Allen will have to make his mark.

That mark has seemingly been made, after Ashton Broyld gave the Daily Orange some insight on how the quarterback competition is seemingly unfolding.

"I go with Drew most of the time and a little bit of T(errel) Hunt," said Broyld, who is listed as the first-team H-back and has practiced there throughout the summer."T-Hunt gets reps in there, too, because it’s still a battle. We’re just trying to get the hang of each other pretty much."

Broyld isn’t the only player to give some mention of Allen being the likely starter. Another player informed a reporter at The NewsHouse that Allen will be the starter. The writing seems to be on the wall for Allen to start, but why does he make sense to be the starting quarterback?

Arm strength is something that Allen clearly has an advantage in over Hunt and the deep ball will be a key cog in the Syracuse offense. The running game seems to be where the offensive dearth of talent lies and it would be wise to emphasize the run game, forcing teams to stack the box and pay when the big-armed Allen throws over the safeties head. It will give fans a chance to see if he can actually throw the ball 70 yards. 

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