Syracuse gets a reprieve: a bye week
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse is unbeaten after one game. That’s the good news for the Orange.
But there’s a lot of not-so-good as the Orange have a bye week to sort things out following a precarious 27-26 victory over Villanova in double overtime.
Perhaps the biggest concern was starting quarterback Terrel Hunt punching opposing linebacker Dillon Lucas late in the first half last week, prompting an ejection.
Hunt lost his cool after being tackled after a 6-yard run.
Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said Hunt can’t react that way.
“Terrel and I have talked regarding his flagrant penalty and he fully understands the behavior is not condoned and regrets his action,” Shafer said. “He was dead wrong, and that’s why he got penalized and why he got ejected. And the officials made the correct call.”
Shafer said Hunt apologized to the team.
“It hurt him, bad. It was a mistake and he owned up to it,” Shafer said.
The 6-foot-3, 234-pound Hunt was 10 of 17 for 94 yards and ran for 25 yards — on just three carries — before departing. Backup quarterback Austin Wilson, playing his first game for the Orange, was 11 of 17 for 89 yards passing and minus-4 yards rushing, also on three carries.
Syracuse had other issues during the game:
— Its push to a more up-tempo offense came up short against an opponent from college football’s second tier. Syracuse managed only 69 plays, 18 fewer than FCS power Villanova, and a walk-on place-kicker delivered the winning TD throw, not Wilson.
— Syracuse’s run game sputtered despite a solid nucleus of returning players, getting outgained 190-136. Take away Prince-Tyson Gulley’s 65-yard touchdown run, and the Orange netted 71 yards on 33 carries, an average of just over 2 yards per carry.
— If not for Villanova place-kicker Chris Gough’s botched 25-yard field goal attempt with 12 seconds left in regulation, Syracuse would be 11-1 against FCS foes all-time in the Carrier Dome.
“It’s luck of the draw,” Orange linebacker Cameron Lynch said. “You wipe your head, thank God, and keep pushing. We got back out there and made some stops.”
Quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said the team needs the time off.
Shafer pegged eight wins as a goal in the preseason, before the shaky start. Now, Syracuse has a difficult schedule looming. The Orange were 7-6 last fall in Shafer’s inaugural year as a head coach, and that included a bowl victory over Minnesota.
“We need to come back and clean up everything we know we need to clean up and come back with a lot of intensity and hard work,” Gulley said as the Orange turn their focus on a road game next week at Central Michigan.
When Hunt was in the game, he guided Syracuse on a 96-yard drive in the first quarter. It was the Orange’s longest drive since a 98-yard touchdown drive against South Florida four years ago.