Syracuse searches for QB, finds another contender
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Ryan Nassib’s replacement for Syracuse won’t be determined until August.
Finding a new starting quarterback never promised to be easy, and the three players in the hunt for the job now have to worry about another. Former Oklahoma backup Drew Allen, on target to graduate in May, is taking the same route as Greg Paulus four years ago.
The 6-foot-5, 226-pound Allen was given the green light by the Sooners after last season to explore other opportunities and is expected to transfer to Syracuse for his final year of eligibility, which would make him available to play for the Orange in the fall.
After the Orange scrimmaged on Sunday, and before new coach Scott Shafer assessed practice, reporters were advised not to ask questions about impending transfers because NCAA rules dictate that staff cannot do so until a student is enrolled.
“At all positions, we’re looking for great competition,” Shafer said. “We’re going to use every day we can before we have to set a depth chart. We’re always trying to create competition by continuing to recruit kids that we think can push the guys in front of them. There’s nothing better than competition to improve a football team quickly.”
In the meantime, fifth-year senior Charley Loeb, senior John Kinder, and junior Terrel Hunt are locked in a spirited competition to replace the record-setting Nassib.
“Right now, I’m happy with what we’ve got in those guys,” said new quarterbacks coach Tim Lester, who also serves as recruiting coordinator. “The guys have stepped up. It’s hard when you think you’re going to be a backup and now all of a sudden you’re a starter. You’ve got to take it to a different level.”
Hunt took more snaps than Loeb and Kinder, but all three had their moments on the outdoor field behind Manley Field House on Sunday.
“Noone’s really stole the job, but I’ve been pleased with Terrel’s improvement,” Shafer said. “But as soon as he has a good day, Charley comes back and closes ground back on him. Between the two of them, I think we have a good competition going on, and John (Kinder) made some good plays. Right now, we’re just trying to put as many reps as we can on tape and take a good look at where we are after these next few days.”
A smattering of Orange faithful attended Sunday’s practice on a blustery day that began with early-morning snow showers. It was a standard practice with drill work and finished with short-yardage scrimmages as the days wind down before Saturday’s annual spring game.
“I was real pleased with the way the kids competed,” Shafer said. “We’ve probably put only about half the offense in and half the defense in that we’ll want to utilize next year. We’ve really been focusing in on the fundamentals.”
And all the reps are great, as far as Loeb is concerned. The process can be wearing, though, as he contemplates a new version of Paulus.
A football and basketball star in high school at Syracuse’s Christian Brothers Academy, Paulus played three years of basketball at Duke for coach Mike Krzyzewski. Paulus graduated in 2009, then enrolled at Syracuse as a graduate student and outdueled Nassib to win the starting quarterback job. In his final year of college eligibility, Paulus acquitted himself well under a new coaching staff, which included Shafer in his first year as defensive coordinator under Doug Marrone.
Almost seems like repeat is coming.
“What I tell the guys is don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” said Loeb, who often speaks with his grandmother to help maintain an even keel. “It’s a situation where I’m going to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well. You have to be sure that you’re not being counterproductive and hurting yourself by putting too much pressure on yourself to try to perform well, not playing within yourself.
“I just hope that I can, through each day, each practice, continue to become more comfortable just running the offense, not trying to do too much.”
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