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Syracuse Football Roundtable: Wagner Review/Tulane Preview

Welcome to the Syracuse football roundtable! This week, TNIAAM's esteemed panel reviews the trouncing of Wagner, while looking ahead to Saturday's matchup with Tulane.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, we won a game! And Syracuse didn't struggle win it like we normally do versus FCS teams, either -- we crushed the Seahawks. At the end of the day, however, it's still Wagner though. So don't get used to 54-point outputs until we do so against a FBS opponent. Plenty to be excited about for the Orange faithful just the same though, as we're 1-2 and are facing a very manageable game this weekend with a brand new starting quarterback.

As is and will be the norm all season, we've opened the floor to the TNIAAM football wing to discuss this week's burning questions about Syracuse on- and off-the-field, the ACC and more. Join us below...

When did you know Drew Allen's time as Syracuse's starting quarterback was over?

Andrew Pregler: The moment Drew Allen was booed off the field. At that point, it was apparent that the offense could not do any worse with Hunt under center and that no matter what Hunt did, it would be perceived better than Allan. At the end of the day, I think Allen had his chance and lost it fairly.

Sean Farrell: It became pretty clear by the end of Hunt’s second offensive series. Hunt was extremely impressive on his first drive. He went 3-3 for 30 yards. All three completions were on third down, yet he seemed very confident on each attempt. He moved through his progressions much faster than Allen and looked like a player who has been in the system for a few years. At that point, it was only a matter of whether Hunt could repeat it.

The Invisible Swordsman: As soon as Terrel Hunt hit the field and drove the team effortlessly down the field for a touchdown. It was the end for the Seahawks, and the beginning for both our No. 10 and Syracuse's season.

Matt McClusky: After the first drive of the game Saturday. Allen was clearly pressing and, given the way Terrel Hunt had played in mop-up duty against Northwestern, it was obvious a change was needed. And in the interest of full disclosure, I was totally against Hunt even taking reps against Wagner in the first place. I thought it would be bad for Allen and the team. As it turns out it, Hunt's taking time at quarterback was in fact bad for Allen but ultimately very good for the team.

Dan Lyons: As soon as Terrel Hunt entered the game. However, I'm not convinced we've seen the absolute end of Drew Allen's career here. Remember -- while Terrel played exceptionally well, it was still Wagner, and he hasn't been thrown into the fire like Allen has. I don't think for a second that Hunt loses the job from here on out, but I do expect Allen to get snaps against Tulane, and he should. The coaches should gather as much information as they can over the next two weeks about their quarterbacks before we get into the real meat of this schedule, the ACC slate.

Jared Smith: When he got a first down on his first offensive possession. I know it sounds cruel, but COME ON Allen. How can a starting quarterback go three-and-out against Wagner three times with a negative total of passing yards? Again, I dislike piling onto a guy because that's not how I usually roll, but Allen was pretty bad in his time as Syracuse starting quarterback and Terrel Hunt was productive. I hope this doesn't kill Allen's confidence, if he gets a chance to play QB again, but lets just all hope that this is Hunt's job for the long haul.

Sean Keeley: As soon as Terrel Hunt came in and led Syracuse to a touchdown in the Wagner game. Hunt sealed the deal by once again doing the things that Allen couldn't. And while it's fair to remember, "it's only Wagner," the unfortunate flip-side to that is that Allen couldn't even get it down against them until all the pressure was off.

John Cassillo: When Terrel Hunt came in against Northwestern. I knew he wouldn't assume control immediately, but it seemed like a foregone conclusion after he jumped right into the offense and made the second team look better than the one Drew was leading up to that point. Drew could've hung onto the job for another game or so if he'd performed against Wagner. But he didn't, and now we're here.

Who (other than Hunt) were you most impressed with versus Wagner?

AP: Still Hunt. His quick decision making. Allen never seemed comfortable and never seemed to make a quick read that wasn't designed. Hunt moved through his progressions quickly and was able to spread the ball around instead of targeting receivers. Add in the dimension he brings with his feet and I think it's a pretty great combo at QB.

SF: Rather than picking an individual, I’d like to credit the entire Syracuse defense. What’s notable is that no player had more than five total tackles. That tells me that SU was playing good team defense and everyone is where they needed to be. I’m sure it also relates to the fact that most Wagner drives were simply three-and-out. But Durell Eskridge had a ten-tackle performance against Northwestern. As good as Eskridge was, you don’t want a safety to be in the position to make so many stops. When a defense shuts another offense down that comprehensively like SU did to Wagner, it takes all 11 players.

TIS: Can I just say the entire defense? Yes, it's a FCS school, but you have to play well to hold any team to 87 yards in offense, and that's what our guys did. They looked as angry out there as HCSS was in his postgame presser in Chicago. Loved it!

MM: I'll give the blanket answer of: the defense. It wasn't just a shutout it was a shutdown. Sure you and me and nine of our friends may have been able to force a couple of Seahawk turnovers, but lesser competition aside, I was happy for Chuck Bullough's boys. Maybe, just maybe, the Northwestern game was just an aberration?

DL: This is tough because there were so many good performances, but I'll go with Jay Bromley. As is often the case with interior linemen, the stats don't jump out at you, but he was an absolute force, and a major reason why the Seahawks couldn't get their normally effective rushing attack going at all.

JS: Sounded like Jarrod West plays at another level with Hunt as QB. For Syracuse's passing attack to be where it needs to be for Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley to be productive, West needs to play at a No.1-wide receiver level. I was glad to see have a sort of breakout game. Also, I like how Syracuse is slowly working in Ashton Broyld as a WR. His touches keep going up and up.

SK: I just found it very impressive that Jarrod West was able to play composed and put together a huge game on the same day he found out his grandfather had died. Amazing fortitude and I'm sure he was inspired at the same time. I was impressed by a lot of folks in the WR corp, really. Feel like those guys are ready to shine now that there's a quarterback throwing it to them.

JC: George Morris II, since everyone else went with defense for the most part. On just nine carries, he rushed for 56 yards and gave us a glimpse of the future. Morris is never going to be all that involved in this offense -- too many other, more experienced players need to touch the ball for that to be the case. But he's showing off just how deep this group of running backs is, and how set Syracuse looks for the future at that position.

Assess the overall magnitude/benefit of the new practice facility:

AP: I know I've been talking about Syracuse at least matching the facilities of other schools in our general profit bracket in order to lure in recruits, so this is a great step. I think that in reality, it's not going to do too much more for the school and athletic program unless Nike does what it did with Oregon and continually pours some money into it to make it state of the art year after year.

SF: I welcome anything which would help Syracuse recruiting. Certainly new construction and new facilities will help. But I think Scott Shafer had the right idea in last week’s press conference: the best thing he can do for the marking department (and the overall athletic department) is win games. The potential benefit of the practice facility is nullified if not paired with a successful football team.

TIS: Until now, our facilities were a hinderance in our effort to recruit and sign top talent to the program. With the new facility, we are now at parity with the majority of our ACC peers, which should allow us to be a slight bit more competitive.

MM: Magnitude? Hmm...I'm honestly not sure how much the new facility will help. I'm certain a shiny new building with state-of-the-art equipment will absolutely attract recruits and allow Syracuse to move up a little in the college football world. But I'm certainly not expecting SU to suddenly compete with Clemson or Florida State because of a building. Still, Syracuse fans should be excited for not only the facility but for what it represents. In one way or another the university has put its money where its mouth is, committing to football in a big way. Again, that won't instantly lead to top-10 teams, but it will factor in Syracuse staying away from the football abyss.

DL: It's pretty huge. A lot of us are pretty used to Syracuse being behind the eight ball on things like this, but based on what we know about the facility, it will be very competitive if not among the top of the pack for SU's football peer group.  Someone is going to read this and say "but, Oregon...", but really.  There is no reason to compare Syracuse, or any other school's situation, to Oregon.  As for those programs who don't receive crazy gifts from bottomless Nike coffers, it appears that SU has done well for itself with this facility, and it can only help on the recruiting trail.

JS: The new indoor practice facility could be just as impactful as the Carmelo K. Anthony Center. Look, it is very impressive to walk into the basketball facility and be impressed (if you never got a chance to see it, do yourself and favor and do that). Now, if the new indoor facility can pay homage to Syracuse football like the Anthony Center does, it could help new recruits understand the tradition at Syracuse more. Not only that, but getting brand new whatever is always a good thing.

SK: I think its probably hard for fans to really appreciate it but having a dedicated place that is always football-first for these guys is probably a huge boost to their egos and quality of practice. We'll probably hear more about the effect on recruiting, which it certainly will have, but I bet the day-to-day impact will be bigger than we realize.

JC: Won't even go into the level at which Alabama and USC can beat us in terms of indoor facilities. But look within our own conference and Clemson's indoor facility. How on earth are we supposed to compete with them for recruits when we're being thoroughly outpaced in college football's arms race. Some seem to doubt the necessity of the facility for SU, but look at how well recruiting's gone in basketball since the Melo Center was built. Players want to see themselves treated well and having sports-specific buildings is a step in the right direction, and will help us win the local and national recruiting battles we've been losing.

Quick thoughts on Syracuse's new chancellor?

AP: Meh. He's a Hoya. I'm more uneasy about Chancy Nancy leaving for a lesser role, continually decreasing academic rankings and swirling suspicions year after year right before this move. I feel as if the new chancellor is going to be cleaning up a lot of old messes.

SF: I do find it strange that the man who will one day conduct my college commencement went to Georgetown. But I guess it’s not as strange when the alternative is someone who is leaving our beautiful university for Rutgers. Ahem… Rutgers-Newark.

TIS: He's much taller than the old one...

MM: For me, giving thoughts on an administrator is like discussing quality offensive linemen. I'll let everyone else pretend to be an expert and then take their word for it.

DL: Based on what I've seen, he seems like a good enough guy.  It's really hard to judge these things in real time; a lot of people struggle with what Cantor's lasting legacy at Syracuse will be like, and we may not know for a few years after she has left. So far those, it seems like Syverud has said and done all of the right things, and he has a strong background from some elite (and one despicable) academic institutions.  f I were a law student/alum, I'd be especially excited, because it seems like getting that school back on track was in mind in making this hire.

JS: His name sounds funny. That's basically all I got.

SK: Seems like a chancellor type. He's said all the right stuff so far when it comes to putting down Georgetown. We'll have to find out what kind of role he'll play, if any, in influencing athletics.

JC: Glad we brought in someone to fix our declining academic rankings under Cantor, despite her work increasing both our "insights" and "change" during her tenure. I'm curious how involved he'll be with athletics, though. DOCTOR Gross has built an absolute machine at this point, so might as well let him keep at that. We'll see if Syverud gives him the freedom to do so.

What does Tulane have to do to beat the Orange on Saturday?

AP: Rattle Terrel Hunt with some great play from the front seven. Now that the move to Hunt has been made, there's no going back and Hunt will have to battle whatever storm the Green Wave draw up. By getting pressure with the front seven and shutting down the running game while making Hunt uncomfortable, Tulane will force Hunt to win the game for the first time in his Syracuse career.

SF: Well, that Joe Montana guy is a pretty good quarterback. He could give the Syracuse secondary a tough day. /Looks closer at Tulane roster //Oh, never mind.

TIS: Even at 1-2, Syracuse is a big upgrade in terms of talent compared to Tulane's most recent opponent, Louisiana Tech. Tulane struggled through the first half but benefitted from a big turnover inside La Tech's own 5 yard line to break the game open. They are going to need a few gifts from SU this weekend, and steady play from Nick Montana to have a chance at a win.

MM: We all know winning the turnover game is the key to EVERY game, so I'll spare you my thoughts on that and say the key for Tulane will probably be to pressure Hunt. The sophomore quarterback has very much looked the part so far this season, but that was against Northwestern scrubs and Wagner...Seahawks. While Tulane isn't Alabama, or even Boston College, it is a team much more equipped to at least hang with Syracuse and be pesky. There is nothing more pesky than forcing a young quarterback to make rapid response decisions or to scramble for his life. That's one thing Hunt hasn't had to do in the limited time he's played.

DL: Successfully attack Syracuse's secondary, bait Hunt into some bad throws (Tulane has a statistically strong secondary, and this is his first start, after all), and win the special teams battle.

JS: Hurt Terrel Hunt early on and make Drew Allen beat them. Right now, there's just a lot of momentum on offense with Hunt that I don't think the Green Wave can stop. However, Tulane isn't Wagner, so maybe the physical match ups will not be there for Syracuse, but Tulane's only hope is to hope the Orange's offense goes back to its stagnate ways and a few big plays go their way.

SK: Hurt Terrel Hunt and score points. I don't have much faith in a Drew Allen-led offense in a track meet right now.

JC: Spread the secondary thin and score early. If Tulane can get some points on the board and force Hunt to play from behind, we'll see how our young quarterback reacts. Allen didn't play well in these situations, but outside of the one drive against NU, no one's sure what Hunt can do when he's trying to tie/win a game.

What must Syracuse do in order to defeat the Green Wave by a respectable margin?

AP: Let's see some great offense with Hunt. Against Wagner, a balanced playbook saw Hunt, Jerome Smith and PTG all play to their strengths as a unit. Against a much better defense, I'd love to see that cohesion continue and see just how comfortable Hunt is with a hurry up pistol/spread offense. I'm banking on the side of optimism and saying that Hunt throws for 200 while Smith and Gulley combine for another 150 on the ground.

SF: In South Alabama’s 41-39 win over Tulane, the Jaguars rushed 44 times for 3.8 yards per carry. Last week, Syracuse rushed 48 times for 4.9 YPC. Jerome Smith will rush for over 100 yards and Terrel Hunt’s offense will easily outscore the Green Wave.

TIS: More of the same from last week. Aggressive, defense and a very balanced offensive attack are hard for anyone to stop, and I really sense that SU found themselves Saturday afternoon. I can't say they are the class of the ACC, but we saw that they are a much better team than what we saw in NJ and Chicago.

MM: Defense, Defense!, DEFENSE! I'm liking the way Hunt is playing, and between Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley, Syracuse could evolve into a fairly effective offense. But the reason the Orange had their chances against Penn State and beat-down Wagner was because of defense. It's the team's calling card this season, no question about it. So Bullough needs to forget about Northwestern and get his boys flying all over the place like they did for the majority of the Lions and Seahawks games. Here's betting the crowd will be slightly bigger this Saturday than it was last Saturday, making defense all the more easier to play for Syracuse.

DL: Establish the run, get pressure on Montana, contain Ryan Grant, and have Hunt continue to play the way he has so far this year, and everything should fall into place.

JS: Keep things moving on offense. I really would love to see Terrel Hunt have another big game, but this time against a FBS team. That way, the fair-weather fans can stop saying, "well, it was just Wagner," and at least gain some confidence that this team can hang with Clemson the following week. If Syracuse's offense struggles and we don't rack up some points, well, we will enter our next game as huge underdogs and with very little confidence.

SK: Play the same game they played against Wagner. Control the tempo on offense, establish both the run and the pass. Score points. Limit mistakes. I feel like the rest will take care of itself.

JC: Keep the pressure off of Hunt and he should avoid turnovers. If Syracuse can get out to an early lead and just keep pressing, we should be in good shape come halftime. The team also got to running the ball better against Wagner, which is something to expect here too. We've got a lot of different backs with different running styles to keep Tulane off-balance. Might as well use them all.