The Syracuse Orange return home next week to welcome the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and while many are calling for a quarterback change it’s not the time. Rex Culpepper struggled with ball security and accuracy against the Clemson Tigers but he should get the start the next two weeks.
If you listened to Dino Babers last week he tried telling you that JaCobian Morgan and Dillon Markiewicz aren’t ready to take over.
“We’re trying to get Rex ready,” Babers said when asked about the chance a freshman might play. “We’re trying to get Rex caught up. The thing I saw last week in the young QBs is that deer-in-the-headlights look. Like, ‘Oh my god, I’m over here with the varsity and I’m getting yelled at by the offensive coordinator and the head coach.’ They’re going through some things they’ve never gone through before, but they’re making strides.”
Morgan saw mop-up duty on Saturday which might solidify thoughts that he was the #2 quarterback right now. We didn’t see anything other than handoffs as the Orange were running out the clock so calling for him to start on Saturday is a bit premature.
Syracuse has home games the next two weeks before they take their second bye of the season. Culpepper should continue to start these games as the staff gives Morgan and Markiewicz more practice reps. If there’s a change to be made, the time period after the Boston College game makes the most sense as the Orange will have nearly two weeks before hitting the road to play the Louisville Cardinals.
The risk of throwing an unprepared quarterback behind an underwhelming offensive line is not an ideal developmental strategy. If Sean Tucker is out then the quarterbacks will be without the best option at running back which is going to make it harder for them to get the offense going. It would be better for Morgan if he is given a package of plays in practice and gets at least a series this week to see what he might be able to do.
The fact that Syracuse lost out on a lot of summer workouts really impacted the practice time since August. As Babers alluded to, most of the practice reps have gone to the starting quarterback as they work to get in sync with new OC Sterlin Gilbert.
We know what we have in Culpepper- he can hit a deep throw and he moves through his progressions quickly avoiding sacks. He is limited in his accuracy and that bit him against Clemson and his turnovers were very costly. Neither Wake nor BC offer the type of defense that the #1 team in the country has so going back to Rex the next two games makes sense.
Planning for the 2021 season is important but you don’t want to stunt the development of the backups by forcing them on the field before they are ready. The Orange hope that Dakota Davis will be back this season and his presence on the interior of the line can help solidify that group. Even if Culpepper starts the next two weeks there will be opportunities for three quarterbacks to see the field, then after the bye we have three more games for Babers to see what his freshmen can do against ACC competition. The extra practice time will give them a better chance to be properly evaluated.