AJ Long said this will be one of the most fun games he’ll ever play in his career. When he meets the Clemson defense, he may feel otherwise.
Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) travels to South Carolina on Saturday to face the No. 21 Clemson Tigers, which allows the fifth fewest yards per game in the FBS. Last week, Long ended Syracuse’s four game losing streak with a 30-7 win at Wake Forest. But he realizes he’ll have a harder challenge in his second career start.
He led Syracuse to its first win in over a month. He’s thrown more touchdowns in two games than Terrel Hunt did in five. And he became the first true freshman in team history to win his starting debut.
Even at a young age, AJ Long has shown the traits of a successful college quarterback – the strong arm, the quick feet and the mental confidence.
But Long admits that back in high school, he started thinking he wouldn't be good enough to play Division-I football. There was always that one trait missing: the height.
First, defensive tackle John Raymon beat the odds by recovering from a severe knee injury faster than anyone expected.
On Saturday, he helped the Orange (3-4) beat the Demon Deacons by assisting on Syracuse’s second defensive touchdown of the day.
"I’m very excited," Raymon said this week on returning to football. "My team’s excited, my coaches are excited and I feel like we’re all in a good place and we’re all on the same page now. I’m happy I’m back."
With a pair of injured quarterbacks, Scott Shafer now turns to his third-string passer to try to end a four game losing streak, save Syracuse’s season and, possibly, save his own job.
Syracuse couldn’t upset top-ranked Florida State last week, but Long impressed in his college debut. The true freshman completed 16-of-27 passes for 167 yards against the Seminoles along with two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was a rare bright spot for the Orange, who’s lost each of its last four games by at least ten points.
Even as the off-the-field allegations continue to surface, it was just another day at the office for Jameis Winston.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner completed 30-of-36 passes for three touchdowns. His calm and confident play led No. 1 Florida State in a 38-20 win over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The defending champion Seminoles (6-0) are halfway to another undefeated season.
“To beat the No. 1 team in the country is a very difficult task,” Scott Shafer said. “I really believed this week that we could beat this team, but we didn’t get that done today.”