syracuse football

Not in any Syracuse football fan's worst nightmare would this happen.

Michael Burke/WAER Sports

Terrel Hunt lay on the Carrier Dome turf after a two-yard scramble midway through the first quarter and was being attended to by trainers. He grabbed his helmet with hands. The trainers then had to help him to the sideline as Hunt didn't put pressure on his right leg. 

Michael Tricarico/WAER Sports

  Zaire Franklin fielded the same questions and gave similar responses at both the Atlantic Coast Conference Media Day and Syracuse's opening press conferences.

"I can't believe that I'm here," he told a room full of reporters at ACC Media Day in July. "It's almost surreal that I'm sitting in front of you guys."

The Syracuse offense could only score one touchdown during the team's annual Spring Game on Saturday against a defense that lost seven starters to graduation. 

The day began with a 6-on-7 skeleton drill and some special teams work, but most of the time was spent on live scrimmaging.

Here are a few takeaways from that scrimmage:

Terrel Hunt Struggles

The fourth quarter hasn’t been kind at all to Syracuse this season.

It’s turned back-and-forth games into blowouts, with three quarters of competitive play somehow leading to crooked scores.

Most times, it's taken a few minutes for the fourth quarter damage to kick in.  Against Pittsburgh, it only took eight seconds.  Tyler Boyd took a quick screen 49 yards, untouched, into the end zone on the first play of the quarter. It gave the Panthers a commanding 27-7 lead, one last backbreaker in a season that’s been full of them for Syracuse.

Cole Murphy just wanted to play football.

But when he decided to join his high school team, his parents gave him only one option.

“You can play, but you can only be kicker,” he said.

For Murphy, the decision to kick has been a good one.  The true freshman at Syracuse has been almost flawless since taking over for Ryan Norton earlier in the season. He’s 12-14 on field goals, including a 50-yarder in back-to-back games.

Close, but not close enough.

The theme of Syracuse’s season continued as the Orange lost, 24-17, in heartbreaking fashion to the NC State Wolfpack.

Cole Murphy’s 50-yard field goal and Syracuse’s successful onside kick set up a dramatic finish that few of the 40,787 fans could have expected.  The Orange took over at its own 46 after Dyshawn Davis – by rule – wasn’t able to advance a recovered onside kick.  So Syracuse set up with 17 seconds and no timeouts left, needing a game-tying touchdown.

AJ Long’s picture perfect start to his college career came crashing down to earth with one quick play. 

It was Syracuse’s first offensive play in Death Valley.  The freshman quarterback dropped back to pass and Clemson’s defensive pressure rushed in, as expected, and engulfed the pocket.  Tigers’ linebacker Stephone Anthony dropped Long for a sack.

“He didn’t play very well,” offensive coordinator Tim Lester said.  “He played like a freshman and made a lot of mistakes. He has to take care of the ball better.”


Syracuse’s offense was lifeless in Death Valley.

And the star-studded Clemson defense backed up the hype with a shutdown performance in Memorial Stadium.  The Tigers only allowed two long Cole Murphy field goals and blocked another, en route to a 16-6 victory over the Orange on Saturday night.

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.