The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Syracuse Football: Are Hunt and McDonald both done? UPDATED

Over the weekend, the Confidential wondered aloud if any team/coach has lost their fanbase as quickly as Scott Shafer and the Syracuse Orange have. Since then, the twitter-machine has been abuzz with rumors about the Syracuse offense and changes that may/may not be expected – further evidence that this team’s season is on the brink.  


First, there is the serious question as to Terrel Hunt’s status for Saturday’s game against Florida St., and the weeks thereafter. No official word has been released regarding Hunt’s leg lower body injury, but rumors are that it’s bad and could result in missing a few weeks.

UPDATE #1: Syracuse officials have confirmed that Hunt has a fracture in his leg and will be out 4-6 weeks.

The Confidential hopes that Hunt’s injury is not serious, and that he will have a swift recovery. Hunt is a tough kid and the fact that he may only miss as little as a month is a testament to his toughness.

But in the words of Coach Shafer, “Next Man Up”, which (depending on your perspective) could be a blessing in disguise. Hunt’s struggles with the offense have been well documented over the past three weeks. Something is not clicking, and there are no ready answers to be found. Austin Wilson was serviceable in the win against Villanova, despite Offensive Coordinator George McDonald admitting that he had no game plan in place for Wilson following Hunt’s ejection.

This writer suggested that heading into the Central Michigan game the coaching staff to develop a game plan specifically for Wilson. Hopefully they have heeded this advice, otherwise this will be a critical week for the back-up QB to get up to speed. Fortunately, no one will expect much against Florida State, this is a primum non nocere situation… just go out there and do no harm.

Update #2: George McDonald has been demoted to WR coach, and QB coach Tim Lester has been promoted to Offensive Coordinator. 

The other hot item in the rumor mill is that OC George McDonald has been stripped of his play calling duties and will be replaced by QB coach Tim Lester.

It’s no secret that McDonald’s offense has struggled mightily this season, especially in the red zone.  The Confidential has been critical How much of that is on McD and how much of that is on Hunt? It’s hard to say. Perhaps the OC put too much on his QB. Perhaps the graduation of center Macky McPherson, an anchor of the offensive line for 3 years and an important part of identifying blitzes and defensive packages, puts too much pressure on Hunt to make reads.

But if the rumors are true, and McDonald has in fact been demoted, then barring a miracle turn-around, the wheels on the bus are off and this season is as good as over. Depending on how it plays out, this move could very well be the beginning of the end of Shafer’s coaching career at Syracuse.

Lester has experience as a Head Coach (more so than Scott Shafer) but he has not been an offensive coordinator since his days as a High School Coach. By contrast, McDonald was an OC at Western Michigan and has one fully year of experience as an OC at Syracuse which saw the offense breakout toward the end of the season and carry over into the Texas Bowl.

Would Lester be an improvement over McDonald? Is this move just to satisfy the the fans’ bloodlust for answers/change?

There is an old saying in the sports world: When coaches start listening to the fans, they wind up sitting with them.

Many fans and bloggers have been all but begging for McDonald’s ouster at Offensive Coordinator. It will be highly unlikely that a demoted McDonald will stick around at SU next year – and with it the team will lose its best recruiter. But what good is having great recruits if you cannot use them properly?

It’s a gutsy call, and likely one of desperation by Shafer. But perhaps this will be just the beginning of an attitude adjustment for Shafer that will spill over onto the field…a win at all costs type of mentality.

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5 thoughts on “Syracuse Football: Are Hunt and McDonald both done? UPDATED

  1. Yeah, not sure how well this makes Shafer look. Then again, Dr. Gross may have had a say too.

    I have never seen a coach lose a fan base as fast as Shafer has. For a .500 coach,you would think he was 5-20. But the way the team has looked is much worse than the record.

    • This seems like an act of desperation by Shafer (and probably Dr. Gross), and I fear it will be a situation of “be careful what you wish for”. McDonald’s offense has not been very good, but we’re handing the reigns over to someone with ZERO play calling experience.

      Keep in mind: everyone complained about McDonald’s “on the job training” wonder if Lester will be treated the same.

      if he’s smart, Lester will likely go with an offense based on a power run game, but with a RS-Freshman at QB you can’t expect him to revolutionize the system…still going to have a lot of bubble screens, etc… I don’t think this will satisfy the fans, and may do more harm than good for Shafer & Co.

      Of course, it will be for naught if Shafer still calls stupid timeouts and punts from the opposing 40…

  2. DOLFAN25 on said:

    Don’t worry, you all are going to play FSU. We will find a way to keep you all the game. When I first heard the news I was pissed I wasted my survivor pick on FSU last week, as I was fairly certain UVA would win, but I saw FSU vs Wake as guarantee and was not certain about this week with Syracuse, so I decided to go ahead and finally pick FSU. But come again, Syracuse with a new OC and QB may be so new FSU’s D will take 3 quarters to figure it out. I come expect mediocrity with FSU thus far… so you never know this weekend.

    Anyway I still have ND to pick from this weekend, that is probably fairly likely a ND win over UNC.

  3. Oh and word is coming out now that FSU’s starting Center, WR, and RB are all out due to injury, not to mention the banged up D. Although Greene may still play, so WR is still up in the air. K. Williams is out though it seems, and the center is done until late in the year.

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