Syracuse, Scott Shafer, Quarterbacks, and Injuries
Everyone has heard of the Sports Illustrated jinx. And then there is the Madden Curse, applicable to the cover player on the famous game produced by EA Sports. And now we are in Year 3 of the Scott Shafer season starting QB jinx/curse. Consider…
In 2013, Scott Shafer designated Drew Allen as the QB. By Game 3, the QB was Terrel Hunt, who went on to lead Syracuse to seven wins, a bowl game victory, and anointing as the next great Syracuse QB.
In 2014, the aforementioned Hunt was ready to do big things for Syracuse. However, he did not last until halftime of the opener, being ejected. Later, he suffered a season-ending injury. Along the way, several other QBs went under center for the Orange, including AJ Long.
In 2015, with Hunt returning, there was promise for the QB position at Syracuse. Once again, however, Hunt did not last through the opener of a game against an FCS opponent–this time rupturing an achilles tendon. Long was not there to step in, having suffered his own injury before the season started. Thus, Shafer turned to true freshman Eric Dungey. Dungey led Syracuse to a victory and now has the starting QB nod.
That is three consecutive years where the August starter will not finish the season. In 2013, it was ineffectiveness. In 2014, it was injury–but trending towards ineffectiveness also. In 2015, it was solely injury (although Hunt did not look good against Rhode Island either).
In any event, Dungey finished a second consecutive opener for Syracuse against an FCS opponent and now is the starter. At least until he gets hurt, as most Syracuse fans who have lived through the past decade cannot help but think.
And why not? The QB position has been very unsettled since Donovan McNabb left town after the 1998 season. Look at the names of the QBs to get major playing time:
- 2014: Hunt, Wilson, Long, Kimble
- 2013: Allen, Hunt
- 2012: Nassib (all but one QB pass attempt)
- 2011: Nassib (all QB pass attempts)
- 2010: Nassib (all but 5 QB pass attempts)
- 2009: Paulus, Nassib
- 2008: Dantley, Robinson
- 2007: Robinson, Dantley
- 2006: Patterson (all but 6 QB pass attempts)
- 2005: Patterson, Fields
- 2004: Fields, Patterson
- 2003: Anderson
- 2002: Nunes, Anderson
- 2001: Nunes, Anderson
- 2000: Nunes, Anderson
- 1999: Nunes, Williams
The old saying of “having two quarterbacks means you have none” applies to several seasons. The law firm of Nunes Anderson hovered around the .500 mark, but in subsequent seasons the instability of the position has led to several seasons with less than 5 wins. Note that that 2010 to 2012 involved two bowl games and a period of stability/health involving Nassib. Was Doug Marrone a good coach or just fortune to have a healthy, productive QB for three straight seasons?
Obviously, Syracuse needs Dungey to stay healthy. That applies to all football teams on all levels. But for Syracuse stability over a multiple-season stretch would be even better. Of course, that just leads to the potential jinx/curse of having Dungey named the starter heading into 2016. Yet another reason why it is tough to be a Syracuse football fan. Sigh.
There are some apologists at another syracuse blog that are already giving Shafer a pass on this season because of the injury bug…but I’m not so sure I can agree with that. In fact, the bigger question is why hasn’t Shafer & Co. done a better job of developing more depth at the QB position….including, but not limited to, finding a higher quality transfer (even if they have to sit out one year).
Look at the back-ups over the past two years: Long (injured), Wilson (Injured, not very good). Alin Eduoard was a non-qualifier. Mitch Kimble transferred. Kentarius Womack and Troy Green were moved to WR. Zach Mahoney is a walk-on (I think).
I realize this staff had high hopes for Hunt and they expected Dungey to play some this year, but my confidence in this coach staff is not very high.