Syracuse Continues to Struggle with Dual-Threat Quarterbacks
By Jackson Ajello
Going into the Syracuse-Louisville game, the Orange faithful feared that quarterback Lamar Jackson would challenge the Orange defense.
Those fears came to fruition on the game’s first play from scrimmage as the crowd watched Jackson’s pass sail over the heads of the Orange defense and right into the arms of Louisville receiver James Quick for a 72 yard touchdown.
But Jackson was not done. He scampered for three more touchdowns in the first quarter and would finish the game with five touchdowns to go along with over 400 passing yards and just under 200 rushing yards in the Cardinals’ 62-28 win over the Orange.
The struggle with dual-threat quarterbacks for Syracuse defenses is nothing new to fans. Just last season, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson rushed for 105 yards and threw for 368 more. Sure, Deshaun Watson is a nationally known name and was expected to put up big numbers against a midland ACC team. But back in the opening game of the 2014 season, the Orange allowed 115 rushing yards to Villanova quarterback John Robertson in that nail biting FCS victory. And Everett Golson dominated for Notre Dame in 2014 when he threw for 362 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Irish’s 31-15 victory. Even when the Syracuse defenses have managed to contain dual threat quarterbacks in the ground game, they have used their athleticism to torch the Orange.
As the Orange prepare to face the South Florida Bulls at the Dome this week, they will have to watch out for another dual-threat quarterback: Quinton Flowers. Flowers was at the helm of the Bulls’ 45-24 drubbing of Syracuse last season, when he threw for 259 yards and rushed for 55 more to go along with 3 total touchdowns. If history is any indication, it will be difficult for the Orange to contain a South Florida quarterback who can run. BJ Daniels dominated Syracuse in 2014, when he rushed for over 100 yards in consecutive seasons against the Orange.
The numbers may not look great. But the Orange can reverse the dual-threat damage done to them in the past against South Florida. If the defense can contain Quinton Flowers in the running game, they can make him to try to pick apart Syracuse’s Tampa 2 defense all the way down the field. The Orange defense is designed to take away deep passes and force teams to attack by passing down the field. Forcing Flowers to pick apart the defense through the air bodes well for the Orange as the South Florida quarterback has only a 56.9% completion percentage. For Orange fans, making Flowers drive USF down the field through the air can generate a couple turnovers for the Orange defense.