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Quarterbacks Battle To Replace Nassib

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Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

For the first time since 2009, someone other than Ryan Nassib will start at quarterback for Syracuse. The three-year starter is graduating and moving on to the NFL, leaving the Orange with a huge hole to fill in Scott Shafer’s first year as head coach.

Shafer, who served as the team’s defensive coordinator for the previous four years, must find a starter out of an extremely inexperienced group. Who emerges from that group will depend heavily on what kind of offense Shafer and new offensive coordinator George McDonald envision.

Under previous head coach Doug Marrone, Nassib led a pro-style offense that had him taking snaps from under center and staying in the pocket, running only when he had to. Marrone came from the NFL and employed many of the pro game’s tactics. Shafer seems to favor the same style, although his recent comments suggest that he wants a bit more of a runner than Nassib was. Does he want a quarterback who runs the ball 15 times a game? Probably not, but as a defensive guy he knows how difficult it is to defend a quarterback who is a threat to run.

It’s unclear what style McDonald prefers. McDonald, who came from coaching the wide receivers at the University of Miami, has spent two years as an offensive coordinator – 2005 and 2006 at Western Michigan. Neither of those teams featured a running quarterback.

The personnel left behind by Marrone leave Shafer and McDonald with different options.

Redshirt senior Charley Loeb, senior John Kinder, junior Terrel Hunt and freshmen Mitch Kimble and Austin Wilson will compete for the starting quarterback job and feature various skill sets. Kinder, Hunt and Kimble are dual-threat quarterbacks, while Loeb and Wilson are traditional, pro-style pocket passers more in the mold of Nassib.

Loeb has thrown just six passes in his career, while Kinder and Hunt have yet to make a single attempt. Kimble and Wilson will not be in the mix until they arrive this summer.

Loeb, Kinder and Hunt have all taken first-team reps so far in spring practice, so it’s too early to tell if one of them has separated himself from the pack, but which one takes more of that burden as spring progresses will give a glimpse into what the offense will look like in September.