It was far from an ideal start to the season for Syracuse (1-2) and quarterback Terrel Hunt. But after two straight defeats with Hunt on the bench, the Orange finally earned a big win over Wagner last week, and Hunt emerged as an offensive threat, completing 15-of-18 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. So what's next for Syracuse and its up-and-coming quarterback? We asked Hunt for some answers.
Q: The quarterback competition between yourself and Drew Allen didn't go the way you wanted it to coming out of fall camp. How did you manage opening the year on the bench?
A: You just have to prepare like you're the starter. If your number doesn't get called, you keep preparing and doing whatever you have to to be ready. Around here, it wasn't that. Nobody was focused on who was going to start. We were worried about the team and not the quarterback position. Unselfishly, you have to be the same way. You have to worry about the team and put the team first. We want to win games, and you can't rely on one person to win. So it was mainly about the team around here.
Q: Obviously winning is the priority, but Syracuse lost its first two games with you on the bench. What was the feeling in the locker room after the slow start?
A: Really, I'm not sure. The locker room was -- it was upsetting after you lose. You think about it a lot. People start to question each other, but Coach [Scott] Shafer came in and picked us up. He said we were never going to second guess our family, and this is our family. We were going to stick together through thick and thin, when we lose we're going to stick together, and when we win, we're going to celebrate and stick together. He was mainly focused on us sticking together as one instead of us divided.
Q: You finally got your chance last week against Wagner and performed well. Did you view that game as a make-or-break opportunity for you?
A: Not at all. I went out there and just played. I prepared for this moment, so when it finally came, I didn't have to stress myself to say, 'I've got to do this' or 'I've got to do that.' That's when you mess up. So I just went out there and played and had fun. That's when you play your best. Afterward, I said, yes, I maximized my opportunity. But during the game, I was just thinking about playing.
Q: A lot of fans will write off the win as being a function of playing an FCS school like Wagner, but was it important for you guys as an offense to get a feel for how things are supposed to run when everything's clicking the way it should?
A: Exactly. We definitely needed to know, when all cylinders are clicking, this is how we're going to operate. This is how fast we're going to move. This is how we're going to move down the field on people. We definitely needed that, and it was definitely a confidence booster. Even though it was Wagner, no knock to them, but we needed to see how we operate on all cylinders and how good we could be as a team.
Q: After your big game against Wagner, it sounds like you'll have a shot to play more going forward. Do you have a feel yet for how the QB rotation will look the rest of the way?
A: I'm not even sure. I'm just going to go out there and play my game, and hopefully I'll stay on the field and don't come off. Nobody wants to come off the field when you're having fun. Hopefully, I'll go out there, keep playing my game and doing good and help the coaches make the decisions. But right now, I'm just worried about the team, the playbook and the upcoming opponent.
Q: Syracuse has started 0-2 before and still turned in a good season. You have Tulane this week, then all eight of your ACC games remaining. Does that make it easier to focus on what's ahead and what you can still accomplish?
A: We lost two games. It happens. But as long as we turn it around for the ACC games, we still have a lot of games left. As long as we keep pushing, it doesn't matter. People will forget about those two games. We won't, but people will say, 'You guys are great now that you're winning.' At the end of the day, we're all we have, so we're going to keep pushing toward the ACC games, keep winning and keep working.