SYRACUSE The decision to hand the keys to either Terrel Hunt or Drew Allen has been difficult enough for first-year Syracuse University football coach Scott Shafer.
For now, Hunt has the starting quarterback job after outperforming Allen in SUs 54-0 victory over Wagner last Saturday. The sophomore will make his first career start when the Orange (1-2) hosts Tulane (2-1) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Carrier Dome.
But imagine if former prep-school star QB Ashton Broyld was still in the mix.
I would love to play quarterback, but you know, thats not the reality of the situation, Broyld said during a phone interview this week.
The reality of Broylds situation is this: After struggling to find a role as a highly touted true freshman last season, he is emerging as one of SUs most dangerous targets in the pass game.
That word potential is still right there with me. I havent done nothing yet, Broyld said.
The 6-foot-4, 221-pound sophomore from Rochester is settling into the H-back position.
Broyld has caught seven passes in each of the last two weeks matching his total from all of last season in each game. His average of six catches per game ranks third among receivers in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 43rd nationally.
The funny thing about it is, I had always wanted to play receiver, Broyld said. When I was a little kid, the first thing I wanted to do was be a receiver in the NFL but for some reason I was always put at quarterback. So I began to love that, but now that Im playing receiver, Im really getting the hang of it.
Broyld said that he arrived at SU in January 2012, expecting to be a QB.
He was the 2010 New York State Class AA Player of the Year at that position for Rush-Henrietta High School.
Broyld was responsible for 48 touchdowns that year, throwing 24 and rushing for another 24, while leading his team to a state title and perfect 13-0 record.
Broyld then played a year at QB for Milford Academy, where threw for six touchdowns and ran for six more.
But last season, with Ryan Nassib entering his senior year during which he broke every major SU career passing record except touchdowns then-coach Doug Marrone said he would find unique ways to get Broyld involved elsewhere in the offense.
The result was a disappointing season for Broyld. He finished with just 224 yards on 43 touches while appearing in eight games. He lined up mostly in the backfield and occasionally played the slot receiver.
I learned how to cope with the freshman struggles, Broyld said. As you get older, the problems re-occur, but as you get older you learn how to deal with it a little bit better. Thats what Im doing now and thats why Ive become a better player.
After taking over when Marrone left to coach the NFLs Buffalo Bills, Shafer pitched the H-back position to Broyld. Shafer explained the position as a do-it-all, kind of talent.
Broyld worked almost exclusively with the wide receivers during preseason camp, after working with the running backs last year.
My first reaction was Lets do it, Broyld said. Im here to help the team win. So wherever they want me at, thats where Im going to be.
Im getting way more comfortable (at receiver), Broyld added. I just love football. If were winning, then its whatever. Im fine.
Broylds background as a signal caller could prove vital in the wildcat formation, which SU fans were given a peek of during last Saturdays victory.
Broyld completed a pass for eight yards in the only play ran out of the set.
I hope (its featured more). I dont know what coach has up his sleeve right now, but hopefully during the season when crunch time comes, hopefully its in there a lot more, Broyld said. Ive been wanting to do it the whole year.
SPRUILL TO REACH MILESTONE
Senior captain Marquis Spruill will make his 40th career start on Saturday, making him tops among FBS linebackers.
Spruill is tied with East Carolinas Derrell Johnson with 39, but Spruill will pass him because ECU is idle on Saturday.
Spruill is the Oranges active career leader with 189 tackles and ranks ninth all-time in SU history with 29½ tackles for loss.
This season, Spruill has recorded 12 tackles, including three for loss, and one sack.
JOE MONTANA COMING TO DOME
Tulane quarterback Nick Montana is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana. The Green Wave junior told a Syracuse radio station this week that his father plans to be at Saturdays game.
The 6-foot-3 Montana has completed 57 percent of his passes for 706 yards and seven touchdowns to just two interceptions, leading Tulane to a 2-1 start in his first year starting under center.
Joe Montana has one other son, Nathaniel, three years Nicks senior. He played quarterback at Notre Dame, Montana and West Virginia Wesleyan. He is an NFL free agent after going undrafted in April.
HILDRETH BACK IN AREA
Jenn Hildreth, a 1995 graduate of Norwood-Norfolk High School, is covering Saturdays SU game as a sideline reporter for the ACC Regional Sports Network.
The game is available on the MSG Plus channel to Time Warner Cable subscribers.
Hildreth starred in girls soccer, basketball and track and field for the Flyers.
DOME ADVANTAGE NEGATED
SUs home-field advantage in the Carrier Dome wont be quite as beneficial as usual on Saturday.
Tulane is one of the other five FBS schools that play their home games in a domed stadium The Louisiana Superdome.
The other three teams are Idaho, Georgia State and Texas-San Antonio.
Sportswriter Josh St.Croix covers Syracuse University football for the Times and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.