On a humid summer Saturday afternoon, a pair of heavy machines grumbled through their paces under the sun, keeping progress moving on the construction of the new indoor practice facility for the Syracuse University football team. The ongoing construction was just another reason for the optimism surrounding the team on Media Day, which doubled as the first day of practice for the Orange.
That humidity crept through an open rolling door of the team’s current workout home, Manley Field House, stagnating the air. With these sticky conditions on the Field Turf, sweat dotted senior quarterback Terrel Hunt’s forehead. However, his perspiration was a function of standing in the literal bright lights mounted on television cameras, not one of nerves, as he subtly pushed the envelope on the expectations for the team with a single word.
While Hunt had first acknowledged the team’s stated goal of eight wins and explained he understood that high water mark mentioned by head coach Scott Shafer during his introductory session with the media, he also cited his personal goal was putting double digits in the win column.
There was no braggadocio in this statement, rather a matter-of-fact tone of voice delivered Hunt’s words. That word was delivered just as they were when he summed his play last season with another single word, “mediocre.”
In fact, despite drawing the largest and most hastily-assembled crowd of the day, the quarterback showed more emotion when talking about the heightened expectations for the large wide receiver unit, citing that he would be “scared” to be one of the 17 players fighting for snaps at that position.
As might be expected, Hunt’s attitude was reflected by some of the other players on hand for the media. Other players, namely senior linebacker Cameron Lynch and junior cornerback Julian Whigham, also handled questions with a similar calm confidence, never once stepping across the boundary to cockiness.
Even Shafer, who has been known to let a little emotion show, was mostly under complete control. The head man’s emotion only crept out on a couple occasions, most notably when talking about his excitement about watching the team get on the practice field.
That prevailing calm attitude from its leaders suggests the team understands itself – confident in its abilities, but well aware of the hard work and sacrifices it must make to get maximize them. Those two attributes suggest the team may be closer to Hunt’s goal of ten than many think.Jim Stechschulte (Follow on Twitter @dsafetyguy)