Syracuse 27, Villanova 26 — What we learned

Austin Wilson takes over for the injured Terrel Hunt

Syracuse escaped with a 27-26 win over FCS Villanova in the 2014 season opener. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

Hunt needs to display better judgment, maturity

Late in the first half, linebacker Dillon Lucas came crashing in after Terrel Hunt had been tackled, delivering a late hit to the SU quarterback. In retaliation, Hunt punched Lucas while still on the ground, and was ejected from the game. There’s simply no place for this in football, especially when it comes from the most important player from your team. Hunt not only displayed poor judgment, but put his team in a tough position, as backup quarterback Austin Wilson—who never threw a pass at the college level—was pressed into action and was mostly ineffective after a promising first drive. “Terrel and I have talked regarding his flagrant penalty (vs. Villanova) and he fully understands the behavior is not condoned and regrets his action,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said in a release.

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Austin Wilson took over for the ejected Terrel Hunt

Run defense must improve

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. “John Roberson drops back. Roberson flushed from the pocket… but uses his legs to pick up a first down!” It was a recurring theme throughout the night, as Roberson frustrated the SU defense repeatedly with his improvisation. Robertson finished as the leading rusher for the game, picking up 115 yards on 34 carries. With all due respect to the Villanova quarterback, Syracuse will need a much better performance from its defensive line if it’s going to be successful this season. There were flashbacks to last season, with Georgia Tech gained 394 yards en route to a 56-0 win.

Overall, it was an entertaining game

This game had it all: A missed potential game-winning field goal in regulation. A couple of goal line stands from each team. A fake field goal to win on a gutsy call from Shafer and Co. (And a partridge in a pear tree.) I don’t think I can recall a game in recent memory that had as much wackiness as this game did. Then again, neither could the old ball coach. “I’ve been around a lot of them around the years, but that was pretty crazy. You live in the moment and you’re just going one play at a time every 10 or 12 seconds trying to make good decisions,” Shafer said. “What happens is I’ll go home tonight and I’ll reflect and say ‘holy mackerel,’ that was some crazy stuff going on out there.”

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]