Each week over the summer, The Juice Online is going to highlight individual players on the 2016 Syracuse football team. This week, we’re profiling quarterback Zack Mahoney.
Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney was mostly looked at as an afterthought at this time last year.
It was hard to blame anyone for thinking of Mahoney that way. After all, he was a walk-on, buried on the depth chart behind incumbent starter Terrel Hunt, and scholarship backups Eric Dungey and Austin Wilson.
But when Syracuse lost Hunt for the season in its opening game against Rhode Island, and Dungey was sidelined with an injury against Central Michigan two games later, then-head coach Scott Shafer decided to play Mahoney in overtime against Central Michigan.
Mahoney rewarded Shafer’s faith with a perfect 4-for-4 performance and a key 12 yard scramble in a 30-27 win at the Carrier Dome.
Mahoney would go on to start against powerhouses LSU and Clemson, and also closed out the season with starts against NC State and Boston College.
This year, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers has opened up competition for the quarterback spot, declining to name a starter.
“It gets everyone a little more juice because everyone wants to be that guy,” Mahoney said during spring practice. “We all want to compete.”
Mahoney has adjusted well to the new system, which requires quick reads and accurate passes. While Mahoney never struggled with the former, he has spent the offseason refining the latter.
That resulted in 9 for 14 passing in the spring scrimmage for 113 yards and a touchdown.
“The concepts that we have on offense can beat any coverage at any time,” Mahoney said.
“At that point, it’s just make the right read and make the right throw.”
Inside slant: Mahoney seems locked into the back-up role, and after the injuries Syracuse saw last season, that may mean that he’ll see more playing time this year. Mahoney has the experience under his belt now of playing against elite teams, and has looked comfortable in Babers’ new offense.
- Birthdate: May 1995
- Hometown: LaGrange Park, Ill.
- High School: Lyons Township
- Position: Quarterback
- Class: Junior
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 192 lbs
Career highlights: Mahoney started four games, and appeared in eight games, completing 54 of of 117 passes for 535 yards and seven touchdowns. As a freshman in the 2014 season at the College of DuPage, he threw for 1,943 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran for 212 yards.
Jim Stechschulte and Nick Salamone contributed to this report.