Hunt, Gulley display Syracuse’s success in zone-read running in loss to Maryland

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ If there were any offensive bright spots in Syracuse’s (2-1) 34-20 loss to Maryland (3-1) on Saturday afternoon, they were the legs of Terrel Hunt and Prince-Tyson Gulley.The Orange offense collected 589 yards of total offense — which were nullified by poor red-zone execution and a host of penalties — and Hunt and Gulley combined for 294 yards on the ground. The pair mostly ran out of the zone-read offense, with Hunt either faking to Gulley and running in the other direction or feeding to Gulley if there was room in front.During training camp, offensive coordinator George McDonald said that Syracuse was a run-first team and he reiterated that after the loss. But Hunt’s ejection against Villanova rendered the running game ineffective and SU’s steamrolling of Central Michigan disguised any definitive offensive scheme.That leaves the two-touchdown loss to the Terrapins as the Orange’s offensive barometer, and it hinted to what SU could lean on when it faces No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday.“I was just playing the game. Sometimes I would read something and if it wasn’t open, I’ll hitch out,” Hunt said. “I knew they were blitzing from a certain side so they were weak on that side so I just took off and tried to make something happen.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn Syracuse’s 40-3 win over the Chippewas, Hunt was successful with his arm and legs and the running game was highlighted by freshman Ervin Philips and senior Adonis Ameen-Moore.But Gulley took a bulk of the carries and Hunt ran almost as often as he threw against the Terrapins, with the quarterback finishing the game with 23 rushes for 156 yards and two rushing touchdowns.“It’s part of being a quarterback. If you can run, why not run,” Hunt said. “If I can help my team out in any way, try to help us win, if I rush for 30, pass for 400, either way, a win is a win. I don’t care.”With 14 carries, Gulley was the only other SU player to rush more than 10 times. Ameen-Moore ran nine times for 68 yards. Gulley ran for 138 yards and 9.9 yards per carry with a 39-yard-long run mixed in.Senior offensive tackle Sean Hickey said that Gulley is easy to block for because he hits holes quickly. It’s his fast first step and small-space explosiveness that led to a 19-yard rush on Syracuse’s first scoring drive, and the 39-yard run that helped move Syracuse into the red zone before the half.“We thought we paved the holes pretty well and he just goes right through it,” Hickey said. “When you give backs like that that space, they make those plays.”Syracuse didn’t give up any sacks, committed no turnovers and had fewer penalties against Villanova and Central Michigan. Each issue surfaced when the competition got tougher on Saturday.McDonald said that Syracuse won’t always be the most athletic team on the field. And with the Maryland game as a more realistic sample size — Syracuse ran 51 times and threw 28 — the offense, successful or not, is reliant on the ground, especially with games against Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State in the next three weeks.Said McDonald: “At the end of the day we’re always going to be a running team.” Comments Published on September 22, 2014 at 12:11 am Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesselast_img read more