Three things we learned in the spring about the Syracuse Orange:
1. Terrel Hunt kept his job. Coach Scott Shafer wanted Hunt to build off the momentum he generated toward the end of last season and earn the starting quarterback job again this spring. Hunt won 2013 team MVP honors the night before the spring game, then went out and connected on 12 of 15 passes for 95 yards, leaving little doubt that the offense will revolve around him in 2014.
2. John Miller has the inside track at center. The offensive line was hammered by injuries this spring, but Miller, a juco transfer from Los Angeles Harbor College, took a big step, emerging as the likely front-runner to start in the middle. Miller's rise could keep Rob Trudo at guard after he initially switched to center this spring.
3. Marqez Hodge emerged at middle linebacker. Marquis Spruill's graduation made this spot a premium for the Orange to fill this spring, and the sophomore Hodge proved to be a physical presence. He took advantage of extra reps with Luke Arciniega out with a lower body injury. The former Will linebacker should bring more to the table after a promising rookie campaign in 2013.
Three questions for the fall:
1. How will the passing game look? Hunt's improvements are huge, but what good are they if he has no one to throw the ball to? Sophomore Brisly Estime is the best of the bunch, and he and Jeremiah Kobena made some big plays in the spring game, albeit against an injury-depleted secondary. But with plenty of capable running backs, Syracuse needs more playmakers through the air.
2. How good is the D-line without Jay Bromley? The Orange said goodbye to 10 sacks and 14.5 sacks from Bromley in 2013, production that will be tough to replace. Eric Crume is the most experienced man on the inside, but depth is thin there, possibly forcing Syracuse to play several bigger ends inside.
3. Who's the No. 2 QB? This isn't the worst problem to have, but Syracuse needs its youngsters to emerge in fall camp, as Hunt's backups are all first-year or second-year players (Mitch Kimble, A.J. Long, Austin Wilson and the incoming Alin Edouard). Backup quarterback will be among the biggest position battles come August.
One way-too-early prediction:
Shafer said he is aiming for eight wins this season, and he will get there, albeit with a 13th game. There is no shame in that, as consecutive winning seasons in a coach's first two campaigns -- both of which are in a new, tougher conference -- would serve as a tangible sign of progress, especially in the Atlantic Division.