SYRACUSE, New York — Scott Shafer's second season at Syracuse hasn't gone smoothly. And with top-ranked Florida State coming to town, the Orange will have somewhat of a different look.
Starting quarterback Terrel Hunt is out 4-6 weeks with a broken calf bone and Shafer has juggled his staff. Offensive coordinator George McDonald has been demoted to receivers coach and quarterbacks coach Tim Lester is now calling the shots offensively.
"Between the two of them working together, hopefully, we can create some flow," Shafer said Tuesday.
Shafer said he decided to make the staff change after the Orange's third straight loss, a 28-6 setback at home to Louisville on Friday night. It was announced on Monday. Shafer said school administrators were not involved.
"For me, every tough, difficult decision is always going to be made in the best interest of improving the team," Shafer said. "It's really as simple as that. It's my job to make those decisions and move forward as quickly as possible."
Shafer said Lester and McDonald have taken the move in stride.
"They just want to win a game," Shafer said. "They work well together and they've been great. I know they have a ton of respect for one another."
Hunt suffered a tough lower-body hit in a 31-15 loss to then-No. 8 Notre Dame on Sept. 27 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey but stayed in the game. He was sacked hard by Louisville linebacker Keith Kelsey early in the fourth quarter and went to the bench.
"Terrel got up and moved around on it," Shafer said. "He felt like he was good to go, and they (the medical staff) felt like he was good to go."
Hunt sat for just one play, then returned for two more before leaving for good in favor of backup Austin Wilson.
"He got kicked in the shin hard, and they thought it probably was just a bad bruise, contusion," Shafer said. "But you never know until you start to move on it. It isn't until after the game when you can get the pictures that you really see what the problem was."
Hunt's absence likely means Syracuse will have a quarterback-by-committee plan against the Seminoles, with Wilson, freshman AJ Long and sophomore Mitch Kimble. Wilson has played in two games and is 11 of 20 passing for 89 yards. Long and Kimble have never taken a snap in a college game.
Shafer would not divulge who will start.
"I think the key will be to keep the game plan for each player that may have an opportunity to play clean and not too overwhelming so that they can get a feel for what it's like to play in a college football game," Shafer said. "For the other two (Long and Kimble) this will be all new to them — whoever gets that opportunity. The big thing I tell them is, 'Just go play. Don't worry. Just go with the plan.' "
Shafer said the team has responded well in spite of the losses and the coaching change.
"The team's attitude has been good," he said. "They just put their helmets on and go to work. I think they're excited to play maybe one of the best football teams in the last 10 years. I've been pleased with the work ethic. They're looking forward to the next challenge."
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