HACKED: Allen outplayed by Penn State freshman Hackenberg in Syracuse loss

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on August 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm Contact David: dbwilson@syr.edu | @DBWilson2 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There was one moment Saturday when Drew Allen looked like the quarterback he was expected to be.Jeremiah Kobena blazed past Malcolm Willis in the third quarter and Allen got enough time in the pocket. He stepped into a perfectly arced throw, over the top of Willis and into Kobena’s outstretched arms at the 10-yard line for a 55-yard completion.“It’s fun to watch when it’s perfectly timed and the trajectory is beautiful,” SU quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said. “He put it up in the air, Kobena ran the perfect route.”But the fun came too sparsely for Lester and the Orange’s (0-1) coaching staff. Allen completed just 16-of-37 passes for 189 yards and a pair of interceptions in Syracuse’s season-opening 23-17 loss to Penn State (1-0) in front of 61,202 at MetLife Stadium. He was outdueled by a true freshman — Christian Hackenberg went 22-for-31— and completed too few of his supposedly signature deep balls to outweigh the poor decisions.There was the deep ball to Kobena, a 13-yard completion along the right sideline to Adrian Flemming and a 27-yard strike across the middle to Ashton Broyld, but there were also passes that sailed down the field and out of bounds or into coverage.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOnly 43.2 percent of his passes ended up in his receivers’ hands. Two passes ended up in the hands of Allen’s opponents. None ended with one of his targets standing in the end zone with the ball.“We came up short,” Allen said. “Ultimately we wanted to come out with a win.”For the first half it wasn’t entirely his fault — SU was simply reluctant to open up its offense.He stumbled on the first play of his Syracuse career, slipping in the backfield for a 3-yard loss. He followed it up with a pair of completions, and even threaded a ball past a defender for the sideline completion to Flemming.He completed his first five passes, but just one of his next seven to finish the first half 6-for-12. Just two of those completions, though, went for more than 10 yards.“That was by design,” Lester said, “trying to establish the running game, not putting him in some of those awkward situations early and then open it up as we kind of settled into the game.”The issues seemed evident: Allen tended to stare down his receivers and had no problems with throwing the ball where defenders were. His completion to Flemming was nearly intercepted. So was a swing pass in the third quarter to Prince-Tyson Gulley that ended up giving the Orange a first down.At the end of that period the recklessness finally caught up to him. He gunned a pass straight into Stephen Obeng-Agyapong’s chest for his first interception.His second came on a desperation heave during SU’s final drive, but several passes bounced off defenders’ hands in jump-ball situations as he tested throws downfield.“Drew is a competitor,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. “I liked his moxie, I liked his energy and I liked his fight.”On the other side was an even less experienced signal caller. Hackenberg was wildly impressive in his debut, throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns, but mixed in with the flashes of stardom were the mistakes of a freshman.He threw his first career interception in the second quarter when Jeremi Wilkes jumped in front of a pass to Jesse James. His second turnover, an interception by defensive end Robert Welsh, nearly let Syracuse back into the game when the Orange capitalized with a Jerome Smith touchdown run.“(Hackenberg’s) got a tremendous future,” Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien said, “but we’re not ready to waltz him into the College Football Hall of Fame and certainly not the NFL Hall of Fame — we’re just saying he’s a talented guy.”He was certainly benefitted by the play of Allen Robinson — the wide receiver was suspended for the first half and scored a touchdown on just his second play from scrimmage — but he also made a spectacular 54-yard throw to Eugene Lewis to give the Nittany Lions their largest lead, 23-10, with 11:39 left in the game.It was the turnovers, though, that ultimately defined the inexperienced quarterbacks’ play in this year’s New York’s College Classic.For every chance the defense gave SU, its offense seemed to hand it away. After Wilkes’ interception, Smith fumbled. After a strip and long return by Brandon Reddish, Syracuse came away without any points. Syracuse managed just 10 points off PSU’s four turnovers.Allen’s first interception was simply a careless mistake. His second was understandable, but squashed any chance at a Syracuse comeback.Allen said he didn’t have any jitters making his first career start, but it was still his first game in an SU uniform. He wasn’t the Orange’s savior like some built him up to be, but he can only get better.“I’m proud of that guy right there,” Shafer said, pointing at Allen.His quarterback nodded.“He’s going to be a damn good football player.” Commentslast_img