Syracuse • It never fails. When Brock Anderson lines up for a field goal or an extra point, he hears opposing teams shout from across the line.
"Watch for the fake, watch for the fake," they say.
They fear he'll just take the snap and run with it, or his accurate arm will find someone in the end zone. Or maybe they just don't know the Syracuse quarterback also was an all-state kicker last year.
"I guess they don't watch warm-ups," Anderson said, shrugging his shoulders.
The problem for opponents is that Anderson can do it all.
As a junior, he was a wide receiver, and he's retained that speed on draws and when he has to roll out of the pocket. He also can sling the ball, throwing for 13 touchdowns this year.
And if those two talents don't take him to the end zone, he always can kick a long field goal. The effect can be disheartening for those who have failed to stop him during the Titans' run to a 5-0 record.
"He's a versatile kid," Syracuse coach Russ Jones said. "He makes great decisions, and he's played so many positions, I think it helps him understand the concepts in our offense. He's really good."
In many ways, Anderson is the quarterback the Titans have been waiting for.
In only its fifth season of football, Syracuse hasn't ever quite had this balance of running and passing. The team returns seniors at just about every skill position. So even though Anderson can throw to Diante Mitchell, Kiwa Mo'o or Jacob Garver, defenses still have to respect the running ability of Mason Woodward, who rushed for more than 800 yards last year.
It also helps to have a defense that grabs interceptions and gets to the quarterback. Syracuse has had the benefit of great field position thanks to the turnovers and stops it's able to get. Special teams also plays a role since Anderson can send kickoffs for touchbacks and Mitchell has been a revelation as a punter with a booming leg.
A 28-14 victory against Davis last week shows how far this unit has come the Titans hadn't beaten the Darts since 2008.
"That felt real good," Woodward said. "It wasn't too close, so yeah, it was a really good win."
It seems that Anderson's best college opportunities will come as a kicker. About 6 feet tall and with a slim frame, he's not the prototypical physical specimen that a lot of colleges look for in a passer.
But watch him play, Jones said. He runs just as well as his receivers, and he can throw just as well when the play breaks down as he can in the pocket. His top quality? He takes care of the football.
Anderson went straight for his coach on the sidelines after he threw his first interception of the year, which came against Davis. He said he wouldn't throw it away again, and Jones believed him.
"I wouldn't count him out or say he's just a kicker in college," Jones said. "A JC or a small school could get a lot out of him at quarterback. If he keeps working on his speed and strength, he could surprise people."
As a team, Syracuse is pushing harder than ever before. An unblemished record and a No. 2 ranking mean little to the Titans, except that they are on the right path. The memories of last season's crushing loss to Fremont keeps them wanting more.
Mitchell knows the desire as badly as anyone. His outstretched arm couldn't quite break the plane as he was stretching out for a touchdown against the Silverwolves.
He's already turned his anguish into motivation. And you can bet the rest of the Titans are following suit.
"To lose by 2 or 3 inches that was hard," Mitchell said. "I promised myself we'd never come up three inches short again. We want a state title."
Syracuse offense rolling along
•The Titans are outscoring opponents by an average of 22 points through five games.
• Quarterback Brock Anderson leads the offense with 13 touchdown passes against only one interception.
• Anderson also has three rushing touchdowns and has kicked four field goals.