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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


August 27, 2014


Scott Shafer


COACH SHAFER:  First off, excited to kick off the season, being so close to game day in the Dome for us is a special thing.  I mentioned earlier today, it's my favorite part of the job.  We have six of them here in Syracuse this year.  The first one kicks off against Villanova Friday night.  Just anxious and excited in anticipation of that first game.
Got a good football opponent in Villanova, so we're ready for the challenge.

Q.  Back in Greensboro in July before camp opened you might not have been quite certain about certain aspects of your game.  What have you learned about your team that you're satisfied with and what are you curious about that you can find out against Villanova?
COACH SHAFER:¬† Been pleased with our maturity.¬† Kids have worked extremely hard, created a high level of expectation for one another in the off‑season.¬† Very unselfish group.
I was happy with the way our captain vote came out.¬† Good group of young men.¬† Prince‑Tyson Gulley, a tailback.¬† Sam Rodgers, a long snapper.¬† Then Sean Hickey and Cam Lynch, two guys that you would have expected.
I think it showed a sense of maturity with our team when they elected Sam Rodgers as one of our captains.¬† Very seldom does a long snapper have that type of influence on his teammates.¬† Sam is the epitome of a student and student‑athlete.¬† In the off‑season he quietly serves the community unbelievably.¬† He's done missions to Haiti twice. ¬†He's done multiple things in the community around our camp that are profound, and his teammates recognize him as a mature, essential part of being what this team is all about.¬† That's what I'm most excited about is our team's maturity.
Looking forward to Friday night to see how our offense clicks, all the things that we've been working on improve.  Looking at some new faces on the defense to see how they step up their game going into this 2014 campaign.

Q.  You were very high on your secondary.  How do you feel about the rest of the defense, the front seven at this point?
COACH SHAFER:  I think they've progressed well.  You never know till we get them on the football field.  I think they're sick of beating the hell out of each other and ready to go after the other team and the other color jerseys.  You never know till you get them out on that field.  That's about to happen.  Anxious to get them out there and see what they do.

Q.  Scott, specifically about the defensive line.  Do you feel like you have been able to develop the kind of depth that you would like now through the spring and the fall with the freshmen in there?
COACH SHAFER:  Yes, you know, I think we've made good improvements.  Never as many D tackles as you want in all the years I've coached.  Last year we lost a very good player that moved on, took his talents to the New York Giants in Jay Bromley.  Next man up is going to be a group of guys.  Looking forward to Eric Crume having a good season at the nose tackle position.  Marcus Coleman, Isaiah Johnson have had good camps.  Ron Thompson is playing end, but he could play up front, a three technique, cause havoc in there.
It will be strength in numbers, that will be our approach against Villanova.  The thing I like about this group the most is they've set high standards for each other and that's a great place to start.

Q.  Omari Palmer, he seems like the guy in there.  What was your impression of his camp?  I know he had a minor knee issue.  Is he good to go for Villanova?
COACH SHAFER:  I don't know yet.  We're going to figure that out when we kick it off.
He had a good camp.  I'm looking forward to seeing those kids play at a high level, high effort level.  But Omari, as well as Rob Trudo, Alex Hayes, Emerich can play center, Johnny Miller can play center guard.  Just looking forward to getting them on the field and seeing where we're at.
But Omari did have a real good camp.

Q.  I wanted to ask about the difference of going into a season with a guy that's kind of established himself at quarterback as opposed to a year ago when you were juggling things.  Can you do much more or put more offense in?  Has it been easier that way?
COACH SHAFER:  Not so much with the scheme side of it.  Really the first part is the biggest difference in knowing who your quarterback is going into a season is probably the lack of the dark circles under my eyes because I've slept more.  That's number one.
Number two, I think Terrel gives us an air of confidence.  He's a very good, strong leader in that huddle.  He's grown as a player.  I'm looking forward to seeing him get on the field and put the numbers up that I think he's capable of because of that progress.
Always leery to put more offense in or more defense in.  I think more is not better.  I think less is more if they play really fast, know what they're doing, eliminate errors, controllable mistakes.  Wrinkles are good, but the massive game plan is something we don't want to get into.
So to be honest with you, just excited to see what he can do.  Biggest key is that he plays within himself, understands he doesn't have to win every game for us, he just has to let the offense move of the ball down the field with his good decision making.  He's in a good place and a comfort zone that's allowed his coach to sleep well at night before game number one.

Q.¬† The runningback situation.¬† I know you have some experience there, but you also lost a pretty good runningback.¬† How does that look to you in pre‑season?
COACH SHAFER:¬† I think the runningback position is as strong as it's been since I've been here.¬† Replacing Jerome Smith will be Tyson Gulley, different than Jerome.¬† He's a quicker type of guy.¬† Our big back will be Adonis Ameen‑Moore.¬† Then I have two very good players in George Morris, Devante McFarlane, and Ervin Philips that can do a lot of good things for us.¬† I feel good about the runningback situation.
The most difficult part is going to get them awesome touches throughout the course of the game.  We'll go faster tempo, more plays, get the ball in all those kids' hands.

Q.  Talk about playing against Villanova, how good is that conference?
COACH SHAFER:  I used to coach over there.  Used to be called the Yankee Conference in the older days.  We had just gotten past the leather helmets.  But it's always been a great conference, excellent football conference.  Villanova, coach has 204 victories.  Scared the devil out of Boston College last year.  He has that quarterback John Robertson returning, who is a special player.  Tons of accolades going into the season as a quarterback.  That's a great place to start.
They know how to win games.  They know how to continue to fight through tough situations.  They'll be a good opponent for us.  So we got to have our chin straps buckled uptight, our mouthpieces locked in place and be ready to play a tough team in Villanova that represents the FCS in a good manner.  They've been top 10, top 15 perennials for years.  It goes back to coach and his consistency as a leader for that program.  Good challenge for our kids to go out and play one of the best in the FCS.

Q.  What is the mood like around the campus getting ready for the game?
COACH SHAFER:  The mood on campus is exciting.  It's excitable.  We've had students walking through the football complex.  It's really a neat environment right now.
Can't wait to get them in the Dome.  Had a chance to talk to the freshman class the other night as well as the captains.  They were ramped up.  Could barely hear myself talk in the Dome.  Can't wait to get the upperclassmen in there to get that place shaking.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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