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September 10, 2014

Scott Shafer

COACH SHAFER:  Coming off a bye week, we are looking forward to getting back on the football field the amount pleasant to play a Central Michigan team that's off to a great start.  Had a great victory and handled Purdue easily last weekend, so we'll have a great challenge in front of us.  And with that, any questions.

Q.  Obviously you're playing a team that's coming off a win over a Big Ten opponent.  What's your biggest areas of concern facing them?
COACH SHAFER:  They run the ball extremely well.  They are going to get into two‑back situations where they are running a lot of lead plays, both strong (ph) and weak.  They have had a lot of success rushing that football, 154 yards a game.  They return every one on offense‑‑ or everyone on offense that has played last year.
And what they have done is they have added Thomas Rawls, a transfer from over at Michigan and he's playing extremely well, physical, downhill runner.  So we are going to try to match that with our defensive effort.
And the quarterback's managed the game extremely well.  He's done a nice job taking what the defense is giving him.  He doesn't try to force things, rush is the same, and he's got a good efficiency rating right now.  He's completing almost I think 62 percent of his passes.
So well‑coached football team over in Mount Pleasant.  Coach Enos has done a great job, and the biggest thing is going to have to probably be matching up their physicality.

Q.  How much do you look back at your Villanova game and write that off because you didn't have your starting quarterback for most of that game versus going into this game thinking, okay, I do need to see improvement in this area, that area, from week one to opponent two.
COACH SHAFER:  Yeah, we need to see improvement across the board.  That's been our focus the last week and a half.  Really now we're just not looking back.  We're just looking forward to Central Michigan to be quite honest with you.

Q.  You mentioned in this preseason that you're really pleased with the team picking Sam Rodgers as a captain and the maturity it showed to select him.  Obviously we know what he does kind of off the field for the team, but how does that manifest itself on the field?  How does his personality help you guys perform?
COACH SHAFER:  He's an extremely bright young man, really a model student athlete.  He does extremely well in school.  He's the kind of guy that will be doing more hiring than getting hired in a very short time once he leaves here.
I think there's just a ton of respect.  He does a nice job of kind of seeing how the locker room is, and he was just in here today talking to me a little bit.  He's a great big picture guy.  He sees the big picture and appreciates the opportunity that he has and I think the kids see that in him.  He's also a really good long snapper.

Q.  Do you remember a time‑‑ seemed like such a perfect fit, was there ever a time that you were upset or mad at him or has he gone his whole career without angering you?
COACH SHAFER:  He's a self‑starter and really, everybody has plays that they wish they had back.  You know, when they their best all the time and they are consistent with their behavior, it's hard to get mad at them.  I don't remember being mad at him.
He's been the leader of the Green Dogs, which it's really our special teams kicking and snapping core, who also are the best walk‑through guys in the nation.  In fact, he brought me down a shirt that they made up today.  I'm an official member of the Green Dogs now that Sam Rodgers and formally Eric Morris have really pronounced that.
So we have a lot of fun together and those guys do whatever is asked.  He's the leader of their group.

Q.  Josh Parris and Adly Enoicy, how are those guys doing and do you think maybe they could be back for Central Michigan or Maryland?  Where are they at?
COACH SHAFER:  They are both doing well but we have not set a time line on either of those guys yet.  All I can tell you is that they are both doing well and progressing.  They won't be playing against Central Michigan.

Q.  Regarding recruiting, I've seen at least one 2015 wide receiver Tweet out that he had been offered by you guys.  With K.J. decommitting and opening his recruitment back up and Corey deciding to transfer, when did wide receiver maybe become a position where you guys were interested in the guy for 2015 and how have you guys handled that, just that situation?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, recruiting is fluid.  This day and age, it's very fluid.  It never finishes where it starts and you have to be in the mode of being able to adjust as things come up:  Injuries, transfers, positional moves.  I tell my guys all the time, we go into the season with a plan and then we'll readjust that plan as we move forward depending on all those factors that you have to take into account.
So for us, it's fluid and it will be ever‑changing and moving, as it will be for a lot of the recruits, as well.  So that's the reality of what it is.  Never a dull moment.

Q.  Earlier Dabo Swinney told us he did not like having an open date this early in the season.  You obviously had one earlier, and now you have to play nine straight weeks without a break.  Can you talk about that?  I know it's out of your control, but is it useful or harmful at this point to have a break?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, it is what it is.  Can't change it.  So, you know, you live with it.
We had a couple injuries in preseason camp, so hopefully we get those guys back and they didn't miss two games; maybe they only missed one.  So you have to try to look at the silver lining, I guess.  That's the way we're going to approach it.
Then, yeah, we have a long haul, nine straight, but that's the way it used to be back when I first started coaching.  The good thing is you get into a rhythm and you get into that grind mode and it's all kind of the things that you love as a coach to be quite honest with you.  It's what we signed up for and take it head on and move forward one week at a time.

Q.  Obviously you had some bumps your first week playing.  Was that enough to show you where you could devote the week to improving things?  Or is that maybe not a true snapshot of your team?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, if it's on tape, it's real.  So it is a true snapshot, and we are working on making that snapshot look the way we want it to at Central Michigan.
College football is week‑to‑week, individual‑by‑individual, adjusting to the elements, and that's what we're doing.  You know, it's a great process that we enjoy and now we are just looking forward to Central Michigan and getting out of that airplane and going and playing a well‑coached central team.

Q.  Talk about what you see in Central Michigan that might alarm you when it comes to Saturday afternoon at 12 noon?
COACH SHAFER:  Just to reiterate what I said earlier on the line:  Good, physical football team, runs the ball strong downhill, got after a Big Ten team with no problem in beating Purdue.  Rawls is a good tailback and the quarterback manages the game well, and really all the other things I spoke about earlier.
Good football team, well coached, a lot of respect for Dan Enos and a big challenge for Syracuse.

Q.  Talk about your defense.  What did you see during the bye week that improved for the first week against Villanova?
COACH SHAFER:  We'll find out on Saturday to be quite honest with you.  You know, been working hard in practice the way we want them to but now they have to show up and have a great day on Saturday afternoon.

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