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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 1, 2014


Scott Shafer


SCOTT SHAFER:  Looking forward to getting back home in the Dome and reuniting with an old rivalry from the Big East that's now a great part of the ACC Conference.  Looking forward to that opportunity.  With that, any questions?

Q.  I wanted to ask you about that game two years ago against Louisville.  No one outside of the program really gave you guys much of a chance against them, they were unbeaten at the time.  What are some of the biggest memories that stand out from that win?  What worked so well for you guys?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, you know, it was a long time ago, but obviously it was a good victory for us.  Kids played hard, well.  Offensively Ryan Nassib played well, and just a great victory, great victory in the Dome and that sort of thing.
From a coach's perspective that was a long time ago and a lot different situation that we're confronted with right now.  Right now we're just kind of focused in on finding a way to move the ball against one of the best defenses in the country, and looking forward to that challenge, and then a great mind in Coach Petrino on offense.  We've got a great challenge in front of us here as we get back home in the Dome.

Q.  I wanted to start with you, obviously you said there's a big challenge coming from Louisville.  From what you've seen and what you know, what are some of the biggest challenges that they've put forward on defense going up against your offense?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, I think it starts, they have a very good football coach in Todd Grantham over there.  I've always admired his work throughout the years.  I don't really know him personally, but he's a very good football coach, and he's got some very good players.  They were a very good defense last year, as well, as you know.  They've got great playmakers.  That safety Holliman, I remember him in high school, and he's a great player.  Six interceptions already this year.  And there's a reason why you take those kids that can run and hit and put them in a great coordinator like Coach Grantham, that's why they're No.1 in the country in rush defense, No.3 total defense, and just all over the place with all the other categories in the top 10, top 12.
So that's where the first challenge starts.  And then you flip it to the other side of the ball, and Coach Petrino, he's one of the better offensive minds in college football.  He really knows how to keep you off balance.  He breaks his tendencies week to week, changes up formations on you and personnel groupings, keeps you out of being able to match personnel at times on 3rd down.  Those are just a handful of the things, and then you couple those two great coaches with great talent, and you've got a definite challenge in front of you.

Q.  And then as far as on your side, and I know you just got back to practice, and I know you've been looking at film as soon as you got back from Notre Dame, but as you move forward with this team, what can you say about how they're responding, and if there is resiliency that they're not going to allow what's happened in the past, what happened against Notre Dame, to trickle into this game?  How have you seen the team respond so well?
SCOTT SHAFER:  They've responded extremely well.  We have a great group of young men.  They'll never give in.  They'll keep fighting their buns off.  We played a very good Notre Dame football team, had some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of.  There were some good things.  There were some good silver linings in that game.  I thought our pass protection was good.  I thought Terrel Hunt threw the ball down the field well.  I thought defensively we were very physical and forced some good turnovers there.
So there's a lot of things.  A lot of things we have to upgrade, but we're going to accentuate the positives and go to work as hard as we can with the things that we want to get to a higher level.  So that's what we've been doing.  Kids' resilience has been great, and they'll be ready to go.

Q.  Obviously the news came out last night that Naesean Howard is no longer with the team.  I wonder if you have any more to add to that and if there's any chance that Naesean could rejoin down the road?
SCOTT SHAFER:  You know, like I mentioned, we decided to go and part ways, and just wish him all the luck in the world.  He's a good football player, very talented young man, and wish nothing but the best to him.

Q.¬† In regards to the quarterback situation for Louisville this week, they have Will Gardner, the red‑shirt sophomore, and then they have Reggie Bonnafon, the freshman.¬† Coach Petrino said Bonnafon will start, but how are you preparing for the QB situation that Louisville has?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, they're both young men that have quality reps underneath their belt, and they both have good skill sets.  I don't think it'll be a change agent in what Coach Petrino does.  He's going to do what he does, and obviously he's been very successful at that.
You know, different than maybe if you had a guy that was running option with one guy and drop‑back with the other.¬† I don't see it as being two different game plans the way I see it.¬† I think both those kids are very capable, and we need to be ready to defend the offense and whichever quarterback is in the game.

Q.  Obviously coming off that win last week, another game where I'm sure you did not do as much offensively as you had hoped, what's going to be key for you in the coming weeks to get more production like you did against Central Michigan in upcoming games like this week?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Just staying with the plan, staying with what we believe in, understanding that we've been close in a lot of areas, and to me it's just staying true to the formula that we believe in.  We'll keep on pounding it out until we make those improvements that we're all looking forward to seeing on game day.

Q.  Are you concerned or frustrated?  Did you feel with Hunt looking back that this offense would be better than it is right now, or did you kind of figure with Jerome Smith's absence it was going to be kind of a work in progress for you at this point in the season?
SCOTT SHAFER:  No, not concerned and frustrated.  Coaching ball, one day at a time.

Q.  I know that a lot of the stats that they piled up defensively come on quarterback sacks, but they're extremely difficult against the running game.  What is it that makes them so effective against the run?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, I think Coach Grantham does a great job presenting different looks for the offense to attack, and then that scheme is backed up with very good football players.  Coach Strong did a great job stockpiling some very talented defensive players on that side of the ball there, and when you take a smart defensive coordinator and couple it with great athletes, you see that No.1 rush defense in the country, so it'll be a great challenge for us, and we look forward to it.

Q.  Also, this is their fourth conference game and your first.  Does it seem like it's taken you a long time to get to this point?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† I really haven't thought about it that much to be quite honest with you.¬† Looking forward to getting started with the ACC Conference now, but just kind of go at it one week at a time and try to focus on the things that are right out in front of you, and for us it's been out‑of‑conference play.¬† For them it's been the other.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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