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November 25, 2014

Scott Shafer

COACH SHAFER:  We look forward to a great challenge, playing a very good football team at Boston College.  Also it's an opportunity to continue a great rivalry, one that dates way back since the beginning of football up here in the Northeast basically.  It will be a great battle for us and a great contest.
With that, any questions.

Q.  Your junior college players, you've reached out and found a lot of talent.  There's some future you can't talk about.  With the guys you have on the team, what junior college players have meant to this program.
COACH SHAFER:  Well, I think for us, to me it's always been kind of a stop‑gap, a need‑based recruiting situation when you go out and look at a junior college kid.
But we've had some good success with those guys.  When I look at Darius, I think he's a great example of a young man that we felt like we needed another secondary player.  He came right in, helped us right away.
(Loss of audio.)

Q.  To what extent do you think the rivalry was rekindled in last year's game?  Going forward, do you see this as something becoming more permanent?
COACH SHAFER:  I do.  I think the ACC conference would like to see that, too.  It's an old Northeast battle between two programs that have storied histories on both sides.  I think it's a great thing for the conference, a great thing for college football, to see Boston College and Syracuse playing against one other year in and year out towards the end of the season.  I think it's very healthy.
I know our kids are excited to play them.  The last couple years we've had some good battles with old Northeast teams.  This will be another opportunity for us.  They're rolling pretty good here.  Obviously they came up short against Florida State and Louisville before that.  But they've put together a nice season.  They have one of the better quarterbacks that is a dual threat guy in Tyler Murphy.  So it will be a great challenge for us.
For me growing up as a kid, I was always watching the Syracuse‑BC matchup.  I was from Ohio.  Syracuse and Boston College always had Ohio kids.  It was always an interesting game for us to watch.
Growing up, being a coach's son, now to be a part of it is very humbling.  The week of Thanksgiving, I'm very thankful to be a part of such a great rivalry.

Q.  I know it's been a struggle this season, a trying season.  You've had to deal with issues and injuries.  Do you feel like this team is staggering towards the finish line?  Is a rivalry game something that heals all wounds and gets guys ramped up for one more game?
COACH SHAFER:  I think some of those things you mentioned could be the case.  Like you said, a little bit difficult situation for us.  We've been through a rash of injuries that I've never been around in my 24 years of coaching.  Just looking at the depth chart, seeing who we're playing, who we're moving around, it's been difficult that way.
Pre‑season depth chart, we're starting a quarterback that was third or fourth.  Middle linebacker, third or fourth guys, Franklin.  Wide receiver, the whole line really, just been crazy.  Just one of those crazy years.
But for me, I don't look at it as we're staggering into the last game.  I look at it as we're fighting with a lot of youth and inexperience into the last game.  What a great way to introduce a lot of young guys that are playing a little bit earlier than we thought they were going to in a great rivalry in this conference and even before we were in this conference together.
For me, there is a sense of enthusiasm as we approach playing a good football team in Boston.  Great challenge for our kids.  Extremely motivated to go over there and just give it our best.

Q.  How rare is it for a football team to be able to start five graduates on their offensive line?  To what extent do you think they've derived much of their offensive success with that experience?
COACH SHAFER:  It's extremely impressive to know each and every one of those kids on their offensive line are graduated.  That experience is huge.  I always felt the offensive line was experience matched with some talent.  And also the opportunity for guys to play next to each other is when you really get a good group.  That's what they are.  That's why they're running the ball so well, 260, maybe more, rushing a game.
They're balancing it out by playing great defense, doing a great job with the time of possession.  All of those areas go back to a group of experienced offensive linemen.  They're going to make the defensive line better in practice every single day.  Time of possession starts with your guys up front.  When you have time of possession, you get more plays, you get more running plays, then you have great numbers rushing the ball.
I think hats off to those kids that are already graduated, playing up front for Boston College.  What a great example of what it's supposed to be.  Guys getting an education and finishing up their program, playing next to one another for quite a few years.  That experience has really shown in their productivity on offense.

Q.  This year you were the victim of one, but only one punt return for touchdowns this year.  Way down.  Why do you think the numbers are so down?
COACH SHAFER:  The kickoff return, they changed the rules.  You can't have the old school wedge, which was a great way for teams that maybe weren't as talented as other teams, you could wedge block things and create seams, break off some big gain.  I think that's one of them.
The other thing, when you look at the punt, with the advent of the shield/scrum/rugby punt families, you get a couple things going on.  You get guys getting down the field quicker, directional kicking, which makes it tougher for a single returner to do things if you have a punter that can put it out that way.
Those are the first two things that come to mind why those numbers would be down across the board.

Q.  You mentioned earlier that getting the young guys reps helps them prepare for next year.  Asking about Steve Ishmael, great guy from Syracuse.  Where have you seen him grow most substantially, what hopes do you have him for his career?
COACH SHAFER:  Just want to see him start getting better daily, find it simple, find him ways to continue to improve.  Learning to balance his academics.  Playing so much has probably been an area that I've been most pleased with because he's worked at it really well.  He's been diligent.  I think he will continue to be a very good football player.
He's improved in his ability to get off the line of scrimmage with bigger corners in the ACC.  He had a nice one on the one big catch at Pitt this past week.
Then expectations, we want to see him to continue to improve on getting bigger, stronger so he can be a more consistent blocker in the run game.  Probably just continuing to work at getting off the press coverage.
I think with strength and a little bit of size gain, that will help him down the road.

Q.  I was looking at Luke Arciniega's career and seeing if he could be eligible for another year if he was granted a medical redshirt.
COACH SHAFER:  We're looking into that.  We have paperwork in.  We're going to wait to see what the NCAA says.
I feel bad for Luke.  He was competing for the middle linebacker position against Marqez Hodge.  He never had a great opportunity because he went down quick.  He was banged up quite a bit.  Unfortunately for him, he didn't get a chance to compete this year.
We put the paperwork in.  We're waiting to hear back from the NCAA to see if there is a chance.  If there is a chance, we'll give him an opportunity.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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