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April 22, 2015

Scott Shafer

SCOTT SHAFER:  Good to be back with you guys talking some football.  Spring ball went well, and we're looking forward to getting heavily involved with this recruiting process as we speak, and with that, any questions.

Q.  I wanted to ask you first and foremost about Terrel Hunt, just how you've seen him grow as a leader and kind of take hold of this new offense that you have.
SCOTT SHAFER:  Sure.  Well, first off, the biggest focus point for us with Terrel and the quarterback position is really just trying to live in the now, the way you approach things and lead by example, first and foremost, words to follow.  It was good to have him back.  It was good to see that he was healthy.  He had to knock some cobwebs off there early, and then we had the implementation of the new offensive scheme and verbiage.  So there was a lot going on.  But I think after we got through those first four or five practices where it was big install, Terrel did a great job, and it was good to see him back on the field.

Q.  And then as far as the defensive side of it, just what you've been able to see from some of the defensive linemen and what they're trying to accomplish obviously having lost guys like Welsh and Robinson, just what you can say about the defensive line.
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, sure.  I think the defense as a whole you can say a lot of similar things to, to speak to.  But up front, you know, we have great competition there.  I was really pleased with a couple of our young guys, Kayton Samuels did a very nice job in some respects.  He may have been the most improved player on defense.  And then Chris Slayton.  Both those young men are playing tackle.  Chris played some end when he first got here.  We knew he'd continue to grow and to tackle.  So those two have done a real nice job providing competition with Raymon and Williams.
It's going to be those four as the older guys competing, even though Slayton and Samuels are going to be in their redshirt freshman season, and then Raymon and Williams.  So we have a nice mix of older guys and some fresh, young guys that are just going really hard.  I was pleased with the competition in there, and then we'll see what some of these freshmen bring to the table.  I do think it's hard for freshmen to play at the tackle position right away.  It's probably the most difficult, that and the offensive line positions.  But I was pleased with that group.
And then when you move to the edges, Ron Thompson, Luke Arciniega is a young man as you know that we moved from linebacker down when we found out that the NCAA gave him two seasons of eligibility left, which was a good thing for both sides, us and Luke.  Donnie Simmons has shown good growth, a real good speed guy off the edge, and Ron Thompson, who we had to play all over the place last year, and he was really unselfish, with some of the injuries occurred, to bounce around.  Now we're playing him at the defensive end exclusively, and he's postured himself to have a good season.

Q.  What made Vic Beasley of Clemson unique or special as a pass rusher?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, he was just extremely athletic.  He could run and turn like a linebacker, but you had to deal with him right up on the line of scrimmage.  Just a phenomenal athlete that brought some skill sets that you don't see week in and week out.  You know, I likened him to Chandler Jones, who's obviously having a great career with the New England Patriots after he left here, after his junior eligibility season.  Both long guys that could really athletically put you in a tough situation.
You know, you always had to account for Vic wherever he was.¬† Difficult to go one‑on‑one with that guy.¬† Just a phenomenal football player, and seems like a great kid, just a great young man, as well.

Q.  I wonder if you could quickly evaluate where your offensive line stands at this point, and do you feel like Trudo is solidified at center and Aaron Roberts at right guard?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† Yeah, nothing is solidified until we kick off against Rhode Island.¬† We have penciled in depth charts and that sort of thing, but the competition is still on.¬† You know, Trudo has done a good job.¬† He had a little lower ankle deal, so he was limited throughout the course of spring, which gave Jason Emerich and Moore opportunities to get a lot of snaps in there.¬† I was pleased with Roberts at the guard position.¬† You know, another young man who if you compared it to some of the other freshmen up front on both sides of the ball, I felt like he did a nice job, not too dissimilar to the progress that Kayton Samuels made on defense and Chris Slayton on the D‑line.¬† Young, aggressive guys that have a ton of upside as they work into their career, all three of those guys I mentioned with four years.
I think that the competition will stay on.¬† Robinson backed up by Hayes right now at the other guard position, they could flip‑flop if we needed them to.¬† Omari Palmer at the tackle position has also played guard, and then you have Foy and Lasker on the outside.¬† Those are the guys that are kind of in the fight right now, but I felt like Roberts has done a real good job learning the offense, working hard at his hand placement and his ability to play with more consistency with his hands.¬† So I think we'll have great composition as we move towards this preseason camp.

Q.  Obviously you've got some defensive linemen, some defensive backs.  How are those positions looking to you after seeing their potential replacements this spring?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, it's been fun watching them compete.  When those jobs are open and it's an open season to compete to try to get in that lineup and figure out a way to fight for playing time, you know, there's great intensity with those kids.  You know, losing Cam Lynch and Dyshawn Davis that played a ton of football for us the last few years, you know, you say to yourself going into spring ball, who's really going to emerge as the next guys to compete and play together on this defense that's had a lot of success over the last few years.
Been pleased.  You know, what we did is we moved Marqez Hodge into the Will linebacker position, and Zaire Franklin is the middle linebacker that's running the show for us now.  He played and started a few games at the end of the season when Hodge had to have his knee worked on, so it was good to see those two next to each other.  And then you have Bennett and Thomas competing, Vigille, who can bounce around at the linebacker position, as guys that are going to compete and have a shot to line up as a starter against Rhode Island.  But we have a lot of time before we kick that ball off against Rhode Island, but I've been encouraged with Bennett.  He's a slippery linebacker that can make plays in the backfield.  He can also athletically play in space, so I was pleased with him.  Thomas can really run.  J.T. is a young man that has to continue to work on his football IQ, but I really enjoyed the competition between those two as far as guys that can play in space and also be good, effective blitzers.
From the linebacker position, that's kind of how things are fighting their way through.
The other kid I didn't mention was Colton Moskal, and he just made a lot of tackles.  He's sitting behind Franklin at the middle linebacker position right now but has the ability to swing because of his smarts and his football intelligence.  Got a good group of guys, and I'm looking forward to seeing that competition continue to heat up.

Q.  I know you touched on this group of incoming defensive linemen earlier and you know who exactly what you have until they get here, but how closely do you monitor those guys as they're starting to do the Syracuse weightlifting program?  How often do you and Will Hicks just try and check in with them to see how they're doing?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† Well, it's a great question, and good to talk to you, Steven.¬† With the freshmen, what we do is we‑‑ Coach Hicks has a freshman manual that the kids have been working at, and some of those kids are in other off‑season sports, so each kid is a little bit different.¬† For the whole team what we do is we give them the workout plan and then we chart them weekly, and we ask them how many 110s did you make this week.¬† We ask them to give us their final set numbers with repetitions and weights at the end of each week, and then Monday morning at the staff meeting we'll go around the room and talk about where they are.
We've also given them goal weights to come in at, body weights to come in at.  So we monitor them weekly, and then at the end of each month, we have a little bit deeper system where Coach Hicks and his staff will go through their sets and see if there's adjustments that we have to make with regards to the weights that they're using in each set, because some of those kids that are maybe jumping into the weight room heavier than they ever have, you'll see increased jumps on some of those kids because they've learned how to attack the weights a little bit better with technique because we share with them video on technique that's voiced over.  We share with them video that includes proper way of warming up, running formation techniques.  We also share with them a nutritional plan.
You know, it's funny, Jake Pickard, young man from New Jersey, he'll shoot a picture‑‑ he'll take a picture of the scale that he's standing on.¬† I'll see his big, ugly feet standing on a scale, and he's showing me that he gained two or three pounds.¬† So it's been good.¬† We've had real good communication with those kids, and it's fun to see their progress.¬† And what it does is it holds them to a little bit of accountability, so when they show up, if they told us they've been making 20 110s in their times that we've prescribed and they only make four, we can say, hey, wait a minute, recruiting is over, now it's time to get to work.
So it's a good group.  I'm excited about guys like Ealey and Carter and Giudice and Cross, Park down in Alabama is working hard.  He's a big, strong kid.  Shepherd, Qaadir is a strong young man, and then Pickard, so we've got a good group of kids that I think will be anxious to come in here and compete, but they're still freshmen and they'll have lot to prove to us as we first get a chance to watch them in pads in August.

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