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August 28, 2013

Scott Shafer

SCOTT SHAFER:  First of all, we are fired up, juiced and ready to go for our kickoff to Start this 2013 campaign at MetLife against a very good, talented, well‑coached Penn State team.
We also look forward to getting our kids from both the New Jersey, New York City, Long Island area close to home; a lot of families will be in attendance, so it's exciting for a lot of those kids on our team, especially our captains, Jay Bromley from Jamaica Queens; Marquis Spruill from Hillside, right outside Meadowlands there; Jerome Smith, a Delaware kid, not too far for his family to get up there; and then of course Macky MacPherson, Coach MacPherson's grandson.  Those are our four captains, so we are excited and ready to go.

Q.  Just talk about the preparation against Penn State, you've got a month looking at Bill O'Brien's schemes up there in State College.  What have you seen on film?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, you know, since we got the job, obviously you look ahead at that first game, you almost have too much time to prepare.  There's always going to be things in that first game that you don't expect of the so we have wanted to streamline our game plans, make sure we are calling the plays on both sides of the ball in such a manner that the kids can just play fast.
You know, looking at them, their personnel, extremely talented tight end position.  Wouldn't surprise me if they used two and three tight ends sets.  Their running back situation, they have a big, strong tough kid in Zwinak who runs the inside run game extremely well.  And then they have two kids in Belton and Lynch that are quick, dynamic slashers.
And so you have two types, two styles of running backs we have to be prepared for.  Their offensive line, their center, Howie, does a nice job and you can tell that he's a good communicator.  And Urschel is a good football player, bright young man that played a lot of football for them.  I think it starts up there up front with their run game and utilization of the tight ends.
Quarterback situation, they have got two kids that they are talking about playing, so we don't know which one.  Had a chance to go back and try to find as much tape and film on those kids as I could and both Tyler and Christian are very good football players.  Similar skill sets, so it's not a situation where we are looking at one kid being run‑oriented and the other kid the pass.  I think they both have similar skill sets, throw the ball well and can move the chains with their feet.
As we look at them, they have had good success, and Coach O'Brien is a great offensive mind, so it will be a good challenge for our kids.

Q.  Talk about the weather conditions at MetLife, sometimes the old stadium, they had a lot of wind issues, and last year playing against USC, what did you tell the team about the conditions you might see on Saturday?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, you know, it looks like it's going to be 80 to 84 degrees at kickoff, weather should be okay.  Might be a little bit muggy.  We try to focus in on the things we can control and going into a game with the approach that we need to be ready to adjust to the elements, whatever they may be.
We had a chance to practice in the rain this year, which has been good in preseason camp.  Wish we would have had a little more least, but yesterday was a good, hot day for us.  We started off the first day of classes and trying to block out the things that are not important as we get to practice and focus in on working through different conditions.
So I think our kids are prepared and ready to adjust to any element we have.

Q.  How difficult is it to prepare for Penn State, given you don't know who their quarterback is going to be?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, really, the first game of the season, I've been in a lot of schools the last 20 years, but first game of the season, it's always a difficult one to prepare for, because you have more time to prepare than any game.  And you have to kind of make sure that you put your game plan handcuffs on and say, let's do what we do, let's do it well, and be ready to adjust to what we see, because there are so many unknowns.
The defensive coordinator, even though he was on the staff, his personality will be different than his predecessor and then with the quarterback situation, I think it's a system in which Coach O'Brien knows what he wants and does a good job with that position.
I'm sure it will be similar, but you know, off‑season studies and that sort of thing, you never know.  We may get three tight ends in the game a bunch, because they are talented at that.
So we have to be prepared for that and anything else.  They do a good job with their empty package, so we have to have good answers and they will try to get some mismatches on us.
So, you know, really just practicing the tendencies they have from the year behind us, and try to go into the game carrying all of our concepts and be able to pull from those concepts throughout the course of the game as we adjust to the elements.

Q.  I know you are not going to announce a starting quarterback until game time or until we see who goes on the field, but what's your philosophy in terms of just picking a guy and going with him, or maybe playing two guys in a game.
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, I think it's idealism versus realism.  Two guys that haven't started and played a lot of college football yet, we feel good about both Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen, but until you kick it off, you don't really know.
The thing we have to understand is just like any position on the field, there's going to be highs and lows, and we just have to stay steady as she goes throughout the course of the game.  In the ideal world, you would like to have a Tom Brady running it and not worry about it and get the next guy ready.  But in the realistic world, you have be to be ready to play either/or throughout the course of the game.
We will take it one play at a time, one series at a time and try to do a good job managing emotions early in the game with both those kids, whoever gets the nod and try to, once again, let the flow of the game take over and get a feel for how that guy is managing things.
But they need to understand that when they go out on the field, they will make mistakes and just try to manage them as best we can, and it's not the end of the world if something doesn't go well.  We are not just going to pull the carpet from underneath their toes and throw the next guy in.  I don't want to be in a yo‑yo situation, so once we get out there, we will kind of get it going and see how she plays out.

Q.  A couple weeks ago you had said that the wide receivers need to make a few more plays for you, especially on some of the deep balls we saw at Fort Drum; how has that progressed in the last couple weeks in terms of creating the deep threat for you?
SCOTT SHAFER:  We have had some good down‑the‑field catches made.  Adrian and Kobena have both made plays down the field, and Jarrod made a nice play the other day, as well.  So I feel good about it, I really do.
I think they took the challenge head on and I know they are excited and in anticipation for this first one.  I've been pleased with the way they have made some of those plays down the field that we were talking about a couple weeks back.

Q.  For those of us down here on Long Island that don't get to see Syracuse all the time, I just wonder if you can tell us about the different skill sets of Hunt and Allen, what each can bring to the team.
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, there's been a lot said with regards to that question, but really, I think they are actually pretty similar guys.  You know, they are both big, strong kids:  Terrel is 215 to 220‑ish; Drew is 6‑5, 230.  So they are big, strong kids.  They both have good feet and they both can run.
Really when I look at it, I don't see a huge difference from one guy to the other as far as the true skill sets are concerned.  Then the big thing is to see how they line up on their first game day and manage the offense and take command and control.
Both kids have done a good job working on command and control.  And I've been pleased with the way they have competed against one another, and at the same time, supported one another.  I think we have got two high‑character kids that have similar skill sets that we can win with, either guy on the field.

Q.  So you don't really see a change of pace that you're able to introduce to the game‑‑

Q.  One being a better runner than the other.
SCOTT SHAFER:  Like I said, they are both very similar skill sets and both of them have good feet and can run the ball.

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