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September 4, 2013

Scott Shafer

SCOTT SHAFER:  Just want to start off by saying we had a tough loss against Penn State.  I liked the way our kids competed.  I thought they played as hard as they could for as long as they could, we just didn't win enough small battles to finish it the way we wanted to.  But I'm excited about the progress the kids are making and the direction we're going.

Q.  I just wanted to ask you to give us an evaluation, Drew Allen, his first career start as a senior, and how you evaluated his play.
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah.  If you just looked at the stats sheet you'd say, boy, I wish we could have done better.  But big picture I was real pleased with the way Drew played.  The things I was most pleased with, he never really was flustered on the sideline.  I thought he had good control and command.  He kept working towards making the next play go.  We had a few dropped balls in there and a couple missed routes by the supporting cast, but I liked the way he worked positively through those situations, and I'm looking forward to seeing him get his second start this week against Northwestern.

Q.  This is an unusual situation for a guy to wait that long to make his first start.  Can you talk about what he's done during his career to put himself in this position?
SCOTT SHAFER:  The biggest thing is he's done a good job coming to camp and playing.  Just playing the game the way we're asking him to play.  It's college football; we had Greg Paulus do the same thing a few years ago when we first got the job here, and you kind of look at it as he's an older freshman in your system because it was his first summer camp and his first opportunity to compete in the system.  When you look at it that way, you know, you can say, well, he's an older guy, but he's a freshman.  He's an older freshman starting in a new system.
With all those things being said, I was not disappointed with the way he attacked it.

Q.  When you look at Northwestern on film, what concerns you the most in terms of their offense?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, Coach Fitzgerald and Mick McCall as offensive coordinator, they do a great job with the spread offense, creating a quick tempo, and they have like two or three different speeds they can go at.  The thing that makes them most perplexing in preparing for them is they have two different styles of quarterbacks that they can play.  You have Colter and you have Siemian.  Colter is the athlete back there that's good at the designed run plays as well as creating space and time with his feet in the passing game, whereas Siemian is a little bit more traditional and a little bit more pinpoint accurate with his passing game and reading coverages.  You're really preparing with two types of game plans depending on who's in the game, and that's probably the most perplexing side of your game from a defensive point of view.

Q.  I have a quick question about Ashton Broyles.  We saw him pretty much almost exclusively in the slot against Penn State.  Do you kind of see him as gradually opening up the playbook more, doing some stuff in the backfield, or do you think he's almost better suited finding some consistency there?
SCOTT SHAFER:  A little bit of both.  I think as consistency grows from one position, it also lends its hand to moving around and playing in other spots.  As long as he continues to progress, there's more things we can do with him.  And you can say that about a lot of kids in the program, in any program.  Brisly Estime is another guy that I would be able to say the same things about.  You kind of want him to take Football 101, master it, get an A in the class, and then move forward to Football 201, and that's kind of where I see Ashton right now.

Q.  My other question was about Brisly, and you had said a couple weeks ago that you really didn't want to overload him with too much stuff.  As we saw against Penn State he only had a couple snaps, he had that swing pass.  Do you plan on using him more against Northwestern or do you think it's more of a gradual process that's going to take a few more weeks?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, I think you kind of answered it there yourself; a gradual process means a little bit more, and I think he's ready for that.

Q.  How important is it this week to establish the run game since it didn't do so great last week?
SCOTT SHAFER:  I think every game presents its own challenges.  I think 99 percent of the offensive coordinators in the country will say you want to establish a run game to set up the pass, and really you've got to look at every game plan and say what can we start off with that we feel good about that can set up the rest of the offense.  From one week to the next it could be a little bit different.
Being a defensive coordinator in my career, in the notebook it always said we would stop the run first and force them to pass and blah‑blah‑blah, but there are some games in which you may have to flip that mindset.  So I think each and every week will present itself with a new plan that you're pulling from your notebook and you're pulling from your studies of who they are and who they aren't on the other side of the ball to make those decisions.
But I don't think you can be truly steadfast with just one or the other.  You have to be flexible in this day and age, especially with the different types of offense and defense you see.

Q.  Pat Fitzgerald said twice that you guys could have and should have won that game against Penn State.  Can you talk about your relationship with Fitz over the years?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, I remember when he was finishing up playing when I was real young, and I always admired him as a player, and then as I've gotten to know him as a person and as a coach, that admiration has done nothing but grow.
And I think he's right; I think our staff and our kids both feel the same way, that if we make one more play here or there, we put ourselves in a position to come out with a victory, and that's football.  And we didn't get that done.  I think he's dead on, and really for the most part I guess all I can say above and beyond that is that he's a great coach that I truly respect.

Q.  And following up, do you play the whole guessing game that Northwestern fans are, will Kain Colter play, will he not?  Do you read practice reports or do you just prepare the game?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, I think you try to stay cognizant on whether a kid is going to play or not, but when the word "probable" jumps in or "questionable" jumps in, then you have to say it's black and white for us; we have to prepare for each guy in each situation because you kick yourself in the rump if you come at the end of the game and you say we should have done more of this, we knew there was a chance he could play.  It's always easier when they say this kid is out, and then you move forward and say, okay, that we'll take away.  But right now we have to say they're both playing and prepare that way.

Q.  Now that you're in the middle of it, how much does it help or hurt you guys to start off the season with two Big Ten teams?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, I mean, you have to look at it a bunch of different ways.  You can say a lot of teams in the country will start off with some warm‑up games, and there's benefits to that.  But on the flipside, a lot of us are starting off with foes that are pretty doggone good, and that's what our schedule says, so you take what it is and you control the things you can control, and you just work forward to prepare to get better.
In the long run, playing two Big Ten schools I think will help prepare us as we get into conference play.  In the short‑term you say, you know, it is what it is.  You can't really have 20/20 hindsight unless you're doing all the scheduling and that sort of thing.
It's the nature of college football, and for us it's control the things we can, and right now it's preparing for a Northwestern team and our second Big Ten opponent, which will help us in the long run.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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