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September 18, 2013

Scott Shafer

SCOTT SHAFER:  Looking forward to our second home game here at the Dome this season.  We'll be playing a very competitive Tulane team and looking to try to continue to move forward and improve.  The kids had a good workday yesterday.
And with that, any questions.

Q.  What are you seeing with Tulane, they have some guy named Montana; I know he's not 'the' Montana we all know from the 49ers, but what do you see in his son in video?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, well, he's a good player.  I idolized his dad.  I was a quarterback in college, and Holy Cow, you see the Montana name, you know, that guy was the best.  His son knows how to play the game.
He's gotten better every single game I've watched.  Went back and looked at the games he's played in, not just this year with you the prior season and his product‑‑ he's got better.  He's got good footwork and he's got a good group to throw to.  He's got a very good wide receiver in Ryan Grant, who is extremely dynamic, going to have to always know where he is on the field.
To finish the question with regards to Nick Montana, good football player who seems to get better every week.

Q.  Talk about last week, you shut out Wagner; is there something you guys still need to work on?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, the thing we always want to do, we want to take a look at the target areas that we think give us the best chance to win, the formula; stay with the formula but do a good job of correcting the pieces and parts that weren't good enough or weren't up to expectations.
After the Wagner game, prior to the Wagner game, you know, the whole objective was to go out and win the way you should win against a lower division opponent and for the most part, the kids achieved all the objectives that we put out for them.
The one area that I need to see a good improvement upon is we chart the return game versus the coverage, both in the kickoff, kickoff return comparison in the punt and punt return, and we were about even in the Wagner game, and our goal is to be plus‑ten yards on average, which is a difficult task.  I think we were at plus‑six the week before, and so that's a big target area we are working on in practice.
And a couple of the other targets we always look at:  First and foremost is the turnover ratio, and we continue to try to improve upon that.  Right now we're even for the season.  The goal is you'd like to be over plus one and a half to two; if you're plus two, you have a chance to win that game.  84 percent of the time‑‑ we had a ten‑year study that we did, and if you get plus‑two, you win 84 percent of those games, so that's our goal.
And then first down and third down:  First down our goal is to be 60 percent of the time on defense holding the opponent to three yards or less, and on offense, 60 percent of the time to try to achieve four yards or more, and that's a target area.  We are getting close.  The last two weeks on offense, we were and 57 and 55 percent; defensively we reached that goal this week at 70 percent.  And then third down, same thing.
So those are some of the targeted areas that when you look at the data analysis after a game, another area we've been really pushing hard for is defensively trying to do a good job keeping all of our missed tackles under ten yards and under 50‑‑ or, I'm sorry, ten missed tackles or fewer and 50 yards or less.  We were six for 12 last week.
And then on the flipside, offensively, trying to break tackles.  And the kids did a good job the last two weeks offensively.  We had 30 broken tackles tore 172 yards.  So those are some of those pieces and parts we target for improvement as we move into the Tulane game.

Q.  I know you have a bye next week, I know it's hard when you're playing a game this week and next week you take a week off; is there something that you're going to do this game that's going to help you carryover before you play Clemson?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Nothing more than what I just mentioned.  Target those areas and take it one dame at a time, one game at a time.

Q.  Ashton was talking to us a little bit last night about you and some of his teammates talking to him last year about channelling his emotions in a positive manner and maybe showing less.  Can you talk about his maturation from last year to this year and how he's doing in that vein?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, sure.  He's doing great.  He's improved a ton.  Yeah, when we talk about improving and then an individual's mind‑set, we talk about football maturity, and that's what he was referring to.
The biggest thing with guys like Ashton is he's an extreme competitor.  He's a gym rat.  He's the type of person‑‑ I think I mentioned this in the past.  He's been over to the house and he'll eat for ten or 15 minutes and then he will be competing at something until he leaves my driveway, whether it's shooting baskets, competition, throwing a bocce ball around, seeing who has the best dive off the diving board, whatever it may be.  He's extremely, extremely competitive.  Sometimes his focus is too narrow going into a game where he will accelerate his response in the pass, especially to the point where his disappointment changes how he plays the next play.
So that's the area that we've worked hard at, continue to work, and really for him, it's continuing to find that balance between his mind‑‑ his mind and his emotions and his body and the effects the mental side has on the physical side and he's done a nice job with that.  I've referred to it to him as the really good corners in the world can get beat on a big play and you'd never know they got beat because they wipe it off and go to the next play and make an interception.
It's the same thing at any position, and when you have a kid that's extremely competitive, the biggest thing is just to give him the plan and then have them work the plan.  And then I always talk to him about A and B comes first, and then C.
What I mean by that is if they throw the ball to you, you see with the with your eyes that's A; B, you catch it with your hands and you tuck it and protect it; and then C, is you go make more yards.  But you can't get to C without doing a good job on A and B, and that's the area he's focused in on and he's done a nice job.

Q.  When the offense struggled the first couple weeks, he was obviously pretty honest about it.  Do you look at that‑‑ was that bad, or good, or was that something that you just have to deal with with an extreme competitor and it happens?
SCOTT SHAFER:  I don't know, I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about.  He's been great with us‑‑ I don't read the media, so if it was something that he said, I'm not sure what he said.  He's very competitive, and you know, he gets it real.  That's what I love about him is it's either black or white with him.  He either got it done or he didn't and now it's managing the frustration, never too high, never too low, keep steady as she goes.

Q.  We spoke to Drew last night and he said there was no indication from you or the other coaches that he would play this weekend.  Is there a plan in place for him to see the field at all or is this Terrel's game unless something goes wrong?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Terrel will start the game, and then we will react to how things are going.
And like most positions, I compare it to most positions being the same.  If the production is good, then you keep going with it, and if it's not what you need, that's when you start to consider things.  I want him to feel comfortable with going out and playing free‑flowing, and I want Drew to be prepared to go in when his number is called.
So it will be a situation where we go out and play the game and then kind of adjust as we go and maneuver as we go.

Q.  So it's not necessarily going to be like last week‑‑
SCOTT SHAFER:  No.  Last week we scripted it in that we wanted to get Terrel in early; you know, third, fourth, fifth series, whatever it was going to be.  And then this week, it will be‑‑ see how Terrel is playing and adjust to the elements as we go and make sure you're ready to go in.

Q.  I know there's a bit of a cold going around campus, I know you have it, I actually have it, too.  I'm curious if that's something that's gotten in with the team at all; is that something that you might be worried about?
SCOTT SHAFER:  No.  I just have hayfever every year.  But no, not a concern right now.  Hopefully kids are doing a good job taking care of themselves, getting their rest.  But not an issue at this point in time.

Q.  On a different note, Tim talking about how Terrel's deep ball was looking really good yesterday and seems like he might have more confidence after the Wagner game; what do you see from him in that regard in yesterday's practice?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, he did a good job, threw some good balls.  He only had one that I thought was maybe not a great deep ball throw.  But for the most part, he looked good, and Drew looked good, too, on the other side, had some good throws.

Q.  Would you say that as far as Drew and Terrel's ability to throw the ball down the field, has Terrel closed the gap there?
SCOTT SHAFER:  You know, I haven't really looked at it quite that way.  I think they both have the ability to do it.  You know, toughest thing is, is being in the game, practice is one thing, so it was encouraging to see it in the game on Saturday.
And I know as far as Drew, he's throwing some good deep balls, too, in his reps in the game.  So I feel good that both of those kids feel confident and comfortable getting the ball down the field.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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