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September 25, 2013

Scott Shafer

SCOTT SHAFER:  Had a good victory against Tulane.  I felt like all three phases came to play, and now we have a bye week, a chance to get reconditioned and healthy as we have with a little bit of time here, and then prepare for a big game against Clemson.

Q.  I wanted to ask you first and foremost about this ACC game and how much you've been looking into Clemson moving forward and how excited you are as a coach to be part of this history for Syracuse.
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, first off, it's just great to be in the conference.  I think that it was a great move for us in house, and hopefully the ACC feels great about having Syracuse in the conference as much as we do.
And then starting off arguably the best team in the conference in Clemson will be a heck of a challenge for us and a great opportunity for sues and the students and the community out here to see some of the best players in the conference that play for Clemson.

Q.  Also looking at this game and moving forward, special teams has been big for you, and it's something that Syracuse has struggled with in the past.  What's going right on special teams, and what coaches do you really credit with being able to teach the right things and have that success like the three blocks you had last week?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† Yeah.¬† Well, we try to structure our practice time this summer in summer camp, and we doubled how much time we put into it from the previous year.¬† So we really felt like it was a big focus point.¬† Coach Doust is in charge of coordinating all the special teams, and he's done a great job getting the kids and the coaches prepared with good plans, good targeting as we go into each game, and more specifically last week it was a great job by Fred Reid coaching the punt block and return team, and I thought we got good pressure obviously with the one in the coming‑out zone, got the ball to our offense inside the 10‑yard line with a nice block by Durell Eskridge, I think it was maybe even inside the 5.¬† It was a great job by Coach Reid preparing them.¬† We felt like there were some areas that we could exploit, and the kids did a nice job with that.¬† And then I was pleased with our field goal block team, as well when John Raymon got the block in that one, and then we were in a punt safe situation defensively, and it was just a good effort by Eric Crume coming up and trying to play through the field, and he got his hand on it, and all three of those blocks led to 21 points.¬† You credit the punt block team of Coach Reid and the defense, as well, with giving our offense an opportunity, and then the offense did a nice job taking the ball in those sudden‑change situations and turning them into points.

Q.  There's been quite a few high scoring games in the ACC.  What do you make of that?  Are you surprised by it?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† I think it's a lightning‑quick conference with a lot of skilled athletes on the perimeter, and it's a lot of high potency schemes that give those schools opportunities to make plays in space, and that's what you see when you watch the videotape.¬† They're a very exciting conference to watch from an offensive point of view especially with some of the best players in the country with the ball in their hands, and I think a combination of good coaching, with very adequate schemes, coupled with exceptional athletes is probably the biggest result in all the high scores.

Q.  What does Christopher Clark bring to this team?  He's been so good in the last few games?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† Yeah, Chris had a good off‑season.¬† He really worked hard, put a lot of extra time in catching balls on his own, running routes.¬† After all the practice sessions he was always out there getting extra work in, and he's done a nice job learning the offense Coach McDonald has implemented and understanding his role, and when the opportunities have come, he's done a nice job making plays for us.
I think you can credit Chris's success with all of his hard work and all the work ethic he's put into it the last few months.

Q.  It really doesn't matter how big you are, I guess, in this game.
SCOTT SHAFER:  No, especially with the advent of spreading people out, and you can play an undersized guy and get him the ball in space, and if they catch the ball well and can make plays with their feet, then they have a place in the game, in the college game.  They're really doing a good job, not just Chris but all the kids, understanding the scheme and progressively getting better from week one to week four now.

Q.  I was wondering if there was an update on a few guys who had been banged up:  Brandon Reddish, Robert Welsh particularly, and then also Kyle Knapp, I still haven't seen him out.  Is he all right?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† Yeah, Kyle will be back practicing‑‑ this week we're really not having practice with gear on.¬† We're doing a lot of running, a lot of lifting and some drill work, and Kyle is cleared to come out and practice this week.¬† Robby Welsh is doing well.¬† We had a scare with him, but he's back and ready to go, as well and lifting and running already.¬† And then Brandon Reddish will probably be questionable for Clemson.¬† He's got a lower leg injury, but it'll be one of those things where we monitor it every day and see how he's coming around.¬† But I see all three of those kids eventually getting back on the field for us.

Q.  I was wondering, you talked about after the game how this was an important week, not only for the team to rest up a little bit but also for the coaches recruiting.  How do you kind of balance that this week and are there any specific recruiting goals you want to accomplish in a bye week?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† Well, the biggest goal from a recruiting standpoint is just to get out and continue doing some effective evaluations.¬† You know, getting out on the road in different areas and seeing the high schools that have the kids that we're evaluating and getting‑‑ really picking up transcripts, paperwork, making sure kids are on track with their course work and watching videotape in the coaches' offices at those schools if we have a chance watching them practice.¬† But it's a big evaluation time and an opportunity to get out there and solidify feeling good about the kids that we have offered and seeing if there are any other kids out there that fit the mold into our recruiting.
Big evaluation time.  And then with our players in house, to me it's a week to get healthy, get strong, and recondition the kids.  You know, once you get four games in in the season, the kids are banged up a little bit, and it's a good opportunity to try to work the soreness out of their muscles and out of their joints and try to get them back on track with their conditioning, get their legs back, that sort of thing.
So what we're doing is we've been having heavy lifting days and heavy run days starting today.  We'll get some good running in after they lift today, Thursday, Friday, and then we'll also have the lifting stuff continue, as well as they'll get out there and work on drill work that are position specific this week.  And then we'll ramp it up and start back with the Clemson game planning as we get into the weekend.

Q.  Just looking forward to next week a little bit, how are you planning to prep your defense for a quarterback like Boyd that can throw the ball downfield so effectively and yet has not thrown an interception this year?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, well, it's a difficult task.  He's a very good football player.  You could argue he's the best quarterback in the country.  He's played a lot of football, obviously, and he's a legitimate Heisman Trophy type of guy.
You know, he understands Dabo's offense extremely well.  He gets the ball out quick to a very talented wide receiver corps.  He also has some tight ends that do a great job blocking on the perimeter as well as catching the ball.  And then when things aren't there, he does a nice job not forcing it and lets his feet take over to try to move the sticks with his legs.  You've got a seasoned veteran that's played very good football for them and understands the offense inside and out.

Q.  You did a nice job with some premier quarterbacks last year with Bridgewater and Geno Smith.  Any of the same game planning going to be used for Boyd?
SCOTT SHAFER:¬† Well, we're still working on it.¬† There will be some similarities, some different things.¬† The offenses are‑‑ there's some characteristics in the Clemson offense that are quite a bit different than those schools that we played against, so the game plan will be such that it matches up against what their personnel groupings are and the way they try to attack the different looks that teams have given them.
There are some similarities, but there's a lot of differences, as well.

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