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October 9, 2013

Scott Shafer

SCOTT SHAFER:  Good to be on.  We look forward to our first ACC road game, going down and playing a well‑coached NC State team, and we're just excited to get back on the road.

Q.  What concerns you most as you look at that State team on film?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Well, you know, they're well‑coached.  Defensively they're going to play a good, fundamentally sound brand of football.  I have great respect for the way they coach them over there, Coach Doeren and that whole staff.  They've got a really good coaching staff.  They're going to have to really work hard.  They're stout up front, and I think they do a good job with their scheme.  So that's the defensive side for our offense.
And then offensively Matt Canada, their offensive coordinator does a great job.  He's really good at scheming you up and making things look one way and then changing them, a vast array of formation sets.  They've had a lot of success with their jet sweep families.  I think they're averaging about nine, ten yards a play on that particular play with different people running the ball.  And then they do a great job with their power, both quarterback power and running back powers, and they run counters.  So there's a lot of misdirection football, there's a lot of misdirection formational sets.  So you really have to be on task with making sure you're getting lined up correctly and putting your eyes in the right place.  Those would probably be the top things that would be of concern.

Q.  I wanted to look into what you're grabbing from the last game against Clemson.  You always talk about controlling the controllables.  What have you been trying to really control and practice since starting up yesterday and what you saw that you wanted to make better going into this game versus NC State?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, great question.  You know, the first thing is as we get back to work, getting back to improving our 1st down on both sides of the ball.  That was an area that we were poor.  I've mentioned in the past we'd like to be around that 60 percent.  We were in the 20 percent, 26 percent, I think, offensively, and 42 percent defensively, so we targeted that hard yesterday in practice as well as our takeaways and giveaways.
We gave away four, and we got two, but we need to really get back on pace there.  So that was the starting point.  But I think there's a lot of other lessons learned from getting beat by a good Clemson team, and that's just making sure we're doing a good job seeing what we're supposed to see defensively.  We gave them a couple big ones early, and it really made it difficult on us.  They were earned but they were also given up at the same time with regards to the way we played a couple of those particular plays.
Going back, working those specific plays that we didn't play well and trying to turn them into learning moments, and the big thing is learning from your mistakes.  And then as you get through that you try to accentuate on the positives, and some of the things that jumped out were we obviously ran the ball well.  I thought Jerome and the O‑line did some good things.  But defensively a couple great interceptions by Ritchy Desir and Whigham, two guys that stepped up and made some plays, and up front Jay Bromley played well.  So trying to accentuate on some of those things, and saying, hey, we made some good plays, let's see if we can get another couple of those and work hard at it during the week.  We chart everything during practice and see where we are after every period, both with the down and distance categories that we work as well as turnovers, and those are probably the biggest focus points that we've started with on a Tuesday practice, and then today we'll move forward to a little bit more 3rd down situational stuff.

Q.  How do you feel the team has been performing in your mind where they're at right now on 3rd down?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Not bad.  You know, we've left a few on the field, I can tell you that.  But defensively we have pretty good‑‑ real good 3rd down numbers.  Offensively we've gotten better as the season has gone on.  Clemson did a real good job.  Difficult processes that we had with that game was they put us way behind the sticks, so they weren't as manageable 3rd downs as you would like.  But I've seen steady progress there.  We just need to keep on keeping.  The best way to get better at it is to practice every day in practice on the grass, and that's what we'll be doing again today.

Q.  Looking at the secondary that you had mentioned with Brandon Reddish coming bark, Henry Rashard and then mixing in a guy like Wayne Morgan, what can you say about where you are at at the secondary right now and Julian Whigham as well and how comfortable you are with guys that you've worked with before in playing this game against NC State?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, I'm confident and comfortable with the kids we're playing.  I have great confidence in those kids.  They're good football players, they just‑‑ a couple of them happen to be behind a guy that started for three plus years in Keon Lyn.  It's been one of those things where we're like, hey, we've got some good corners here for the future, but they were sitting behind a pretty good player in Keon.  Opportunities come up and arise, and the best thing that happened was Julian made a nice interception and made some good tackles, and I think he's got the two picks for the year, so I've got great confidence in him, and I know Wayne Morgan is excited to get his shot at getting some reps at corner, as well.
I feel real comfortable with those kids.  They've worked really hard and they've got a great attitude and a great approach this week.  I've been pleased with that, and that's half the battle.

Q.  I've been watching the evolution or development of Terrel Hunt at quarterback.  He had his first real struggle this time.  Can you talk about how that impacted him and how you feel about his performance Saturday?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, you know, I think no one was more disappointed than Terrel.  He wanted to play well.  The thing you always have to understand is as a quarterback and as coaches that position is going to get the most scrutiny, but we all understand that it's the whole big picture and everyone around you, too.  We talk about it's always on your shoulders and you always take it because that's what we signed up for being quarterbacks at this level, but also the pieces and parts that you have to work on to continue to improve are all‑inclusive.  It's not just you.
We struggled with getting off the line of scrimmage a little bit at the wide receiver position.  Protection was up and down at times.  So there's a lot of things that come into play, and a lot of it has to be given credit to a good football team in Clemson.  Very good defensive football team with a lot of talent.
I know Terrel can't wait to get back at it.  He had a good practice yesterday, and as always, he's got a great attitude.  With great attitude and effort, he'll continue to get better because he does have good ability.

Q.  Clemson leads the league in sacks.  Can you talk about their pass rush, specifically Vic Beasley, a guy that leads the nation in sacks, what kind of problems they present?
SCOTT SHAFER:  Yeah, he's a great player.  We've had some good D‑ends here at Syracuse.  Chandler Jones is one that comes to mind that I had a chance to coach, and obviously everybody knows Dwight Freeney.  When you look at Beasley you say he's one of those guys.  He's special.  He moves like a wide receiver when he puts his foot in the grass.  He just does it with a lot more force, and he's got great powerful hips that when he bull rushes people he keeps them honest that way.
From an athletic point of view, you've got to worry about his speed.  You've got to worry about his counter move, but also his ability to bull rush, which is probably like if it was a pitcher, it might be his third pitch.  It's kind of speed, movement and then bull rush.  But that bull rush is very explosive.  He doesn't use it as much as his athleticism, but he causes a lot of problems because now you're thinking, all right, we've got to account for him in two or three different ways by putting another guy there or trying to cover it up with a tight end coming in and make the edge longer.  But he's a great player, and he's going to do really well for himself.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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