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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 6, 2013


Scott Shafer


THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Scott Shaffer.
COACH SHAFFER:  Good to be on.  The kids had a good victory against Wake Forest, and we're moving forward and preparing for a good football team this weekend going to Maryland.  And it will be a good challenge for us.
With that, any questions?
THE MODERATOR:  Questions?

Q.  Noticed that Durell Eskridge is leading the defense this season.  What kind of year has he had for you guys?
COACH SHAFFER:¬† He's done a real good job.¬† Really a first‑year starter as far as positionally in all situations, both in our base defense and our pre‑dump packages.¬† He's done a great job.¬† We're excited about his progress.
He's improved on all the things we had him work on in the off‑season and couldn't be happier with the way he's progressing.

Q.  Where has he made the biggest progression?
COACH SHAFFER:  Probably understanding the defense and understanding coverage better.  He came out of Miami Central High School and they won the state championship and really they kind of played him at wide receiver and in the middle of the field and just said keep the game in front of you.
But he really didn't have a lot of knowledge with coverages and understanding how the different pieces fit together and did a nice job in this off‑season studying tape and spending time with the coaches to try to come to a little bit higher football IQ off the field.
His football IQ on the field is pretty good.  He sees things well reacts really quickly but that's probably the biggest area.  Just understanding the defense.

Q.  Does Ryan Norton come right back for you guys and come right back into the starting lineup this week?
COACH SHAFFER:  Yes.

Q.¬† I know you haven't dealt with too many off‑the‑field issues since you've been here, the ones this summer you sent the kids home.¬† What went into making Ryan's suspension a one‑week thing?
COACH SHAFFER:  It's just my policy.

Q.  To go from the result you had against Georgia Tech and then to turn around and have the shutout win against Wake Forest, what changed for that dramatic turnaround there?
COACH SHAFFER:  I can't remember back that far at Georgia Tech.  It's out of my mind.  I've repressed it.  The kids did a good job preparing for Wake Forest and looked in front of themselves and not backwards after we told them not to, and that's really where we're at.  The kids did a good job.  Now Wake Forest is behind us, all our mindset's on Maryland.

Q.  What did your defense do differently or better last week?
COACH SHAFFER:  They won the game and shut a team out.

Q.  But my question would be, like in terms of what contributed to that?  Was it just a lot of little improvements or one big thing differently that they improved upon?
COACH SHAFFER:  They shut them out.

Q.  I know Eric Crume was a gametime decision this week.  How has he doing in practice?  Is he back 100percent?  What's the status for Maryland?
COACH SHAFFER:  He practiced real well yesterday and he looked like the old Eric Crume on tape.  I think our staff did a great job bringing him around, and I think he only played nine snaps against Wake.
We were in the point where the kids were playing well enough and the plan that we had going into it and we just felt like let's keep him off the field if we can; if we need him we probably would have played him a little bit more.
And the scheme they were running helped us a little bit because we were in our Okey package.  So we tried to be smart with him.  And, like I said, I think our training staff has done a great job getting him back.  He looked good at practice yesterday.  I think he's close to being 100percent.

Q.  And the other guy I was curious about was George Morris, seems like he's been out a while.  Is he a guy who you expect to get back soon or this season or what's come up with that?
COACH SHAFFER:¬† George practiced yesterday and had a good practice.¬† Kind of have to knock the rust off, but it's good to see him back out there.¬† And we want to try to get him going again.¬† We'll just progress him day‑by‑day and try to get him up to speed.¬† A lot of depth at that position.¬† So we'll kind of take it day‑by‑day.

Q.  This is an ACC game, but Maryland is only in it for one more year.  Does it have any kind of a different feel?
COACH SHAFFER:  No, not really.  We haven't had an opportunity to play Maryland.  So it's a new team.  Like you said, obviously ACC this year, Big Ten next year.
It's a good football team, coached well by Coach Edsall.  Really, you know, it's an ACC game this year.  Don't look much further than that.

Q.  Talk about facing Maryland, C.J. Brown might start or the other guy, what do you do in practice to get ready for both quarterbacks?
COACH SHAFFER:  I think both have similarities.  C.J., prior to being injured, runs the ball pretty well, better than probably Caleb.  But they've done a nice job playing to their strengths.  So we prepare for both of them and we understand when 16's on the field, he's a little bit better runner, probably.
But really I think they've done a great job.  I really like Brandon Ross and Albert Reid.  Those are two good tailbacks, I think I mentioned it yesterday, they can play just about anywhere.
And then hat's off to Coach Edsall for bringing those wide receivers around, too.¬† Unfortunate that their top two guys are injured, because they're good football players and they were fun to watch.¬† But the Jacobs youngster, Levern Jacobs and Nigel King have done a nice job.¬† Amba Etta‑Tawo, hope I said it right.¬† They've done a real good job.¬† That wide receiver corps is extremely deep and they're a very good football team well coached and, offensively, almost scoring I think a little bit under 30 points a game and putting up good numbers with 430 a game.
And so we'll have our hands full.  I think it's the whole, and I think both quarterbacks are very capable, and I think that obviously they asked them to do the things they can do and that's smart on their part.  It's a good football team.  That offensive line is talented, too.  And they screen, they get down the field as fast as anything, I had to rewind it a couple times to see if it was a tight end or a fullback but holy cow it's the guard, it's the center, it's the tackle.  So they're a very athletic team and we'll have our hands full.

Q.  [Question off microphone]  first time been down here so long.  What are your expectations for playing at College Park?
COACH SHAFFER:  Looking forward to it.  It will be a road trip for us.  It's fun to do that as a coach.  And as players get on the airplane and go to a venue we haven't been in.  I've been there many years ago when I was coaching at another school.
So I'll be interested to see what it's like.  But it's a special weekend, too, for us.  The Wilmeth Sidat story is an unbelievable story.  And going to Maryland with our team, I talked to the kids about the fact that Maryland was doing a good job at kind of taking the better late than never approach to honor Singh family.  It's been 76 years ago that the ugliness of our country's battle with racial injustice reaches to the football field.
It happened to be the Syracuse football team, one of our own, one of our great former football players.¬† Within the lifetime of our kids and coaches, you look at it and it's an opportunity for our kids to look at it and say we have great opportunity to do what we should have always been able to do as an African‑American athlete and that's to play a game and to play a game in a college setting.
So it's going to be a really good experience for our kids to go down there and play in College Park against a good football team and also it's a teaching moment and an opportunity for our kids to look backwards and look at the history of our country and the history of our country's ugliness at times in the past and be part of righting a situation that was horribly wrong 75, 76 years ago.

Q.  I was looking at the stats.  Riley Dixon had three punts over 50 yards last week, and he's got 12 and at least 50 yards this season.  Do you look at him in a way as a weapon for you, a kind of guy who can change field position and that sort of thing?
COACH SHAFFER:¬† Yes.¬† In the punt game, more field position is either‑‑ in a football game, more field position is gain and lost with the punt in the punt return teams.¬† So it's a huge weapon.¬† And being an old defensive guy, I loved a good punter.¬† And Riley's done a wonderful job for us.¬† Really proud of him.¬† And he's changed field position drastically in some big moments in our games this year and I think he's one of those guys that's rightly on the Ray Guy watch list.

Q.  He's kicked one as long as 75 yards this year.  Is there ever a problem of him outkicking the coverage?
COACH SHAFFER:¬† Oh, you know, sometimes.¬† His hangtime has been good and when we do our rugby punts he gets the ball where it's supposed to be.¬† So it's kind of a combination of when we go into a game plan whether we want to traditionally put it up in the air high and work the coverage or if we want to mix in some rugby from week‑to‑week.¬† I think we've tried to say when in a traditional formation hang it up there make sure we have good coverage and when you're in a rugby situation, drive it and let that thing hit the roll, and he's done a good job in both areas.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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