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November 13, 2013

Scott Shafer

COACH SHAFER:  Good to be on.  The kids are coming off a strong road victory in Maryland.  And now we're ramping it up to try to prepare for one of the best teams in college football, if not the best.  Florida State has done a great job representing the conference.  And we look forward to going down there and giving it our best effort.

Q.  What do you do this week with the offense against Florida state?  The quarterback is tall and mobile.  What do you have to do to stop him from racking up points?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, do a better job than everybody else.  They're averaging 50 points a game, as you well know.  And I think we've got to play to our strength and limit our weaknesses and hide our weaknesses and try to change things up on them.  But he's a very good player.  And their offense is excellent.  Their wide receivers are really good.  You put that combination with a great scheme, well coached football team, you can see why everybody has struggled against them.

Q.  Talk about your team, your offense seems like it's clicking, the defense is doing good the last few weeks, shutting out opponents.  So what's been the difference this time this year than the beginning of the year?
COACH SHAFER:  I think offensively we've grown.  We've figured out a little bit closer to what we need to be, as far as an identity.  Again, that's one of the things we've done well.  Trying to work on the things we haven't done as well as we wanted to.  I think targeting the different areas.  The offense has done a good job.
Defensively at times this year we've played really good defensive football.  And as of late we've gotten better.  The kids are playing with a degree of excitement and they're doing a better job with the anticipation side of football.  Still a long way to go.  But our coaching staff has done a nice job progressing forward with the kids that we're playing with.  I think we can still make plays, and that's the biggest area of the game I've seen.

Q.  You mentioned that you guys are closer to finding your identity on offense.  How much does that have to do with the success you've been able to have running the ball here in the last couple of weeks and building off of what you were able to do earlier in the season there?
COACH SHAFER:  I think you're right on.  The running game is something we've done a pretty good job with.  And regardless of which games we've been on, we've been pretty consistent from that side of it.
And then we've tried to look at what we are on offense, passing the ball, and what we aren't.  And tried to hone in on what we can do comfortably, as well as the wide receivers.  And try to use that formula to come up with who we are.
So we're getting a little bit closer.  We're never as far along as we want to be.  But we are getting a little closer, and the kids are playing with an increased level of confidence.

Q.  To follow up on your defense, what do you particularly like how your defense has played the last two games?
COACH SHAFER:  I think I always felt like stats are for losers.  But your stats are better, so that's a good thing.  But I think more than anything the physicality, I think they're playing top brand of defensive football.  And tackling well.  And we need to do that.  More than anything, it's that physicality, that's probably the part that I'm most pleased with.  They're playing with great attitude and effort and then finishing with tough, hard nosed, physical style tackling, and I think I've seen that from our kids really the whole season.  But it's becoming more consistent the last couple of games.

Q.  Although actually if you look at your season, as I look at it, you've had three really bad defensive games.  But other than that you've been a pretty solid defense all season.  Is there a common theme in the three games where you got pushed around that define it?
COACH SHAFER:  Yeah, and I don't think it was so much getting pushed around.  I think from a physicality point of view, even in those games that we did not play well we played tough, we just didn't play smart.  And we gave those teams a lot of free points by the inconsistency, especially in our coverage.  And that's the part that will kill a good defense.  You're only three or four games away from handling it to them, and then everything looks lopsided, both the score and the stat line.  I think the things we've been able to do well consistently have been play well.  And the inconsistent side of things, we've given up some big plays, especially in the three games you mentioned, will be the part that's the most discouraging ‑‑ not discouraging, but the most inconsistent, more than anything that really gives you the poor numbers in the contest.  But I love the attitude and the effort of the kids.

Q.  I just wanted to ask about the test you have this week.  No one has held Florida under 41 points.  Is it possible you can play well and still give up a bunch this week?
COACH SHAFER:  Well, we've proven that, my whole career being a defensive coach, there have been games that we lost that looked ugly on the score board where we played well except for four or five plays, so to answer your question, yes.  The biggest thing is consistency, keep the game in front of you.  Stay within the framework of what you can do and be extremely physical and send the ball back to your help every opportunity you get underneath.  This is a great Florida State offense.  One of the better college offenses I've seen in years.  So we'll have our hands full, but that's what we signed up and that's a great challenge for us.

Q.  Who would you say are the leaders on your defense?
COACH SHAFER:  Probably Jay Bromley and Marquis Spruill, two senior captains that virtually got every vote from their teammates when we voted for captain, as well as the coaches.  They've done a nice job.  Two different type of personalities.  But both consistent leaders, because they kind of ‑‑ they know the way and then they show the way and that's the part I like about both of those guys.  If you go to practice and watch them, they're very consistent, playing with great effort and off the football field they're very consistent with having a great attitude in the locker room and bringing the young guys along.  Those are the two guys not only on the defensive side, but the whole team that have done a great job in leading the way.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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