Every week, the head football coaches of the ACC jump on a teleconference with different members of the media. They usually have an opening statement about their team and then take questions, as well as preview the upcoming opponent. Here are the transcripts from Bobby Petrino and Scott Shafer, head coach of the Syracuse Orange. Check out what they both had to say coming into the game on Friday night in the Carrier Dome.
Bobby Petrino – Louisville
BOBBY PETRINO: We’re excited about traveling to Syracuse. We’re coming off of a good win against Wake Forest at home, and we know we have a great challenge ahead of us at Syracuse. Our players are looking forward to it. Our defense has been playing real well. Offensively we’re still working to find some consistency.
Q. I know you’ve talked about the challenge of going up to Syracuse. What have you seen on film from the Orange offensively with Terrel Hunt and some of the weapons they have that are really are looking to be able to battle up against and stop? What can you say about their quarterback and their weapons?
BOBBY PETRINO: Well, I think they give you a challenge of a quarterback who can really run the football, both the way they’re calling plays for him to run or just his ability to scramble and take off and make plays when other things break down. They’ve shown the ability to really throw the ball deep, which is something that always concerns you, and they’re running backs really run the ball well. I think they’ve got two good running backs.
Q. When you say two good running backs, which two are you describing? Is it Moore and Gulley that you’re talking about?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, I think they’ve done a nice job running the ball with them. They’re both real quick and have shown that they can make plays.
Q. I think you mentioned earlier this week that you’ve got some players with a chip on their shoulder from the last time they played up in Syracuse. How much have the players talked about that?
BOBBY PETRINO: Well, I just heard it after our game, after the Wake Forest game, the players being excited about going back to Syracuse, and I asked one of our coaches, what’s that all about, and they said, oh, well, a couple years ago they were going on their way up there and they were undefeated at the time and lost the game. But really since then I haven’t heard a whole lot. But our focus is really just to get ready to play and go up and do a good job of playing the game right.
Q. At this point in the season did you expect the defense to be ahead of the offense?
BOBBY PETRINO: I knew we were good on defense, yeah. When you go through spring ball and you go through camp and you’re going against each other every day, there was no question that our defense was getting the upper hand on the offense. It’s a very, very good front, fast linebackers, and I’ve just been really pleased with the way our safeties have played and the secondary. Corners I knew were good players, and offensively we’ve just struggled. We haven’t had the consistency that we need to be able to execute and go score points on a consistent basis.
Q. I know you were watching last week more Wake Forest defense entering the game, but I wonder if you saw enough glimpses of John Wolford to have formulated an opinion on where this young man is and what his potential is, especially since he’s handed the starting job in the ACC at the age of 18.
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, I’ve known John for a long time, really respected him coming up through high school. We started watching him when he was a freshman in high school, and I have a close relationship with his uncle. He’s somebody that we really did watch closely. He’s going to be a really good quarterback. I think when you see the struggles we have with young quarterbacks and they have with young quarterbacks, it’s a tough situation, to come in and have to adjust to that type of speed and that type of pass rush that you didn’t see in high school football.
Q. Everything that we read before Todd (Grantham) came to U of L and took over the defensive coordinator job said that he ran this real complex, complicated defense, but I’m wondering if you can explain what that might mean to the layperson.
BOBBY PETRINO: Well, Todd and I had discussions on that, and when you look at the success that he had on defense as a coach at Georgia, the only time the defense started being quoted as other people saying it, complicated and too complex, was when they were starting a bunch of freshmen on defense. He’s a great teacher. Our players have done an excellent job of being students and learning fast and understanding it, and our guys have a great grasp of everything that we’re doing on defense.
Q. And you know I’ve got to ask, where do you guys stand with Will? Do you know if he’s going to be available on Friday?
BOBBY PETRINO: Yeah, there’s a chance he’ll be available. Reggie will start the game. Will was out there last night, did more in practice. Reports from the training room this morning was that there was limited swelling, so we get a chance to get him out today at practice again.
Q. Obviously you came back to the school with the reputation of Petrino’s offensive ways, he’s going to make the offense fun to watch. How frustrated are you or not by how the offense has done so far, and what’s going to be the key to getting the cones you want in the coming week?
BOBBY PETRINO: Well, we’re a work in progress. It just takes time I think to get everything going in the right direction. Obviously I think we all have a little bit of frustration when you’re not going out there and moving the ball like you’re used to doing. But it’s a lot of learning for the players, a lot of different techniques, a lot of different things that they had to adjust to, and then we’ve had some different combinations, you know. We just have to hang in there, stick to the process, understand that if you stay with the process, we know that it’ll work. I would like to see it happen a lot sooner than later.
Q. I was wondering what DeVante Parker’s status is. How is his recovery coming along, and is he someone that you’re hoping to be able to get some production out of before the season is over?
BOBBY PETRINO: His recovery is going very well. He’s on schedule or ahead of schedule from everything that’s communicated to me and from watching him run, so he’s doing well. I think we’ll know a little bit maybe next week. That’s kind of the six-week point is next week.
Scott Shafer – Syracuse
SCOTT SHAFER: Looking forward to getting back home in the Dome and reuniting with an old rivalry from the Big East that’s now a great part of the ACC Conference. Looking forward to that opportunity. With that, any questions?
Q. I wanted to ask you about that game two years ago against Louisville. No one outside of the program really gave you guys much of a chance against them, they were unbeaten at the time. What are some of the biggest memories that stand out from that win? What worked so well for you guys?
SCOTT SHAFER: Well, you know, it was a long time ago, but obviously it was a good victory for us. Kids played hard, well. Offensively Ryan Nassib played well, and just a great victory, great victory in the Dome and that sort of thing. From a coach’s perspective that was a long time ago and a lot different situation that we’re confronted with right now. Right now we’re just kind of focused in on finding a way to move the ball against one of the best defenses in the country, and looking forward to that challenge, and then a great mind in Coach Petrino on offense. We’ve got a great challenge in front of us here as we get back home in the Dome.
Q. I wanted to start with you, obviously you said there’s a big challenge coming from Louisville. From what you’ve seen and what you know, what are some of the biggest challenges that they’ve put forward on defense going up against your offense?
SCOTT SHAFER: Well, I think it starts, they have a very good football coach in Todd Grantham over there. I’ve always admired his work throughout the years. I don’t really know him personally, but he’s a very good football coach, and he’s got some very good players. They were a very good defense last year, as well, as you know. They’ve got great playmakers. That safety (Gerod) Holliman, I remember him in high school, and he’s a great player. Six interceptions already this year. And there’s a reason why you take those kids that can run and hit and put them in a great coordinator like Coach Grantham, that’s why they’re No. 1 in the country in rush defense, No. 3 total defense, and just all over the place with all the other categories in the top 10, top 12. So that’s where the first challenge starts. And then you flip it to the other side of the ball, and Coach Petrino, he’s one of the better offensive minds in college football. He really knows how to keep you off balance. He breaks his tendencies week to week, changes up formations on you and personnel groupings, keeps you out of being able to match personnel at times on 3rd down. Those are just a handful of the things, and then you couple those two great coaches with great talent, and you’ve got a definite challenge in front of you.
Q. And then as far as on your side, and I know you just got back to practice, and I know you’ve been looking at film as soon as you got back from Notre Dame, but as you move forward with this team, what can you say about how they’re responding, and if there is resiliency that they’re not going to allow what’s happened in the past, what happened against Notre Dame, to trickle into this game? How have you seen the team respond so well?
SCOTT SHAFER: They’ve responded extremely well. We have a great group of young men. They’ll never give in. They’ll keep fighting their buns off. We played a very good Notre Dame football team, had some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. There were some good things. There were some good silver linings in that game. I thought our pass protection was good. I thought Terrel Hunt threw the ball down the field well. I thought defensively we were very physical and forced some good turnovers there. So there’s a lot of things. A lot of things we have to upgrade, but we’re going to accentuate the positives and go to work as hard as we can with the things that we want to get to a higher level. So that’s what we’ve been doing. Kids’ resilience has been great, and they’ll be ready to go.
Q. Obviously the news came out last night that Naesean Howard is no longer with the team. I wonder if you have any more to add to that and if there’s any chance that Naesean could rejoin down the road?
SCOTT SHAFER: You know, like I mentioned, we decided to go and part ways, and just wish him all the luck in the world. He’s a good football player, very talented young man, and wish nothing but the best to him.
Q. In regards to the quarterback situation for Louisville this week, they have Will Gardner, the red-shirt sophomore, and then they have Reggie Bonnafon, the freshman. Coach Petrino said Bonnafon will start, but how are you preparing for the QB situation that Louisville has?
SCOTT SHAFER: Well, they’re both young men that have quality reps underneath their belt, and they both have good skill sets. I don’t think it’ll be a change agent in what Coach Petrino does. He’s going to do what he does, and obviously he’s been very successful at that. You know, different than maybe if you had a guy that was running option with one guy and drop-back with the other. I don’t see it as being two different game plans the way I see it. I think both those kids are very capable, and we need to be ready to defend the offense and whichever quarterback is in the game.
Q. Obviously coming off that win last week, another game where I’m sure you did not do as much offensively as you had hoped, what’s going to be key for you in the coming weeks to get more production like you did against Central Michigan in upcoming games like this week?
SCOTT SHAFER: Just staying with the plan, staying with what we believe in, understanding that we’ve been close in a lot of areas, and to me it’s just staying true to the formula that we believe in. We’ll keep on pounding it out until we make those improvements that we’re all looking forward to seeing on game day.
Q. Are you concerned or frustrated? Did you feel with Hunt looking back that this offense would be better than it is right now, or did you kind of figure with Jerome Smith’s absence it was going to be kind of a work in progress for you at this point in the season?
SCOTT SHAFER: No, not concerned and frustrated. Coaching ball, one day at a time.
Q. I know that a lot of the stats that they piled up defensively come on quarterback sacks, but they’re extremely difficult against the running game. What is it that makes them so effective against the run?
SCOTT SHAFER: Well, I think Coach Grantham does a great job presenting different looks for the offense to attack, and then that scheme is backed up with very good football players. Coach Strong did a great job stockpiling some very talented defensive players on that side of the ball there, and when you take a smart defensive coordinator and couple it with great athletes, you see that No. 1 rush defense in the country, so it’ll be a great challenge for us, and we look forward to it.
Q. Also, this is their fourth conference game and your first. Does it seem like it’s taken you a long time to get to this point?
SCOTT SHAFER: I really haven’t thought about it that much to be quite honest with you. Looking forward to getting started with the ACC Conference now, but just kind of go at it one week at a time and try to focus on the things that are right out in front of you, and for us it’s been out-of-conference play. For them it’s been the other.