Syracuse Prep Notes

Sylvan Lane with some notes from Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer's Tuesday teleconference.

-- Shafer was extremely complimentary of Northwestern during the teleconference, expressing his admiration of Pat Fitzgerald and offensive coordinator Mick McCall, whom he coached against in the MAC. He praised McCall's creativity and noted his tendency to mix in both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian throughout the course of the game.

"[Northwestern will] have a plan and they'll have different ways of getting to their best plays regardless of who's playing, so for us we have to prepare for both guys—both Colter and Siemian—and understand that both those guys as we speak today are guys we have to be ready to deal with on Saturday."

--When asked by PW if Colter and Venric Mark's injuries would change the way he prepared his defense for Saturday's game, Shafer said it wouldn't.

"Colter's an all-around athlete who can really make a lot of plays with his feet, and he doesn't throw the ball bad either, especially when [he extends the course of the play with his feet.] And Siemian, he's a real good thrower—great touch, great vision and it looks like he's gotten bigger and stronger this year. So we have to be prepared for both styles."

--Shafer said he would do the same for Mark on kick returns, even though he didn't take a kick or punt return against Cal, and was listed behind Tony Jones for punt returns on the depth chart for the Syracuse game released yesterday. Shafer said he's emphasizing consistency and lane integrity for his special teams, and he called Mark one of the best returners in the nation when he's healthy. Mark memorably returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown at Syracuse last season.

--Syracuse lost to Penn State 23-17 at Metlife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets, Saturday, and struggled to find any semblance of a rhythm on offense. Quarterback Drew Allen, a senior transfer from Oklahoma went 16-for-37 with 189 passing yards, and rarely seemed to be on the same page as his receivers.

Shafer acknowledged communication issues and his receivers' difficulty to create separation from the Penn State defense, and said he would be working on a game plan that fits his personnel and cleaning up the passing game

--Syracuse also struggled to run the ball effectively, earning only 71 total yards on the ground, while senior running back Prince-Tyson Gulley only netted 27 yards on 12 carries. Shafer praised the Penn State interior linemen for penetrating his own offensive line, which he said needs to work on finishing blocks.

--One bright side for the Orange after Saturday's loss was the four turnovers—two fumbles and two interceptions—the team forced against Penn State. Defensive end Rob Welsh picked off Penn State's true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg for a touchdown after the rookie misread a zone blitz. Shafer was pleased with the way his defense played, but insisted his team on whole would need to work in unison to beat the Wildcats.

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