Quote Book: Syracuse vs. Florida State

Post-game quotes from Syracuse players and coaches after their 38-20 loss to Florida State.

Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer

Opening Statement:
“First off, congratulations Florida State. For our kids to beat the No. 1 team in the country is a difficult task, but I really believed that we could beat this team and we didn’t get that done today. I saw some good things that were encouraging, but we need to do a good job of understanding just how important it is that when we have opportunities, we have to make them. We had a couple of dropped interceptions today and I always tell the kids that interceptions can change games and pass breakups give the opponent another opportunity and that’s what happened on a couple of those today. We have to learn how to finish those opportunities.

“I thought that there was some very good growth. I’m very proud of and very pleased with my offensive staff and the way they worked together to come up with a very good game plan against one of the best teams in the country, obviously No. 1 right now. I was extremely pleased with the way they worked at it and the way the kids went about the approach together, unselfishly together, as a team, as a unit. There were some very encouraging things out there. So we look forward to taking the encouraging traits from this game into the Wake Forest game. Understanding we have a tall task in front of us with a very good defense at Wake and an excellent offensive mind in Coach Clawson.”

On true freshman quarterback A.J. Long:
“I thought both Austin (Wilson) and AJ (Long) did some good things for their first extended playing time. AJ was just the way I thought he would be. He really loves to play the game, he’s really a fun kid to be around out there. There’s never a sense that he’s tightening up or anything so I was really encouraged by the way he played. Did he make mistakes? Yes. But all-in-all, the opportunity to be baptized by fire against No. 1 in the country I thought the kid did a pretty darn good job.”

On quarterback Austin Wilson’s injury and wide receiver Steve Ishmael’s play:
“Don’t have an update on Austin other than I can tell you I just sat with him a couple minutes, sat with his mom and dad and they’re going to take him over and check him out really well. We’ll see how things are later. He took a lick there, you guys saw it. Hearts and prayers out to him but he’ll be okay. He’ll bounce back. He’s a tough kid from Pennsylvania. First time I ever met him he had a black eye from a scrap he got into on the basketball court. So he’ll be alright, he’ll be okay. Thanks for asking.

“Steve Ishmael, we’re starting to see some things out of him that we saw out of him when we saw him in the recruiting process. I remember when Coach McDonald came to me and told me about him, I was really excited that we turned on the tape. It’s one of those things, the things we saw on tape we’re starting to see every week. He’s starting to play with a little more confidence. He’s starting to learn how to get off press coverage which isn’t easy when you move up to this level. So I’ve been very pleased with him. I’m very pleased with a lot of these freshmen that are helping out the old guys.

“The other thing I was extremely impressed with was the way our older kids took these younger quarterbacks under their wing and just said go out there and play. I’m really proud of that. It’s one thing to talk about it but to see it happen throughout the course of the game when something didn’t go well and to see those big guys put their arms around them and encourage them up, that was good. So we got to coach them up and got to go get that victory at Wake Forest.”

On the SU offense in the red zone and the difficulty it’s had finding the end zone:
“Same thing I told you last week, we haven’t put the ball over the goal line enough. I have a ton of them (specifics) but we have to catch the ball better when the ball hits us in the hands. We have to put the ball out in front of us, it’s finishing the execution. You can go down to each and every one of those plays whether it’s a run or a pass play and say this wasn’t good enough. You can’t do that because it’s not any one specific thing. If it were you’d point that out to me from a statistical analysis. At the end of the day we haven’t gotten across the goal line well enough and we have to fight our butts off to do a better job of that every week.”

On what Syracuse proved today despite the loss:
“We came up short, we lost the game. We go out to win every week to win a game. I like the way we fought and all that but I’m really not all that into those type of victories, those moral victories. Moral victories don’t count at the end of the season. At the end of the season it’s a win or a loss. We didn’t get it done. We came up short, that’s on me and we have to find a way to get it done next week.”

On if Austin Wilson’s injury is a concussion…
“He has an upper body injury.”

On how Tim Lester did in his first game as Offensive Coordinator:
“Tim and the offensive staff did a great job as I already mentioned. United, like I knew they would. Unselfishly, like I knew they would. I’ve known these guys for years and they came together and they worked their tails off to come up with a great game plan and I thought they did have a really great game plan and I thought the tempo was good and I thought as an offensive staff, getting their players to play for the first time with a couple of those young kids with some older guys that have been around. I thought they did a very good job at that. Obviously we didn’t score enough points in the red zone.”

On the running game and how Long’s ability to run contributed to it:
“I thought Tyson Gulley ran the ball well. I haven’t seen a stats sheet but I thought he ran the ball well. I thought our kids up front blocked well and had some good push and some good movement. We had some opportunities to have some even bigger gashes up in there where I saw us knock the No. 1 team in the country back extremely well. There wasn’t one point-and-time in the game that I felt like their front four got after us in a systemic way. I felt like our kids continued to really fight physically on both sides of the football. I see 83 yards for Tyson Gulley, our 162 rushing yards, so that’s a pretty good day and I think AJ (Long) brought some things to the table, as well with his ability to move his feet.”

On how the positives of this game carry over into next week and the next game:
“You always take the positives and you accentuate those and you go to work on them. It’s hard as a coach and a competitive person, as a player, for our kids to feel good about it. You don’t feel good about it when you lose. You feel horrible. Once we get to the tape and get through a Sunday meeting where we’re all beating ourselves up then you move forward and say, “You know what? This is good, this is pretty good, this is pretty good.” Then you go after those things hard and make them better the next week.”

On staying even in scoring with Florida State in the second half, 14-14:
“There were a few wrinkles. I thought the offense made a couple little adjustments that were good. More than anything, we stayed with what we thought we could do. They did, they continued, the consistency level got better. In the second half there were a couple of situations where I thought we were a block away from a bigger run. So it was good to see that. It was really just staying true to what we thought we could do and it was proven to be the case in a lot of those game plan type, schematic things that we looked at. Defensively they got us on a couple of really athletic plays, on the jailbreak screen. That kid, is a good player, heck of an athlete. I thought we were going to get him here and we were going to get him there and good players, just like their quarterback, we had some good stuff. I thought (defensive coordinator) Coach (Chuck) Bullough had some really good calls and the kids were coming through clean and free. That quarterback does a nice job making plays go a little bit longer than you’re used to. They make it hard on those kids on the back end. We’re going to take the positives, build from them, and put together a great plan for Wake Forest.”

On rating this offensive performance amongst previous games:
“I really can’t do that. I have to go watch the film. The only rating that we’re looking for is increased productivity and improvement which you can truly measure. Whether it’s maintaining blocks or being in tempo with our throws, sometimes there are incomplete passes that you can say that was better, we were in rhythm. All we’re going to try to do is get a little bit better in each of those small targeted points that we look at each week from individuals to positional groups, and obviously offense and defense and kicking.”

On SU’s development on the defensive front throughout the year and the pressure in the backfield, particularly Micah Robinson:
“I thought the same thing, there was some pretty good puncturing going on by our kids. When we lost (defensive tackle) Jason Bromley last year (New York Giants draft selection) there was some great concern there but I think those kids as a unit played real well and that they fought to learn how to play the game the way (defensive line) Coach (Time) Daoust asked them to. I saw some good things out of Micah (Robinson) too. I have the worst seat in the house to see offense and defensive line play until you watch it after the game but I saw some good things and I love the way Micah (Robinson) competes. He kind of is a leader in that room. When (defensive tackle Eric) Crume was out, we asked those other tackles, John Raymon, to get more reps and I know John was playing high at times but then I saw some good puncturing there with him. So it just goes back to what we always talk about, that next teammate stepping up to the plate and saying we’re counting on you.

“Nobody cares you had a dozen injuries going into this game. Nobody cares about that so we have to move forward and find the next guy to step up and bring the team along. That’s what our kids have done a good job of. It’s never as good as we want it to be but I do like the way we’re fighting. Guys like Micah Robinson pulling guys along by the way he talks to them in the room and in the locker room so I’ve been pleased with the brotherhood of some of those things and that showed up on tape at times today. I thought we played at times up front nose-to-nose with them. They got a couple runs, a couple missed tackles. The better teams, the better athletes you play, you always have a few more missed tackles and hats off to those kids at Florida State and that ability level that they have and their coaches do a great job with them.”

Sean Hickey,Senior, Offensive Tackle

On today’s game:
“When we get around the six-, seven-yard line – it gets to that awkward yard-line. Are we going to run or throw or bring in the heavy formation? As a player it can get awkward. We just have to execute better in the red zone.

“I think we moved the ball very well today. We had close to 400 yards on offense – that was good. It’s just disappointing because we had three opportunities in the red zone and came up short.”

Adonis Ameen-Moore, Senior, Running Back

On today’s game:
“I think we went out and played hard. We had a little something to us that we wanted to prove to them, especially going down there last year and the things that happened. We wanted to show them that we can play football.”

On A J Long’s play:
“I’m happy. A.J. came in there and did his thing. As a running back playing next to a true freshman, he did great. I was a true freshman and know what it’s like. I think going forward we’re going to be happy with the positives and build on the negatives.”

Julian Whigham, Junior, Cornerback

On playing against the physical toughness of Florida State:
“They are a great team. You can put them up against anyone.”

On ranking Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston against the other QB’s he has competed against:
“Right up there at the top.”

On his conversation with Coach Shafer about his technique mistakes:
“He was going over what part of technique we needed to focus on. We were going over it and corrected it.”

On improvements needed for next week’s game against Wake Forest:
“You have to gather up all the positives and correct the negatives after the mistakes are made. We just have to get better for next week’s game against Wake Forest.”

Steve Ishmael, Freshman, Wide Receiver

On his first two career touchdowns against a top-ranked team:
“It was a blessing because it was against Florida State. I really wanted to come here to show my talents and show that Syracuse is on a rise.”

On his connection made with Syracuse quarterback A.J. Long:
“It was an amazing connection and we are just going to continue keep building from here on out. We are going to plan on getting extra work in.”

On Syracuse quarterback A.J. Long’s connection with the wide receivers:
“The connection makes it a lot easier. I feel like the league is turning into a dual-threat quarterback league. We did something similar by him just extending my time and helping me get up in my routes. That was a huge benefit for our team.”

On his improvement on press coverage:
“Extra work. Staying in late nights and doing a lot of drills and working by myself helped me a lot.”

On playing against a highly-ranked team:
“Coach Shafer preached that we had nothing to lose and we should just have fun. He told us to go ahead and do what you do best and that’s what we did. We had a clear chance at beating this team but we are just moving on to the second half of the season and worrying about Wake Forest and going to a bowl game.”

A.J. Long, Freshman, Quarterback

On playing in his first game:
“It was an awesome experience and one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. You couldn’t write a script any better for a true freshman that everybody thought runs his mouth before, to come out and play the No. 1 team in the country and play a decent game.”

On his chemistry with Steve Ishmael:
“Most of the time we go up against each other versus the first team defense on scout team. Then we really built it. You put that ball within a two-, three-feet radius of that man, he is going to catch it. Doesn’t matter if its one-handed, two-handed, he could catch it with his eyes closed. He is just a great receiver and I’m blessed to be able to throw the ball to him.”

On what the team learned today:
“I wouldn’t say it’s anything that we learned because it’s stuff that we’ve known. We know that we are a good team on the verge of being a great team as far as our offense goes. The defense has always been phenomenal. So, basically, this week is just getting comfortable with each other and realizing that we can play with anybody in the country when we come to the game and we have nothing to lose. Every week, it could be your last game ever so really just coming out playing as hard as you can, as long as you can, and repeatedly doing that week in and week out.”

On what was different about this week:
“We played loose because everybody just realized that this team is never going to be together again. So everybody is doing the most that they can do for their brother next to them to make sure that they have the best season possible because at the end of the day, these are the only moments you’re ever really going to have with these guys on the football field.”

Prince-Tyson Gulley, Graduate Student, Running Back

On the offense today:
“I feel like we got the running backs going really early and everything was just starting to fall in place and our receivers were making god plays. Both quarterbacks did great and everything was good today.”

On how A.J.’s running affected the running backs:
“It always helps, even when Terrel (Hunt) was with us, it always makes it easier for us because now the defense has to worry about two runners and it made it very easy for us.”

On looking forward:
“We know that we can be a great team, and we just have to keep going after it, when we get in practice and everything. We just got to keep it up.”

Tim Lester, Offensive Coordinator

On the expectations of Austin Wilson and A.J. Long:
“I wanted to start Wilson just because he’s played and had a little bit more experience so to speak, and then definitely get A.J. in, because A.J. can do some things with his feet that really help us – depending on where we were at in the game, what kind of plays we wanted to run, what kind of run plays we wanted to run. A.J. can run a different set than Austin can, but Austin can really throw the ball well. I got them both in, I wanted to get them both comfortable to the point where no matter what happens moving forward. They each got enough game time, unless one got really hot. A.J. got hot for a little bit so I kept him in for three or four in a row, and then he cooled off so I wanted to get the other guy back in, really just for the future. I don’t know what the score was at the time, but it was a point where we were going to have to drop back and throw it a little bit, and he does a good job with that. It went about how I wanted it to.”

On his overall assessment on A.J. Long:
“He did well. Like I said, the one interception he said he was trying to throw it away, he’s got to get it out of bounds. The other one his arm got hit – he was going to the right spot. The guy made a great play tipping the ball, and ended up throwing it straight up in the air pretty much, but other than that his decision making was good. He missed a couple throws, one in the red zone on a flat route which he’s eating himself up over. He made some good reads, good throws, he did well in the running game. Believe it or not a guy like him that is a very talented runner, a lot of times those guys pull the ball just because they want to run it, and they made us give it all day, he gave it all day. I ended up doing a different play at the end to get him to pull one, and he pulled it and did a good job. I was really thinking he was going to pull one just because he wants to, but he gave it all day and did a good job in the run game, which is a big part because he adds a dynamic to the run game.”

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