Syracuse football is losing nearly all of its defensive starters, is trying to work back in players who were injured last season and is attempting to replace its best offensive lineman. Despite all of that, the biggest transition for the Orange entering the 2015 season is a new offensive system.
Head coach Scott Shafer told CuseNation.com during an extensive one-on-one interview that they have about 80% of Lester’s offense installed after spring football. He believes the players, as well as the coaches, are excited about the change.
”The kids have responded extremely well,” Shafer said. “I think they’re excited about some of the things that we’ve done. The system, it’s easy. It’s hard to defend in my opinion. We haven’t run a lot of the things in media access practices for all the right reasons. To keep that tactical advantage there.
”Some of the things that they’re doing, I think the kids are really excited about the multiplicity where we can move people. Some of the different people behind the x’s and o’s get to do some of the same things by changing where they line up. They’re excited about it and so are we.”
One of the biggest changes between McDonald’s and Lester’s offense is the ability to confuse defenses with complex looks but simple assignments that are similar or the same regardless of the formation.
This concepts based approach is one that coach Shafer believes is often discusses, but rarely put into place. With Lester’s offense, it truly is about concepts.
That approach allows players to feel more comfortable with their role, their assignment on a given play and, in theory, will limit mistakes from the offense while creating more for the defense. The thing I like about Tim’s offense, everybody talks about being concept based, but a lot of coaches aren’t,” Shafer said. “They say they are. I don’t know if it’s en vogue to say that word. Tim’s as good as I’ve been around at doing the same thing with different formations, different alignments and different people. It makes the offense seem more complicated than it is from a defensive perspective. But for the kids, they understand the concept. Now it’s just if I’m in here I’m doing this. If I’m out here I’m doing this. So you can move a guy like Erv Philips around and create mismatch problems and all he has to know is the concept.
”If I’m inside I’m doing this. If I’m outside I’m doing this. If I’m backside I’m doing this. That’s what I like about the offense. You can go into a game and bring all your concepts. You may have practiced 40 percent of your offensive run game against one certain defense and they throw a different defense out. All you have to do is change your formation and go back to the same concept. Like for the offensive line, there’s not a lot of change. But for everybody else there is. From a pre-snap look for the defense, it’ll be totally different.”