Syracuse offensive coordinator Tim Lester is approaching the first game utilizing his offense at the major division one level. Throughout training camp, the team has worked on finalizing their implementation and mastering the playbook.
Lester says he has been happy with their execution, but the team itching to face someone other than their own defense. They will get that chance Friday night, when Rhode Island comes to the Carrier Dome for the season opener.
One of the bigger surprises on his side of the ball has been the emergence of Seamus Shanley. The walk-on offensive lineman who earned the starting spot at right guard over talented redshirt freshman Aaron Roberts.
”You go to the numbers,” Lester said. “We grade them everyday after practice. They’re right there on the board. Just like in the quarterback room, every time you walk in, the grades are there. You know who, after one week after two weeks, who are the best five percentage guys. Who’s getting the job done. Seamus was higher and we made that change.
”Aaron’s really come on and had a couple really good days. It’s great to have because both of their grades are pretty good. For us, it’s the same way as in the quarterbacks room. Whoever has the highest percentage plays.”
With the team seemingly ready to start the 2015 campaign and unveil Lester’s offense, the message is clear. Effort and execution.
”I want them to come out and play hard,” Lester said. “If they’re clicking on the first drive, great. If it takes the third, fourth or fifth drive or the second quarter to click. It’s hard to have it happen immediately. To say from beginning to end we’re going to go out without a hitch, that’s not realistic.
”We start out really well and then we struggle, that will be a good thing for me. I want to see get up and keep going so we don’t get in a lull.”
In fact, even if Syracuse gets a big lead against Rhode Island Friday night, Lester does not want to see any drop off in how hard they play or how efficient they are on offense.
”For us, we can never look at the scoreboard,” Lester said. “If we score five touchdowns in the fourth quarter or five touchdowns in the first quarter, it doesn’t really matter for us. I just want to see a consistent effort and not lose focus and not lose discipline and not shoot ourselves in the foot. First game, different atmosphere, I’m sure there will be some of that. But, we’re going to take each play. On offense, we just talk about the next play.
”I say next play all the time out there. When something goes bad, I’m screaming next play. If we just scored a touchdown, I’m screaming next play because the last one doesn’t matter. That’s the mentality that we need to have. Depending on how it starts out, good or bad, I want to see that kind of attack. Even if, no matter who’s in there. If the twos go in, I want the same kind of mentality.”