When Scott Shafer was planning this weekend's Spring Game, one he predicts will be "creative", it brought back memories from a similar points-based scrimmage when he was a defensive coach. Four points for a sack. Three for a tackle for loss.
The defense won that one – 84-13.
"I looked back at that and I said, aww hell no," Shafer said. "We’re not using that system."
As someone who now coaches both the defensive and offensive teams, Shafer realized that it wouldn't work fairly. Instead, the defense will score six points for interceptions, three for three-and-outs and one for a defensive stop. Because of the team's recent injuries, Shafer said Syracuse won't be able to field two complete offensive lines. As a result, the Orange will play for points rather than play a regularly scored game.
"I think it’ll be fun," Shafer said. "We’re a little banged up with the offensive line, but getting some guys back. I think it will be a good scrimmage. We’ll be creative with some things that we do to make sure we get everyone involved."
The Orange will warm up with some 7-on-7 time before the scrimmage begins. At halftime, there will be a punting challenge where Riley Dixon will try to pin punts within the 15-yard line.
Got all that?
It may not be the most conventional method. But Shafer asserted that Syracuse will always have some form of a Spring Game because it's an event tailored for the fans rather than the team. It gives fans a chance to preview some of the players they have heard about, but haven't seen.
"Even if it’s more of a scrimmage like it will be this year, at least it’s another opportunity for the fans to come out and check things out," he said. "We owe that to our fans. I really love our fans here in Syracuse. I just think they deserve that."
It's also another opportunity for younger QBs Mitch Kimble and A.J. Long to play in more of a pressure situation than practice. Kimble missed the beginning of spring because of a back injury, but has played well of late.
"I’m looking forward to it," Shafer said. "I can’t wait to get the community out there. I know the kids are ready to play in front of some people. It should be a great day."
Quips, Quotes and Anecdotes:
-Safety Ritchy Desir had another interception on Tuesday. He's capitalized on his opportunity for playing time, with Durell Eskridge out with finger and hip injuries.
-Shafer didn't have an update on Ivan Foy's return. The starting right tackle was suspended in March for academic issues. The semester will be ending in about two weeks.
-In other offensive line news, John Miller looks to be the go-to guy at center for the Orange. Syracuse likely won't announce its starting center until mid-August, but Miller will have a prominent role on Saturday.
-In one of the most important developments of the day, Shafer announced that he will not bring his dog to the game, opting against the Bo Pelini model. Said Shafer, "My dog Lilly is one of my best friends, but she’ll stay at home."
-It's looking less like Shafer will be wearing a live microphone throughout the day, as initially indicated. Instead, he will speak at the beginning of the event to welcome the crowd and explain the proceedings. "I’m not good with the mic on," he said. "I have to watch what I’m saying. It’s not a strength. If I’m (covering my mouth), it’s not because I’m hiding a play. I’ve learned the hard way on that one."