In his Big East Stock Report column today column, ESPN's Brian Bennett singled out a collection of Big East assistant coaches who deserve some huzzah and kudos for the work they've done so far. Among them he lists:
Bob Diaco, Cincinnati DC
Frank Cignetti, Pittsburgh OC
Jeff Mullen, West Virginia OC
Not mentioned on that list is Syracuse defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. For sure, Diaco had to deal with the loss of 10 seniors and a new scheme, no small task. But he's also got one of the most high-octane offenses in the nation helping him out. What about the guy who's transformed the entire identity of a defense without that benefit?
A look under the hood, perhaps. Let's take the Greg Robinson-led defense from a year ago and compare it to what we've seen from Shafer's group this year, keeping in mind that the Orange returned most of their defensive stars AND it's top player, Arthur Jones, isn't even putting up stats close to what he did last season.
Syracuse Defense Rankings 2008 vs 2009 (through seven games)
|Statistic||2008 Defense||2009 Defense|
|Tackles For Loss||106th||49th|
|Opp. 3rd Down Conv.||117th||38th|
Shafer doesn't just deserve recognition. He deserves a goddamn Medal of Valor.
In all but every category (Pass D), Shafer's D is better than Greggers. (For the record, Greggers Michigan D is currently 72nd overall). In many cases by leaps and bounds. And for the most part, we're talking about the same guys. Maybe a little older, a little wiser, but it's not as if they became better athletes overnight (evident by the poor Pass D which is a talent-issue much more than a scheme-issue).
Not that Shafer would appreciate this kind of comparison to begin with. He's the guy who once said ""Stats are for losers" so we'll just keep this between us. I've said in a few interviews that I think while Marrone is the heart and soul we needed at head coach, Shafer was the steal of the coaching staff hirings.
He worked magic at Western Michigan. He went to Stanford for a year and showed even more potential, so much that he was recruited to take over the Michigan defense. I think it's obvious that Shafer's failed year at Michigan was more about RichRod than Shafer, Scott just took the fall. Remember, this was a guy on the fast track to a head coaching gig before that. He's putting himself back on it just as quickly.
If he keeps this up, Syracuse will be lucky to have him on the staff for beyond 2010. He's flying under the radar for the time being. I assure you that will change soon.
H/T: CFBStats & ryanwk628