His team may not be facing a tough Big Ten opponent to open the season like in previous years. But by Scott Shafer's tone during his Saturday morning press conference, you couldn't tell.
"We're going to have our hands full," Shafer said on the Villanova Wildcats, Syracuse's FCS opponent on Aug. 29. There was everything you would expect to hear from Shafer -- some intensity, some hyperbole, some coach speak and even a "damn right" thrown in just for good measure.
He called VU the best FCS opponent to play in the Carrier Dome in a long time and predicted a series of fakes, trick plays and unbalanced formations from the fast-paced Wildcats.
Here are some other key takeaways:
Robinson Ruled Out
Syracuse right guard Nick Robinson won't play against Villanova, according to Shafer. Robinson sprained his foot in practice a few weeks ago and has been wearing a protective boot.
"It’s not a serious injury, but it’s a nagging injury,' Shafer said. "You can’t play offensive line without having power through that foot."
SU gets a bye week after facing the Wildcats so Robinson will have an additional week to recover. Shafer was optimistic that he could be ready for Sept. 13, when Syracuse plays at Central Michigan. Robinson started every game for the Orange last season.
"Rather than trying to push him through the pain to get him ready for this game, we’re going to keep him in that boot and keep the treatments on the high side and try to get him healthy for the rest of the season," Shafer said. "I don’t think he’d be ready to play by Friday night, anyway."
On a positive note, Brisly Estime and Eric Crume will play. Both are recovering from minor injuries.
Edouard's Status Unknown
As Alin Edouard stays in Miami to deal with undisclosed family issues, his status for the upcoming season is becoming unclear. Just a few days ago, Shafer guaranteed that the freshman quarterback would return for the start of the fall semester. But Shafer backed off from his assurance on Saturday and, in doing so, hinted at the possibility that Edouard may not be back for several months.
"When the situation is such that he says ‘I can get back’, we’ll bring him back," Shafer said. "If that’s tomorrow, great. If that’s during the winter, great. Either way, he’s my guy and we’re sticking by him."
The first day of the semester is Monday. The last day to add a class is Sept. 2. Shafer says he'll be aware of the academic deadlines and will support Edouard and his family throughout the process.
"His hand of cards that he's been dealt as a youngster is so far different than anything probably you or I experienced," Shafer said. "He's fighting his butt off to get things right at home and I can't wait to get him back, whenever that is."
Second Stringers Sorted Out by Tuesday
Shafer will solidify the depth chart over the next few days. He wants to have the top two spots in every position in place by the middle of the week.
"We got a lot of battles still being played out, which is great," he said. "Any time you have a tough decision because you like him and you like him and you fight over it, that’s a good thing."