Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer took part in Wednesday's weekly Atlantic Coast Conference teleconference. Here are the three most interesting things he said:
1. Relationship with Narduzzi
Shafer and Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi will be on opposite sidelines Saturday, but they've shared the same one before. The two coached together at Rhode Island from 1993-95 and Northern Illinois from 2000-02.
"I'm indebted to Pat and all the hard work he put in to not only just being a great coach with me, but also influencing the way I looked at the game," Shafer said.
In terms of how he was influenced, Shafer said they would "talk about everything." Since Shafer was the defensive backs coach at Rhode Island and Narduzzi was the linebackers coach, they would share their point of views on things from those positions with each other. They'd then "banter back and forth" and use that information to figure out the best thing to do.
2. Defending screen passes
Syracuse's defense has been exploited for a lot of weaknesses this season, and one of the most glaring has been its inability to defend screen passes. Opposing offenses have had great success running those plays, especially running back screens.
Shafer said the main problem is that SU has been unable to "leverage the football."
"If you can't make the tackle, you got to push it back inside so the guys running to the football can knock it down," he said.
So far this season, the Orange haven't done that. And on top of it, when they have had chances to stop screens, they've missed a number of tackles.
3. Dunge in five-man protections
Shafer said SU quarterback Eric Dungey is "fully capable" of making the right reads in empty protections. Without a running back or linebacker blocking in those five-man protections, it leaves Dungey vulnerable to a sixth pass rusher. That makes it imperative that he gets the ball out quickly and to the right receiver.
And while Shafer said Dungey is able to make those reads, SU offensive coordinator Tim Lester told Syracuse.com's Stephen Bailey that Dungey took a number of hits from that sixth blitzer.
"I think there were one or two times when we actually got beat up front (against UVA), but other times it's like, 'Hey Eric, that's the guy we can't block.'"