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Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer on Florida State

Quotes courtesy ACC

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
On the attitude of the team this week following losing its third straight:

"The team’s attitude has been good. They just put their helmets on and go to work. I think they’re excited to play maybe one of the best football teams in the last 10 years in Florida State. I’ve been pleased with the work ethic and the time coming up on their own too in preparation with the video. So they’re good and they’re looking forward to the next challenge."

On the added challenge of losing your quarterback before taking on the No. 1 team in the country:

"It’ll definitely be a big task, but we have three kids I believe in. We’re in that decision making process and have some good thoughts on how we want to approach this. But we’re going to keep that to ourselves as we head into this game. I feel good about the process and the approach and probably more importantly the kids."

On if Tim Lester would be the offensive coordinator beyond this season:

"Well, we’re going one game at a time right now. But I do have a ton of respect and confidence in Tim. He’s a talented offensive mind and I’m fortunate to have him here with me, that’s for sure."

On how different the offense will be under Tim as the offensive coordinator:

"You’ll find that out on Saturday."

On the talents of the three quarterbacks competing to start this week:

"I think Austin has a big arm, he’s done a nice job learning the offense and I know we feel comfortable that he has a good grasp of things. A.J. has competed extremely well against our No. 1 defense and he’s a very good athlete as you know, and he has improved upon his passing efficiency in his time here. Mitch Kimble is a young man with a lot of ability. He can throw it and run it. He’s a bright young man, does extremely well in school and I think all three of them give us some good choices as we head into this game."

On George McDonald and Tim Lester handling the switch of roles:

"The two of them are very close and they’re both men of high character that just want to win a game. They work well together and they’ve been great. They’ve been in that room pounding out adjustments and changes that we want to make moving forward. I know that they both have a ton of respect for one another."

On the procedure of evaluating player injuries during a game:

"Our policy is that if a young man goes down, our medical staff including Denny Kellington will rush out there and see what’s going on and try and diagnose the problem as quickly as possible and try to get some good intel. Then we’ll take him back off the field and continue to evaluate him as the play and game move forward. Then, basically I rely on their insights to tell me if a young man is ready to go."

On the possibility of quarterback Terrel Hunt having the injury prior to his last drive in the game:

"It’s always hard to tell, but initially they thought he got kicked in the shin hard and it was just a contusion or a bad bruise, but you never know until you move on it and what not. It isn’t until after the game that you can get the pictures to truly see what the problem is, but you never know if it was a combination of plays or just one particular play. It’s impossible to know so you move forward and you look to the doctors."

On what he heard from Terrel and the trainers after the first time he left the game:

"That’s how it started out [as a shin bruise]. Then Terrel got up and moved around on it and he felt like he was good to go and they felt like he was good to go and then a few plays later he got hit again and that’s obviously when we brought him out. Then we got him into the locker room after the game and did the pictures and that’s when they felt like there was definitely a fracture."

Do you think the second hit worsened the injury or do you think it was already there?

"We can’t tell you, like I said you never know if it’s one play or two plays. It’s hard to tell to be honest with you."

On the run game struggling against Louisville:

"I think we have to say to ourselves that we were playing the number one rush defense in the country in Louisville. They’re a well-coached team and there’s a reason why no one has had much success running the ball against them. Now as you move forward you look at what has been good and you look at where you want to go with the run game, put those pieces together and go back to work. That’s how we approach it each week and nothing changes this week."

On Florida State:

They’re still an unbelievable football team. Anytime you take on a team that’s that talented they’re going to present a problem, not only in the scheme but more than anything the talented number of players that they have. We’ve seen them in the past and we’re just looking forward to getting a little bit better each down we’re on the field and try to figure out where they are and adjust our scheme to what’s happening throughout the course of the game. Like I said, great challenge and we’re looking forward to it.

On if something changed from Friday through the weekend in regards to George McDonald:

"Nothing changed really, no different than when you’re making decisions on who to play and where to play them and how much. Any difficult decision that has to be made is going to be made in the best interests of the team, it’s really as simple as that. It’s my job to make those decisions and to move forward as quickly as possible and to come up with a good game plan for the next opponent. You make those decisions, you try to be quick and sharp with them and you try to make the product better."

On if George McDonald took responsibility for the offense’s struggles:

"Well obviously it’s a difficult situation, but yes, George is one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever met and one of the most diligent and hard-working coaches I’ve ever worked with. At the end of the day, I’m sure that there’s the natural frustration of making the change and having to listen to my decisions, but the thing that’s great about George is that he just put his head down and went to work. "On Sunday’s we have a walk-through type practice, we call it a run-through. We have some offense, some defense, some kicking and a little bit of individual work and true to the soldier that George is, he just put his head down and went to work and started coaching these kids and I’m really fortunate to have him on staff."

On the development of Wayne Williams:

"When Wayne first got here he was out of shape –he’ll be the first to admit that. But once he got here he went to work. Coach Hicks and our strength and conditioning staff did a great job of putting a plan together, not only with the workouts in regards to strength training, but also with the habits of eating and being smart with the diet and the discipline it takes to get yourself in shape to play at this level and Wayne did a nice job following the program. I can’t remember the number but he lost 40 or 50 lbs. When he got on the field for spring ball it was still a struggle but when he got on the field this summer, he had really elevated his ability to play and sustain a play longer. Now he’s really at the point where he’s really giving us some good reps on tape and he’s had the ability to play much longer, much harder and much more consistent. I’ve been extremely pleased with his work ethic and it’s great that Wayne has been able to find himself on the football field."

On the injuries:

"It’s kind of day-by-day with those guys. I can tell you that we’ll have a full report on Thursday. I can say that all of those young men are working diligently to try to get themselves ready to play football again. Today we have a practice and we’re starting to ease into some things and then we’re going to ramp up the rehab and try to get them some individual reps, but we’ll know more on Thursday."

On the confidence of Tim Lester stepping into the offensive coordinator position knowing that he worked with the quarterbacks all year long and Austin Wilson does have some game experience:

"I think those are all positives. I think the fact that Tim and coach McDonald work so well together and communicate so well between one another that we can hopefully create some flow. I think Tim working with the quarterbacks like he always has is helpful in knowing what a guy can and can’t do. So I think there are some advantages there."

Was the offensive coordinator switch something that had been being thought about all year:

"It’s all inclusive. Every decision you make is one that’s day-by-day and it wasn’t something that was preconceived a long time ago. It was something that I felt was best for our team by making the move."

Is there a psychological effect of not having one set guy in place at quarterback heading into a big game:

"Maybe. I don’t know that I can truly answer that. I’ve seen quarterbacks come off the bench who didn’t think they were going to play come in and play remarkable. I’ve seen guys who were well prepared come in and struggle once they got their first live opportunity in a game. That’s a reality of the game and the mindset of each young man. I think the key is to keep the game plan for each who may have an oppprtunity play clean and not overwhelming, so they can get a feel for what it’s like to play in a college football game. I know Austin has had some limited repetitions in that front, while the other two it’ll be completely new to them. The thing I tell them is to just go play. Go play football, play as hard as you can for as long as you can and don’t worry. Just go with the plan and play the game you love so much and that’ll be the approach we take."

Why did you think now was the right time to make the offensive coordinator switch:

"It’s as simple as this for me: When I have to make a tough decision, I want to look at it from all angles, make it as quickly as possible and do it for the best interests of the team. It’s as simple as that for me."

Was there anyone else involved in the offensive coordinator decision:

"The decision was solely mine and I own it."

On taking on Florida State at home:

"I think they’re excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity to play the number one football team in the nation. Like I said earlier I think you can make the argument that this is one of the best teams in the last decade. They’re excited and they’re anxious to prepare for that game and it’s something you’ve always dreamed about as a young man, getting the opportunity to go against the best in your business, both as a player and coach alike, so we’re very enthusiastic and ready to go.