Football

Syracuse spends extended time in practice keying on Georgia Tech’s option

Sam Maller | Asst. Photo Editor

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer has devoted extra time to prepare for Georgia Tech's option.

Before the season, more than a month before Syracuse’s Atlantic Coast Conference debut and even longer before SU would face Georgia Tech, Scott Shafer had no reservations about his team’s need to prepare for the Yellow Jackets’ signature option.

“Ever since the summer, even during two-a-days, we’d say, ‘OK, Georgia Tech. Here we go,'” the head coach said during his weekly interview on Orange All-Access on Monday.

Shafer said the Orange carved out some time to prepare for GT’s option during Sunday practices throughout the year, and hasn’t been shy about acknowledging why.

He’s never tried to mask the preparation as anything but a primer for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets aren’t the toughest team on SU’s schedule, but their offense is the most unique.

“They’re going to force the defense to get eight to nine guys up there to stop this great option football that they know how to run better than anyone I’ve seen on tape,” Shafer said.

In some ways, though, GT’s offense plays into Syracuse’s defensive strengths. The Orange’s secondary has struggled all season — until Saturday’s 24-10 win against North Carolina State — but the run defense ranks second in the conference behind only Virginia Tech’s.

SU was again strong in that facet against the Wolfpack — no NC State rusher topped 60 yards. Syracuse’s defense also was strong in the passing game, but has been susceptible to big plays. Georgia Tech has thrown the ball more this year than it has in the past, but those big shots are still rare.

“There are some indicators that can give you a run-pass key,” Shafer said, “but it’ll be a difficult task for those kids on the back end.”

The Orange also faces the potential prospect of playing without Dyshawn Davis. The linebacker missed the second half of SU’s win against

North Carolina State after spraining his right ankle, but Shafer said Saturday that he didn’t expect it to be serious. He didn’t have an update on Davis’ status on Monday, but said he has been undergoing treatment.

Davis was walking around campus with a boot on his right foot and a noticeable limp on Monday.

“It’ll be a challenge,” Shafer said of the Yellow Jackets, “but that’s why we coach and that’s why we play, so we look forward to it.”

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