Orange Watch: Dissecting ‘Shafe’ following his Syracuse college coaching debut

Shafer's club could use a W on Saturday

Item: Even following a sour-tasting, six point loss in a game in which his squad had a shot to win, there was a lot to like about Scott Shafer’s initial postgame reactions, coming from a man who wears his emotions not just on his sleeve, but on his entire body.

Let’s see now. His first postgame press conference included these three comments (in order) that drew some smiles and eye opening among the assorted media:

“Our defense played a tough ass football game.”

There was a lot to like about Shafer’s debut

“I like the hell out of the kid.” (Commenting on, and gazing over to QB Drew Allen standing near-by, on his first game performance vs. Penn State.)

» Related: Should SU continue to play at MetLife?

“I thought we were going to win the damn thing.” (When asked about his pregame thoughts about the opening game outcome.)

Covering the sitting SU football boss is fun again. Coach Shafer’s genuine and direct approach with a bit of humor mixed in is somewhat reminiscent of Dick MacPherson, who knew exactly which strings to pull when it came to dealing with media members, no matter their status.

The old adage starting center Mackey MacPherson’s grandfather, Coach Mac, used to preach after game one of every season he led on The Hill from 1981-90 was about the head coach always wanting to gauge the amount of improvement from his team between the first and second game, no matter the outcome of the season opener (Coach Mac went 6-4 in each season’s game number two).

How much was absorbed in the learning process after the first live competition?

» Related: What we learned from week 1

So right away it will be interesting to see what kind of hold the rookie SU coach has on his squad as they travel to Top 25 ranked and 1-0 Northwestern Sat. night (6:00 ET / Big Ten Network). Another tough Big Ten squad that has had the Orange’s number in recent years, including last season’s 42-41 loss in the Dome.

“The biggest lessons we learned (from the PSU loss) is keep fighting the good fight. You always have an opportunity to win a game if you keep fighting,” Shafer declared. “There were times kids could have hung their heads, they did not hang their heads.”

“Let’s take the positives, learn from the weaknesses, the mistakes that we made, and let’s not repeat the mistakes next week (at Northwestern).”

Sounds just like something Coach Mac might say.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.