Notebook: Defense seeks to improve in Shafer’s second season

first_imgNEWPORT, R.I. – Scott Shafer has his players hooked.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs Syracuse enters its second season with Shafer as defensive coordinator, players on his side of the ball have completely bought into the system.‘He definitely is one of those guys,’ SU linebacker Derrell Smith said. ‘When he gets in the huddle he demands respect, and he gets respect because we know his ability and what he is capable of doing.’Hopefully for the Orange, what Shafer is capable of doing is improving a defensive unit that returns nine starters from a year ago. Free safety Mike Holmes joined Smith in representing the SU defense at the Big East’s annual Media Day Tuesday at the Hotel Viking. Both shared an eagerness to return to action this fall as part of a group that was best in the league against the run, but is only now getting a firm grasp on Shafer’s philosophies.‘This year, we trust the system,’ Holmes said. ‘We trust it now as a whole. We have guys in position to make big-time plays.’Smith echoed that sentiment. Smith’s partner at the linebacker position will be senior Doug Hogue. Hogue, a converted running back, led the Big East with 1.33 tackles for loss per game. He was scheduled to represent the team at the Media Day event but cancelled at the last minute due to an academic commitment. But with Hogue next to him in Shafer’s second season, Smith can only imagine the possibilities that await the defensive unit.‘I just smile every time I think about it, because I think we have the potential to be a very good defense,’ he said. ‘Just to pick up from last year, I can’t wait.’ Comments Published on August 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13 Alone, and back for moreThe only one of his kind to appear at the event, Rob Long stood out. After all, he was the only player in the room that uses his feet.Syracuse’s punter was the only kicker to represent a team at Big East football media day Tuesday. And for good reason. Last season, the first-team All-Big East performer was named a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award that goes to the nation’s top punter.‘I think I have done a good job staying solid,’ he said. ‘I think I have had a pretty good first few years.’Those few years have felt a lot longer for Long’s opponents. At Monday’s clambake event, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano told Long it feels like he has been at SU forever. That could have something to do with last year’s matchup between the Orange and Scarlet Knights, in which Long averaged 59 yards per punt – good for 10th on Syracuse’s single-game record list.The unassuming senior was certainly not the media’s most popular interview at Tuesday’s event — Zach Collaros and Dion Lewis tied for that award — and that is just fine with him. Just as when he’s on the field, he keeps it simple.Said Long: ‘I’m just trying to do my job.’This and thatMarrone said that the team currently has filled 80 of the allotted 85 roster spots. … SU linebacker Doug Hogue was a late scratch from the event in order to attend a math class. … Louisville linebacker Brandon Heath said that the Cardinals defense thought Delone Carter was the hardest running back to tackle in the Big East last season. … Marrone said the most enjoyable part of his job so far has been the parking pass for SU basketball games. … The Big East remains committed to ESPN to televise football games. … Holmes acknowledged the high level of competition for spots in the secondary, comparing it to the linebacker situation heading into last summer. center_img [email protected] Asst. Sports Editor Tony Olivero contributed reporting to this story Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more