One look at Syracuse coach Scott Shafer’s résumé, and it’s hard not to label him as “a defensive guy.”
Before taking over this year as the head coach, Shafer spent eight straight seasons as a defensive coordinator. He led the Orange defense for four years. He was a defensive coordinator at Michigan. He was a defensive coordinator at Stanford. And he was a defensive coordinator at Western Michigan. Go all the way back to 1993, his first real job out of college, and Shafer has spent his entire career with defense.
And now he has to name a starting quarterback.
No problem. Shafer was a quarterback.
“I actually thought my job was going to be a quarterbacks coach in my career,” said Shafer, a quarterback at Baldwin-Wallace from 1986-90. “Halfway through my first job, I got a phone call from a head coach, Floyd Keith at Rhode Island, whom I was a graduate assistant for, and he said … ‘Do you think you could coach another position?’ I said, ‘Heck, yeah.’ I just wanted to get a paycheck. I ended up on defense in the secondary.
“But I played quarterback, coached quarterbacks when I was a GA, and I’ve watched the quarterbacks for all these years. I’m going to try not to get in the way of Coach [George] McDonald and Coach [Tim] Lester, but I do look forward to having a hand in developing those kids, especially from a mental approach.”
One of Syracuse’s main storylines when it starts spring practices next week will be the quarterback competition. While Shafer has spent the past four seasons watching the Orange defense, his attention now will shift to finding a replacement for record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib. Backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt are the top candidates.
“We have three guys we’re excited to get on the field and get them competing against one another,” Shafer said. “… All three of them bring attributes that excite you as a coach. Now the three of them get to go compete against one another and we’re going to try to balance out the repetitions so those guys get a fair shot to truly compete against each other.”
And the former Syracuse defensive coordinator will be watching, this time from a different view.