The Morning After: Shannon Speaks

"I watched (film of the game)– there are some things we have to improve on as a football team," Shannon said. "I'll start with special teams. Our strength was kickoff return. (Graig) Cooper did a nice job of returning with some key blocks from those guys. Our punt team did a nice job also with (Matt) Bosher hanging the football up. The kickoff team is the one I was concerned with. We have to get somebody to take the load off Bosher. Last night Bosher's hangtime wasn't very good. He was kicking it down to the 10 and they were getting big returns. By the time they were catching at the 10 we were getting to the 40. We started squibbing it, pooch-kicking it, but his pooch kick wasn't even on yesterday. Usually he's pooching to the 20; he was pooching it to the 40, which was off for him. Those things we have to work on special teams-wise. It didn't pan out the way we wanted to.


"Offensively I thought we did a lot of great things. We spread the ball around, which was huge. We've got go-to guys. We're using our personnel. The offensive line did a phenomenal job protecting Jacory (Harris) and in the run game, running the football when we needed to. Those things were vital in the success we had. The first half two things that got me – when we were on the 30 going in and got a holding call, that killed that drive. We had another opportunity when we had LaRon Byrd on a chop block. That killed that drive. We can't afford to get those penalties because that gets you out of field goal range and makes it difficult as an offense to respond.

"Defensively when we needed to play we played. The first half we couldn't get off the field on third down. There were a bunch of guys out there, especially in the secondary, that weren't communicating. We had the checks in, guys lose focus in the heat of the situation. We calmed them down, in the second half did a lot of great things, made some plays. But we still have to get off the field on third down. That was the one major factor we didn't do on defense, get off the field on third downs. But we had a great goal line stand, which shows you where we're at last year to now. North Carolina last year, Florida State, games like that when we had chances and didn't capitalize - the defense finished it off with a great goal line stand. That gets the players to understand how important it is that we keep working to get better each week and not rely on what we did in the past."

In injury news, Shannon said, "Always in a game like this you have groins and shoulders. I don't know if we had any real serious ones. (Demarcus) Van Dyke was out early and didn't come back. He got banged up but should be fine. Nothing real serious for right now, no major things."

Shannon said Harris is fine.

"Don't make a big deal out of it," Shannon said. "He got his funny bone hit. That's all he got hit. A shock, that was it."

Asked if Vaughn Telemaque and Ryan Hill could be back to give a boost to the secondary against Georgia Tech, Shannon said, "Two days before (the FSU game) Telemaque and Ryan banged up their shoulders. It was a tough situation for us, a nervous situation, because we lost two secondary guys and two great special teams guys. Both were on kickoff, and both would have been playing in the secondary.

"Talking to the doctors, they said if we can rest them, not play them in this game, there's a chance they should be back for Georgia Tech because we have 10 days. We'll know more as time goes on."

Here's what else Shannon was talking about:

Q: Does this win mean the Canes are back?

Shannon: It's one win. Coming up is Georgia Tech, which (is part of) a tough stretch for us. This becomes NFL season. You have to do certain things. You can't wear them out in practice, have to make sure guys are healthy. Are we back as far as beating Florida State? Yes. And winning the first game, which is good for us. We're still a young football team, but we have some veterans stepping up to carry the load for us. We're back in that instance.

Q: Given Jacory Harris had an arm issue, were you surprised he was able to throw the deep ball to Travis Benjamin?

Shannon: He got his funny bone hit on his elbow. He shocked himself. You can't change the offense when a guy is ready to go. As long as he was able to throw the ball on the sidelines we felt like he could throw the ball. It was a great throw and great catch, and you have to give coach (Aubrey) Hill credit for that – he works before practice, before games, of guys getting feet in-bounds, just throwing the tough catches on the sideline. And it worked. Travis got one foot in; it was a huge catch down to the three. Nobody expected that throw to be made, and the offensive line protected it well. Jacory just stepped up and let it go. That was huge for us.

Q: How critical was first down success? Coach Mark Whipple was really attacking on first down.

Shannon: That was huge. We felt we could run the ball, throw it, we just had to be patient, take what they give you. They're going to make plays, but you can't abandon what you're doing. We're running the ball, they shut down the run. But we stuck with it, got our run game going and (that) made it easier for us to throw it. We felt like we could mix it up.

Q: You've got three more tough games now.

Shannon: You can't think about Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech. The only thing you can worry about is the next opponent, that's Georgia Tech. If we after today or tomorrow, after we watch this film, if we keep dwelling on Florida State – don't let Florida State lose the game against Georgia Tech. We get that game we're 2-0 in the conference. That's how we have to look at it as a football team.

Q: How nice is it to have the team ranked No. 20 now?

Shannon: It doesn't make any difference till the sixth game of the season. That's when the real rankings come out.

Q: Some have compared Jacory to Ken Dorsey. What is it about Jacory that lets him handle these big games?

Shannon: You know what? If you go back to Jacory's days in high school, big competition - being at Miami Northwester is a difference. If you go to Miami Northwestern as a football, basketball player, you're held to higher standards and everybody is going to be on you. He came to Miami his freshman year, played in some tough games and got those wins for us, never panicked. That's what it is about Jacory – if you look at (Dorsey's) body, Steve Walsh and Jacory, they're all the same fragile guys. But their mindset and mentality is we're not going to panic, get frustrated, will just keep playing the game. And when they make mistakes they learn from them.

Q: Talk about how Leonard Hankerson did.

Shannon: Hank dropped two balls in the game. Everyone knew it, and everyone probably said, `Oh, that's the old Hank.' But he responded back. That's what I mean with this team starting to get mature. They don't dwell on things. He responded and made some big catches across the middle, downfield, came up with some big key catches. That was big for this football team. Everybody has confidence in each other that when they make a mistake fine, okay, bounce back and let's see what you can do the next play.

Q: How impressed were you with the team's overall maturity?

Shannon: It was huge because we were down by some points, they kept fighting, kept coming back. There were some tough breaks in the game and they didn't let it affect them. Being on the road, they're down nine points, then they get an interception for a touchdown – it was all kind of things that could make a team just shut it down. And they didn't. That's why I'm happy for this team. They matured more, and it comes from the seniors. The younger guys look up to the seniors, and they're starting to develop that confidence in each other - `Hey, we've been here, let's correct the mistakes and let's go. We can get it done. Let's not hold our heads down and say we cannot do it.' And I think that's what happened.

Q: You have to be disappointed with all the cramps issues with the team.

Shannon: It always happens the first game of the season. Everyone makes such a big deal with cramps. The first game of the season is always guys hyperventilating. The night games, guys don't think you have to drink a lot of fluids before. That's just typical. You look at every game that's been on (television), you've seen a lot of guys cramp. That's across the nation. The first game is always going to be that kind of emotion, excitement. It was about 70, 80 degrees. It was a cool night. It wasn't humid like it was down here. It was kind of cool to me and players felt good. The one thing we have to do is, and the players have to understand, is they can't take for granted that because we're in Miami, we practice in humidity, that when they go on the road it's different. You still have to hydrate. And we'll address that issue. It happens every year.

Q: What were those last five seconds like for you?

Shannon: I can't even remember the last five seconds. I thought the clock ran out. One thing that saved us is the timeout situation for Florida State. They didn't have a chance to call timeouts - they had the one run, had to call timeout, then that was the last one. So the next opportunity they had to throw the football. That was a big part of the plan - when it came down to those last seconds we knew they had to throw it, not run it.

Q: What about that last play, not knowing if it was a catch?

Shannon: Once it's thrown and half the guys run off the field, you just go with it. You hope one of those guys made the right call. That ACC crew was a good crew. Early in the game they took control of the game. Once they took control that made that game one of the best games you can watch. It was clean, guys were playing hard, penalties were called. It was a game that they let the players play, and I think that was real big in a TV game.

Q: Brandon Harris had pass interference called against him but then came back on the next pass and made a nice play.

Shannon: That's what I mean by a maturity factor. He was in the same situation last year, was nervous. Now it's `Hey, let's line up and play again. I've been here before.' They attacked him and he made a great play.

Q: It seemed the linebackers weren't real comfortable in pass coverage.

Shannon: It was more communication. Linebackers and the secondary have to be on the same page. That was the biggest thing early in the game. Guys weren't communicating – first game jitters.

Q: After watching tape, who stood out on defense?

Shannon: Randy Phillips had a nice game, an interception. They tried him early on another deep ball - they didn't throw it, we got a sack out of it. Defensive line wise Allen Bailey did a nice job, Josh Holmes did a nice job. Sam Shields, in that situation playing the whole game when Demarcus Van Dyke went out, I thought he really held his own.

Q: How many messages did you get from recruits after the game?

Shannon: It wasn't recruits. It was ex-players, guys in the NFL, guys I played with. It was text after text after text. That's something good to be a part of.

Q: What NFL players texted?

Shannon: You name them, they texted. You pick one you won't be wrong.

Q: Ed Reed, Andre Johnson?

Shannon: Those guys, yes.

Q: Describe Mark Whipple's offensive philosophy.

Shannon: We try to take advantage of personnel and what people give you as far as formation-wise. You see a lot of different formations, some movement to see what we can get out of certain situations. Those big plays we had with Travis (Benjamin) and (Graig) Cooper – you do things in the course of a game to see how they line up. Once you see it, you say, `Okay, I need this play right here, need it in a key situation.' That's when we shifted Cooper out of the backfield (to receiver for a touchdown), because we figured out what they were doing. Early in the game we lined up Thearon Collier as a tight end and they didn't notice it, so the guy didn't adjust. Different things like that you try to get on people to get you some big plays, and we did.

Q: You didn't blitz much early.

Shannon: You have to settle your defense down first. You can't go on the road and start being blitz-happy crazy up there in Tallahassee. You lose focus. You have to give those guys a chance to calm down and play. Blitzing isn't always the answer. You go in blitzing and now you have five touchdowns on you and I'll be asked, `Why did you blitz so much, coach?' (Christian) Ponder is a great quarterback. I said before the season, he doesn't make mistakes. He made a mistake last night on the pick from Randy Phillips and we sacked him for a fumble. What else did Ponder really do wrong in that game? He's never made many mistakes, and that's the sign of a good quarterback.

Q: What are the keys to beating Georgia Tech?

Shannon: We haven't discussed that yet.

Q: They ran for a lot of yards last year against you.

Shannon: It's a totally different game (from Florida State). Georgia Tech will probably run the ball about 50 times, throw it seven or eight. If you average two yards or less, that's about 100 yards if you can do that. The biggest thing in that game is if you can get some points up. That changes the mentality.

Q: How much more confident are you in this offense?

Shannon: I'm confident in this football team. What we had to go through three years ago to now, it's a totally different team, totally different mentality. There's more confidence in the football team and the players.

Q: Does this performance help recruiting?

Shannon: Those (recruits) change their minds so much. They can tell you one thing, and so many months later change it back. (This win at FSU) doesn't make a difference (in recruiting). Every recruit says it does. Toward the end of the season they take trips, coaches tell them what they want to hear, some of them, they get enamored by it and all of a sudden change their minds again. They're kids, 16 and 17 year old kids. If you want to believe them now, on the first Wednesday in February you're like `What happened?'

Q: Do you want players to use timeouts if they need to early in a half, or would you rather keep them?

Shannon: We don't call (timeouts) unless it's a substitution, something like that. That's really when we do it – you call a personnel grouping and a guy may be injured and you have to get the right personnel on the field. Like at Florida State when I called a timeout going in - well, we were in a goal line situation and they were going out with four receivers in the game, so we had to get goal line off the field and put the nickel stuff back on. You can't line up in goal line and have four receivers on the field. You have linebackers covering receivers, you're going to give up a touchdown.

Q: What did FSU coach Bobby Bowden have to say to you?

Shannon: He's always been good to me, even when I was an assistant coach. Before the game I said `How you doing, coach?' He said, `Well, another one of these games, football, ESPN, nationwide TV.' He said, `You can't get better than this.' We talked Miami-Florida State rivalry and good times. After the game he said `Gosh, I've never been around a game more exciting than this - maybe one or two others.' We wished each other good luck. We always say whatever we can do to help each other we will, and that comes from him and his coaching staff. A lot of coaches on his coaching staff I know very well, too. We all have great respect for each other as a coaching staff and as a football team.

Q: Do you have to do anything to bring this team back down to earth after the big win?

Shannon: Me have to do anything? Wrong guy. No. Back down to earth? These guys? Don't have to worry about that.

Q: Jacory's reaction when the ball went incomplete on the last play of the game was very stoic. It was like he was watching paint dry.

Shannon: That's Jacory. He handles himself like that.

Q: Do you have to limit Cooper's carries with him doing returns?

Shannon: He's our running back, Javarris is our running back, and we play Lee Chambers at running back. (Cooper) had 177 yards in returns, that's 17 first downs. You can't get that anywhere else. That's a lot of field position changing just by him returning the football. We're using our talents to get us what we need. It can't be all Cooper is going to do is carry the football. Why not put him at return and see what he can do for us?

Q: Is Cooper more like a Devin Hester or a Roscoe Parrish as a returner?

Shannon: Neither. Those guys are fast, faster than him. When we do kickoff return we treat it as a running play – you find a seam and go. That's what Cooper can do. That's all a running back is. Tremain Mack when he was here is the same kind of guy. Those guys that have that burst are the ones you want to use. You don't want the guys that dance around.

Q: Javarris and Cooper were in the backfield together.

Shannon: Javarris can block and also go out for a pass and Javarris can also line up and play running back. It throws (a defense) off balance a little bit.

Q: Five true freshmen played yesterday.

Shannon: You can't say who will be redshirted or not because the season is a long season and injuries do happen.

Q: Chavez opened up at safety.

Shannon: We used him a lot at safety, a lot at nickel and a little at corner. He's a veteran guy, knows a lot of things we're doing in the secondary. Chavez has great ball skills.

Q: Was your pass rush good enough?

Shannon: First game. It'll improve. Always the first game is a little difficult as far as pass rush and all that stuff. The biggest thing is you have to look at how many times you hit the quarterback. It isn't always pass rush. It's what you do as far as hitting the quarterback, don't give him an opportunity to run around and scramble.

Q: How did the linebackers do?

Shannon: They did well. Having Colin (McCarthy) back was great. When they did four and five receiver sets we were able to use Colin, Sean Spence and Darryl (Sharpton) and those guys rotated around a little bit.

Q: Are you more critical looking at the first game on film because it is the first game?

Shannon: Yeah, you get more critical, say to yourself how much we have to improve from this point to the next point. It's always the biggest jump from the first game to the second game.

* The team returns to practice on Thursday with a 5:45 a.m. practice.

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