While Tigers focus on Deacons, Syracuse busy setting next week's upset trap

Scott Shafer: 'We're starting off against arguably the best team in the conference, which will be a heck of a challenge for us'

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer speaks at the ACC Football Kickoff. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer speaks at the ACC Football Kickoff. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

While Clemson hones its 'one at a time' focus for the homecoming matchup against Wake Forest on Saturday, Syracuse head coach and defensive specialist Scott Shafer is turning his full attention to finding a way to thwart the Tigers' high-powered offense.

Such is the luxury of a well-placed open date.

The Clemson game - Oct. 5 in the Carrier Dome at a yet-to-determined time - is a big deal for Syracuse, being its first-ever ACC game. And the Orange, full of confidence coming off routs of Wagner and Tulane, are preparing an upset trap.

It would be foolish to assume they don't have the ability to pull it off.

The Orange's hopes of knocking off the Tigers hinges, almost certainly, on their ability to stifle Tajh Boyd and the Clemson attack.

Last season, the Orange did pretty well in slowing down a pair of premier quarterbacks in West Virginia's Geno Smith and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Syracuse won both games.

Shafer said on Wednesday, during the ACC coaches' teleconference, that Boyd presents both similar and different challenges.

"We're working on it," Shafer said. "There will be some similarities, and some different things. There are characteristics in the Clemson offense that are quite a bit different than those schools that we've played against. The game plan will be such that it matches up against what their personnel groupings are and the way they try to attack the different looks that teams have given them.

"There are some similarities, but there are a lot of differences, as well."

Shafer expects Boyd to be a handful for his defense.

"It will be a difficult task," Shafer said. "He (Boyd) is a very good football player. You could argue he's the best quarterback in the country. He's played a lot of football, obviously, and he's a legitimate Heisman Trophy type of guy.

"He understands Dabo's offense extremely well. He gets the ball out quick to a very talented wide receiver corps. He also has some tight ends that do a great job blocking on the perimeter as well as catching the ball.

"And then when things aren't there (in the passing game), he does a nice job not forcing it and lets his feet take over to try to move the sticks with his legs. You've got a seasoned veteran that's played very good football for them and understands the offense inside and out."

For now, Shafer is looking forward to the challenge, and is excited to be playing in the ACC.

"It's just great to be in the conference," he said. "I think that it was a great move for us in-house, and hopefully the ACC feels as great about having Syracuse in the conference as much as we do.

"We're starting off against arguably the best team in the conference, which will be a heck of a challenge for us and a great opportunity for us and the students and the community out here to see some of the best players in the conference that play for Clemson."

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