Q. Can you talk a little bit about the second go around here in the ACC and how much more comfortable you guys are? You’ve been to some new places now, been to the Carolinas. Do you have a better feel for this league and how much better feel do you have?
SEAN HICKEY: It’s definitely more familiarity more than anything, just to know that you know the personnel each team has. You know the team, are they a physical or a fast team. There’s no second-guessing like last year, maybe take a couple series to figure out how this defense plays and all those types of things. It’s going to be a little bit more like familiar just to go in there and no real surprises we play the same division and then one crossover game, that will be a little bit favorite. Then we have Pitt again as we will every year. It’s just nice to see the same teams. It will be a little bit easier this year I think in terms of understanding who we’re playing instead of coming into the game a little unsure.
Q. The offensive line for Syracuse changed a little bit from last season to this season. You’ve been on the left side, you’ve been on the right side. What can you say about how things are kind of shaking out and how you see this offensive line after the spring?
SEAN HICKEY: Well, the first thing I’d like to say is after this season I was really impressed with how our center John Miller, he lost a lot of weight, and he got stronger and faster, and that really translated onto the field. So he kind of brought an aspect to this offensive line that I didn’t really foresee coming into this after last season, coming into like who would this offensive line be, losing Mackey, and he really did a great job, and he kind of threw a wild card in there that I didn’t see coming. With him doing that good and having the four other guys back, and we also have Omari Palmer who can play basically anywhere, he’s a really good player, as well as Michael Lasker who is competing with Ivan Foy at the right tackle position, we have a depth we didn’t necessarily have last year with people being ready to play, and it’s exciting.
Q. Sean, Terrel Hunt took custody of the quarterback position about mid year and you guys began to get better after that. Given the fact that most ACC teams are looking at new quarterbacks, what kind of comfort level do you have knowing that you’ve identified your guy?
SEAN HICKEY: Well, it’s huge because having Ryan Nassib for so long and how great of a quarterback he was, he did a lot of things that like a bunch of other quarterbacks don’t do, and then to go from him to a new quarterback last year, it was a little bit of a learning curve, but what Terrel did a great job of, when he got in there, he demanded respect, and that was in spring ball of last year. And then we had — and then Drew came in and then once Terrel got the shot at it again, he just demanded respect like he never left. We got used to him, but at the same time we got used to him as the year went on, but he really did a great job, and to have him back and not have to go through that learning curve again is very — it’s a big advantage for us.
Q. You guys have the ultimate measuring stick in the division, defending national champs, Florida State, you saw them last year. Could you talk a little bit about the gap between Florida State and Syracuse, how wide is that gap and how long do you think it’ll take to kind of close that gap?
SEAN HICKEY: Well, to be kind of blunt and obvious, they’re the national champs for a reason. There’s not one team that was better than them last year. The gap is significant. They are basically NFL players across the board at every position. So yeah, they’re ahead. I feel the things Syracuse has to overcome, and I’ve said this multiple times today, is that there is this persona or this image from the mid 2000s that’s still kind of hanging around when we were like a 1-and-11 team or like won three games, four games, and that kind of — I think that view is still hanging around even though we’ve won three bowl games in the last four years. It’s still — people sometimes when they hear Syracuse they think of that, and I think recruits think of that, too, because they were growing up in that time when Syracuse — when they were starting to get introduced to football, Syracuse was like a 2-and-10 team. It’s about us making the key point in the seasons back to back to back of winning bowl games, of having winning records, of improving and getting better that’s going to eventually bring more guys in. Keep working hard like we always have, bring more guys in, eventually try to slowly close that gap. I think that’s what Syracuse does well is that kind of image from the rest of the nation, that everybody keeps thinking back to those years, but it’s been a while, but I understand why they think that way. But that’s really what we have to keep winning, and hopefully in years to come that gap slowly closes.
Q. This is a league that’s very deep. At Clemson they’ve got a first team All-American returning which is an unusual thing in today’s game. Can you comment on the game of Vic Beasley and what you’ve seen from him on the field and also looking at him on film?
SEAN HICKEY: Sure. The first thing I noticed when I watched film on him is he’s on his third or fourth step and everybody else is on their first. I’ve noticed the way his legs move is with such speed but also with such velocity. That’s truly the first thing I noticed on film. He’s on his third step is when everybody else is on their first, so that brings — in that game I was getting more of a — my get-off was faster than it was all season because it had to be. An offensive lineman. Our sets are really dictated on who we’re playing, so if someone is playing a little slower I’m not going to go real fast, because it means I’ll pass them up. When somebody is going extremely, extremely fast, I’ve got to get out really, really fast and he brings also a rush that’s not just purely speed or not just purely power. It’s truly a multiple-dimension rush. He can speed rush you or he can bull rush you, and for him being 240 pounds, he’s probably the strongest 240-pound person I’ve ever blocked. I think he’s a genetic gift, and he’s a very good athlete, and I’d say he’s the best pass rushing defensive end, or run stopping, I think he’s the best defensive end in college football, actually.
Q. Going back to changing the climate, what has Scott Shafer done to change the climate in the locker room with you, and talk about going through the first season with Coach Joe Adam.
SEAN HICKEY: I feel Coach Shafer really wants us to take control of our own team rather than in the past where everybody — this was Coach Marrone’s team. He ran the ship every way, shape and form it was his team. Coach Shafer has taken a little different approach. He wants us to take a little bit more ownership in what happens and us police our own — whether it comes to people like missing class or whatever, like us to police it and hold our players accountable rather than the coaches holding us accountable. So I would feel that’s the one thing Coach Shafer is trying to bring to the table more. Coach Adam, he’s done a great job for making the transition between like his last job and this one. He’s done — like I said earlier about Terrel demanding respect, Coach Adam has demanded respect since he got here, and listening to him talk about football, then you start to respect him because he understands he knows what he’s saying even though he’s been a defensive coach for a while. He does bring a aspect to the game that you want to learn from, and the thing I’ve got to see is I got to see three different O-line coaches in three seasons. I had Greg Adkins for my first three years here, then last year I had Pat Perles and this year I have Joe Adam, so you get to see all kinds of different coaching philosophies and how they view certain technique things so I can pick and choose from each one, which one has helped my game the best, and then I can apply say I like something from Coach Adkins and I like something from Coach Perles and I like something from Coach Adam, I can like morph it. To keep getting exposed to things like that, his type of coaching, just helps you become an overall better player.
Q. First and foremost, you’ve had not only yourself on the outside by Dyshawn Davis on other end. What can you say about the talent that you guys have put together? You’ve really been asked a lot right when you got to Syracuse right to this moment right now.
CAMERON LYNCH: Dyshawn is 6’3″, 220 pounds, very fast. When I came in as a freshman me and him were vying for spots, and he got the spot. He’s a great player, and me being behind him says a lot, too. As soon as I got my role in the Okie, our blitz package, the year after, and then my junior year when he started and I started and Marquis started, it was like, this is something special. It’s a privilege to play with him and also Marquis Spruill. We put together a good season last year. We played our best the Maryland game and that was really something special I’ll never forget.
Q. You’re from ACC country, a Georgia native. You talked a little bit about earlier this afternoon kind of taking another step this year. You guys have had your first year in the ACC, you’ve been through that. Now you want to make a move. How important is it for this team and you, a Georgia native, to make a mark this year?
CAMERON LYNCH: It’s huge. This is my last season. We have a great senior class, and I think it’s imperative that we show the freshman class a winning way because we were here when we lost five straight games and we were also here during the Pinstripe Bowl we won and also the Texas Bowl. We’ve been a part of that incline. To teach them how to be successful in this upcoming season is imperative, especially for us to go out in the right way and win some games.
Q. Coming from Georgia, not only you going to Syracuse but there’s been an influx in Syracuse getting guys from the South and digging out from Georgia for the incoming class for 2014 and even further than that. What can you say about that pipeline and how important the Georgia talent will be to Syracuse?
CAMERON LYNCH: It’s huge. George Morris is one of the upcoming juniors, and he’s done a good job being from Georgia. Joshua Parris playing tight end from Georgia, as well, we’re all from the same area. Getting these guys from the South and matching the speed of Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, getting the same talent is huge. I’m glad to be part of that wave, coming to Syracuse and not getting recruited by those other schools and showing them that even though you’re undersized you still have great tangibles and great things to offer. I’m excited for what Syracuse can do in the future.
Q. Last year 330 points giving up. How do you cut that number down?
CAMERON LYNCH: We cut it down by making fewer mistakes. Last year there were a lot of blown coverages, lots of he said, she said. Now as a whole team cutting down on mistakes and making sure we play assignment football. It’s our second year in the ACC, second year behind Coach Bullough as a defense. This year is going to be very special, and I can’t wait for it.
Q. What’s the personality of this ball club?
CAMERON LYNCH: Our guys, one of the guys who transferred in was like, hey, how come there’s no fights on this team, and we’re like, we don’t fight. My freshman year we got in a few tussles, but this year there’s no such thing as fighting on our team. We have a lot of guys who have big egos and who are really manly, but we’re not going to fight on our team. We love each other dearly and when we leave here, this is the best time of my life, so when we leave here we’ll have a story to tell and a great brotherhood behind us.