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Q&A: Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula

PANTHERS0803_29
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula (right, with head coach Ron Rivera) returns to Miami, where he grew up as the son of the NFL’s all-time winningest coach, Sunday, but says his only focus is getting the Panthers their eighth win of the season.

Ten questions with the Panthers offensive coordinator, who grew up in Miami as the son of former Dolphins coach Don Shula, the NFL’s all-time winningest coach:

Q. What has this week meant to you personally?

A. It’s the Panthers going to get their eighth win.

Q. But you’re human. This is an organization that’s meant a lot to your family ...

A. Yeah. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the NFL for a while now. I’ve got a lot of good friends, people that I’ve learned a lot from. It’s different than if my dad were coaching there and my brother (David). But there are still some people down there – I don’t know the coaches as well – that are still in the organization that are special to me.

Q. Is it going to be weird being in the visitors locker room?

A. No. I’ve done it before. If it were my first time, yeah. But it’s probably been six, seven, eight times down there. My dad’s still mad at me. We beat ’em down there when I was with Chicago as the tight ends coach. He said we had an illegal pick play that didn’t get called.

Q. Was that at the end of the game, like the Patriots game Monday?

A. No. Now that’s different when your dad’s on the other sideline. And your brother. That’s a lot different.

Q. Did you go to high school in Miami?

A. Yeah. I was five when we moved there (from Baltimore in 1970). So I pretty much grew up there. I was real young when they had the undefeated season (in 1972) and didn’t quite know a whole lot. Now, Dave was six years older than me. He was right in the middle of that. I was still up in the stands. As I got older, in junior high and high school, just like a lot of these other coaches’ kids, I was right out there in the middle of it at training camp. Couldn’t get enough of it.

Q. Were you a ballboy?

A. Yeah, and then charted the plays on the sideline. Got to travel with the team at times. Those are a lot of neat memories.

Q. How old were you when you charted plays?

A. I had to wait ’til my handwriting got good enough. Coach (John) Sandusky had to take it away from me the first time ’til I learned how to write neater and faster. So I was probably 13 (laughs).

Q. Whose jersey did you wear?

A. Jerseys weren’t that big back then. I was obviously a huge fan, and still am, of Bob Griese just for the way he does things, the way he played the game.

Q. On Cam’s 14-yard run against the Patriots, ESPN calculated he ran 75.8 yards, eluded five or six tackles. What would go through you mind watching that as a spectator?

A. Well, he finally watched some tape of me when I was in college (as a quarterback at Alabama) against Memphis State, and tried to mimic that. I think I gained 14 yards on that. It was against man coverage, too. No, you kind of shake your head because it’s nothing you did as a play-caller. You’re just happy that he’s on your side doing it.

Q. Where should we go eat in Miami?

A. Shula’s! What did you want me to say?

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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