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July 22, 2013

ACC Kickoff Q-&-A with Jim Grobe: part I

Greensboro, NC - Jim Grobe is entering his 13th year as head coach at Wake Forest.

His tenure in Winston-Salem has been a successful one, leading the Demon Deacons to 73 wins, an ACC Championship (in 2006), five bowl appearances and three bowl victories; however, Wake has not reached the post-season since 2011 nor finished above .500 since 2008. The Deacs hope to get back on track in 2013.

Grobe spoke with members of the media about 2012's woes, off-season changes, areas of concern and more at the 42nd annual Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff.

You talked about [Michael] Campanaro. You're not going to throw as much. That just means you're going to have to find ways to get him the ball if you're not throwing. "Yeah, I think the thing for us is we'd like to get back to when we were first at Wake Forest we handed the ball a lot to our receivers to John Stone, Fabian Davis whether it be a speed sweep, orbit sweep, whether we're reading an option play and pitching the football play, so with Camp really what we'd like to do is get the ball to him as many times as possible. We got to be kind of careful it's not always him, because he could wear down, but I do think we have to find other ways to get Camp the ball than just throwing it to him and he wants to get to where we're letting him throw it more."

More and more programs are emphasizing the non-offensive touchdown. That's something you emphasized at Wake Forest dating back to 2007 when you had a phenomenal 10. You have not come close to that total the last couple of years. I'm sure you still stress it. Is that a function of personnel, luck, and what would it mean to your success this year if you get some more non-offensive touchdowns? "You got to start with personnel first, but we got to look at ourselves as coaches and we work really hard on trying to force turnovers and be an opportunistic defense."

"I think when you've got guys like Aaron Curry, Alphonso Smith you tend to take the ball away from people more, and I think we've got a few of those guys on our defensive football team this year. I think we've got some guys that can take the ball away from you."

"I think we're moving in the right direction. I think we've improved our turnover total on defense last year from the year before quite a bit if I remember right, and I think our best years with the Deacs have been when we've forced over 30 turnovers. We're hopeful to get back to that this year."

You talk a lot about getting your running game going and helping out the passing game. Josh Harris is one of those players who has been through a lot of injuries and has kind of been viewed as a player who hasn't reached his potential. This is his final year. This is his final go at it. What are you expecting out of him to help in that area of the running game? "Well, I think we've got to make the decision that that's going to be a staple of our offense and not just a mixer."

"I talked last year about our need to run the football more effectively. I think that was more of a wish than a focus, and now it's a focus. I think that's something whether it's Josh or DeAndre [Martin] or [Joshua] Wilhite or maybe a freshman coming in. We moved Dominique Gibson to running back this spring. Somebody has to step up and be a quality running back for us."

"I think one of the things that we would like is to get back to the Chris Barclay kind of guy, and I'm not talking about the ACC Player of the Year kind of guy. I'm just talking about a guy who we could go into a game and think we're going to hand him the ball 25 times. We haven't had that in a long time, a guy that could take that many handoffs and still be standing at the end of the game, so that's what we're looking for."

"It might be Josh Harris. It might be somebody else, but we have to find somebody that's going to carry the load if we're going to run the football better."

Coach, for a long time an incoming freshman knew that the odds were quite good that they would be redshirted and the odds were also quite good that they probably weren't going to see the field much as a redshirt freshman or even as a sophomore. Given the injuries last year and given perhaps some philosophical changes might we see more true freshmen take the field for you this year and can you give us any idea who might be early on your radar? "Really my only thought is give you the four best years of football I can. I don't want to have you be the tight end on the field goal team and waste a whole year of eligibility, so my coaches can promise me that the freshmen they're going to put on the field is going to get about 15, 20 snaps on offense or defense, maybe more, but at least that and play a bunch of special teams. I have no problems with putting those guys on the field."

"What we did last year that really hurt us is we were very cautious in trying to save a redshirt year for those guys. We let them play their four older years as their best years and toward the end of the year our special teams were so bad we probably had at least four or five freshmen that were on the shelf that we couldn't pull a shirt off that late that would have really made us better."

"I think if you had one position right now that we're really going to focus on is linebacker. I think the depth at linebacker is going to be an issue for us, and I think we'll put four really good ones on the field, but beyond that we're going to need some help, so if you're a freshman right now and especially if you're playing linebacker you might be on the field for the Deacs sooner than you expected."

Stay tuned to Deacons Illustrated for part II of the ACC Kickoff Q-&-A with Jim Grobe.

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