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September 4, 2013

Jim Grobe teleconference Q-&-A

Wake Forest (1-0) forced six turnovers and played 10 freshmen in its season-opening 31-7 win over Presbyterian.

The Demon Deacons travel to Chestnut Hill for a meeting with Boston College (1-0) Friday, Sept. 6 to kickoff ACC play.

Jim Grobe spoke with members of the media during Wednesday's weekly ACC Coaches' Teleconference.

Opening statement: "We were happy to get the season started, and it's always good to get a win in the opener. I thought Presbyterian's kids played really, really hard, and our guys made some of the typical first-game mistakes that you make. But it's always nice to be able to correct mistakes off of a win, and mistakes get a lot higher, and of course the team we're getting ready to play is a really fine football team, well-coached, good players, and going on the road is a concern for us because we played quite a few young guys in the opener and we're going to take those guys on their first road trip, many of them. Going on the road and playing a conference game is going to be a challenge for us, but I think our kids are excited about it."

I just wanted to check in and see how banged up Camp was last week and what his status is going into this one. "I think Camp could have played last week. He had been having problems with his hamstring since our third scrimmage, and he really didn't have what you'd call a pulled hamstring, but it just tightened up and it was sore. He didn't practice much the week leading up to the opener, and we just felt like it would be not in his best interest and ours to try to play him against Presbyterian. But he's full speed again and should be fine against Boston College."

You must have been beyond pleased with all the turnovers you were able to create. What do you think led to all the success you had against Presbyterian there? "Well, we are happy. That's one of the things that we've not done a great job of. A little better last year, but for a couple years our forced turnovers were really low, and last year we started picking it up a little bit. We wanted to continue to emphasize that."

"I think certainly the interceptions were cool with Chubb intercepting one and taking it back for a touchdown. Just played pretty opportunistic defense, which a lot of times you force turnovers and a lot of times with interceptions you go get
them, but a lot of times the ball just bounces your way and you're a little bit lucky. But I thought to have six turnovers, forced turnovers in the opener was really, really good. I'm disappointed that we turned the ball over a couple times. That was disappointing. But I think going forward from a defensive perspective, the teams we play are going to be a lot better, and we're going to have to work harder to do that."

One other question if I can: Once you went back and looked over the tape, what was your evaluation of the run game? "Well, I think the run game is better, but we've certainly got a ways to go. I think we've played a team that was pretty committed to stopping the run, and we honestly were a little bit hard headed about it. We just went into the game with a determination to run the football. We had quite a bit of success throwing the football, but I felt like, especially in the second half, we needed to just grind it, and so we did. We've got a lot of work left to do. We're a work in progress offensively."

"I think a lot of the things that we're doing right now we've done as a coaching staff for several years, but our players have not. We've adopted somewhat of a throw offense and had gotten away from the run game. So we're going back to our roots, really, from Ohio University and our early years here at Wake Forest."

"It's easier for the coaches than it is for the players right now, but I would say that looking back in the opener, we're not happy with the run game, but we feel like it was a good start."

Even though you opened with an FCS team, could you still learn something about your team that you were hoping to from that first game? "Oh, yeah, no question about it, especially the young guys. The one thing you're never quite sure of is how the young guys will handle their first action, and we were pleased from that standpoint. I think the real key is, you know, FCS team or not, in your first game you know you're going to make a lot of mistakes, and so it's good to be able to win and still make a lot of mistakes."

"I thought probably the best thing that we found out about our football team is that we've got some work to do. You kind of figure out what you've got to work on. That's probably the biggest thing is going in you have some ideas about what you should be good at and what are going to be your challenges, but I think coming out of the first game, regardless of who you've played, I think you've got a better idea about your football team."

I wanted to ask you about the fact you played 10 true freshmen in this game, very different from what you've done throughout most of your career. Can you talk about that decision and what prompted it? "Well, there are a couple things, I think. One thing is I think we had a pretty good recruiting class. We've got some kids that we thought coming in were going to be pretty talented players, and we weren't disappointed when they got here. We were still as excited about them when they got here and started practicing as we were when we recruited them. So that's probably the first thing."

"But secondly, I thought at the end of last season we had at least a handful of players on our football team that could have really been helping us toward the end of the year when we had all those injuries. We just became a really bad football team, and especially the special teams were a challenge for us with the numbers. We don't have a lot of depth at Wake Forest to begin with, and then you throw all those injuries we had last year into the mix, and now you get to the end of the year and you worry about offense and defense, but one of our challenges was special teams."

"So we kind of felt like let's try to get these guys started early, and I've always been of the mindset that I didn't want to spend a whole year of eligibility letting a kid just play special teams, but special teams is a great way to work your way on the field, and so what we've challenged our freshmen with right now is that, hey, we didn't just throw you out there for fun last week, but as you go forward, if you want to earn more snaps on offense and defense, and some of them played quite a bit on regular offense and defense, but if you want to earn more reps you've got to continue to improve."

"That was kind of our thought, that last year some of the young guys would have been really good players by the end of the year, and the kids we put on the field this past Thursday we really feel by the end of this season should be contributing quite a bit on offense and defense if they aren't already."

And to change tempo just a little bit, you've only got one game tape of the new regime at Boston College. We see a lot of the same names with Amidon and Rettig and Andre Williams that we're familiar with, but have they changed the way they play, or is it similar attack? "Well, some of their schemes are different. They're doing a lot different things defensively, and then they've got some things that are particular to their staff offensively. But I think the thing that Steve and his staff are doing a good job of is they're utilizing the talent they've got. Rettig, they're doing good things with him in the run game, the play action stuff, the power passes and bootlegs and those kind of things that fit. They're getting the ball to Amidon. They've got the good tailback that they're feeding the ball to a lot. They've got a real good mix of knock-you-down and throw-it-over-you kind of stuff."

"And then defensively they do a good job of mixing base and pressure defenses, and I think they're utilizing the outside linebacker that's really, really special. They're getting him involved in a lot of the pressure stuff off the edge. Just a good, physical, tough Boston College team, but a team that you can tell on film is very well-coached."

I'm sorry to go off the subject of the game, but how surprised were you to see Aaron Curry's NFL career end so soon, and where does he rank among the best players you've ever coached? "Well, it would be hard for me to think of anybody that was a better player than Aaron Curry, and that's not just -- I've coached some really good players. I don't know that I've ever coached one that had the combination of not only being a great player but also being just an emotional leader of the whole defense. When Aaron Curry got started up, everybody got started up. When he brought to Wake Forest and to our defense, you just can't express it because he was not only a great player but he was a great spark for the whole defense and the whole team really in general."

"I think the biggest problem is A.C. is injuries. He got to where he had a knee problem, he had surgery, he developed arthritis in that knee and just couldn't run anymore. The thing that was amazing about Aaron Curry is for a guy that played at about 250, 255 pounds, he could run the running backs down, and I think at the next level when he hurt his knee, I think he lost his ability and his mobility and his ability to run, and for him that was one of the great things about him. He flat-out -- he wore out tight ends, flat-out dominated tight ends, and my guess is he probably still could do that, but I think the thing that was tough for A.C. was I don't think he ever recovered from having knee surgery."


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