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September 12, 2013

Jim Grobe Q-&-A

Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1 ACC) hopes to get back into win column following a disappointing 24-10 to Boston College in Chestnut Hill.

The Demon Deacons will not get a break from its Sun Belt foe Louisiana Monroe (1-1).

Jim Grobe spoke about Saturday's meeting with the Warhawks and more.

Opening statement: "We were disappointed obviously in our performance this past week at Boston College. I think Boston College is a really good football team. I think they had a good plan for us. We lost the turnover battle, lost the penalty battle. We gave up too many big plays defensively, and offensively just didn't make enough plays."

"I think we learned a lot. I think we got a lot of things we can improve on. We're looking forward to getting back on the field and playing again."

Coach, I'm working on a story about turning around losing cultures and programs. I was wondering how you did that at Wake Forest, what steps you took. "Well, basically it was mostly the players more than the coaches. I think we did some good things with the players. But I think they're the ones that get most of the credit."

"When we came in, we went to work, worked really, really hard. I think probably the thing that helped us the most is we didn't dwell on negatives. When we first got here, people said the school is too small, the academics are too tough, schedule is too tough. We didn't worry about those things because those aren't things we have any control over."

"We treated it as we had no disadvantages with the players, worked hard, coached hard. The players responded and gave us some good wins early."

"I think first couple years we were 6-5 our first year, didn't get a bowl game at that point. The ACC didn't have enough for us to get in. The second year we got in a bowl game. Probably having a little bit early success helped us build the program from then on."

When you say it's things you don't control, is it eliminating the excuses? "I think so. I think that's it. So many times you don't have your eye on the target. The target is coaching, blocking, tackling better, finding a way to get out on the field Saturday and win. Sometimes you don't worry on the things you don't have, you focus on the things you do have."

Evaluating the way Tanner played last week, do you feel he's completely comfortable with the option? Is that something you guys are going to continue to do as the season goes on? "Yeah, that's what we're going to do. I think if Tanner had struggled Friday night in the option game and had been spot on throwing the football, I would feel like maybe we're asking him to do too many things. But really as an offense, nobody played real, real well. We didn't block real well. I thought on the perimeter our receivers didn't block very well. We didn't get the blocks we needed, especially in red zone situations with the offensive line. Our backs didn't block very well out of the backfield. We didn't run the ball very well."

"At the same time, when we needed to throw the football, at times Tanner wasn't real accurate. At times we dropped passes. At times we didn't have protection."

"It was really not anything to do with the run game. I think the offense in general just didn't play very well. That's not really a slight on Tanner as much as it is on the offense. I think we got 11 guys that need to play better if we're going to move the football."

When you went back and reviewed the tape, were you able to pinpoint why they didn't play as well as maybe you expected? "It starts with blocking more than anything else. That's not just in the run game, that's in the throw game also."

"I thought Boston College had a nice scheme. They brought a lot of pressure on us. Although we worked on it all week, it's a little different when you get it in live fire. They brought so much pressure on us that we really needed to be able to throw the ball better."

"We were disappointed we didn't run the ball better. In those situations, we're going to have to throw and catch better. There were times when we made the throw and dropped the football, there were times we didn't make the throw. That going forward is going to be a real key for us."

"If teams are really going to spend a lot of time trying to stop the run, we've got to be able to throw and catch better than we did the other night."

What is the biggest concern you have about Louisiana Monroe as you look at them on film? "Probably as much as anything is their athleticism. They're a very athletic team. A lot of team speed. Their kids are very talented. Big, physical front guys that come and get you. Defensively they love to pressure you. They like to bring a lot of different blitzes."

"On the offensive side of the ball, they're going to get you spread out and make you tackle, their skill guys."

"I think a really good kicker."

"They're just a good football team. They were in a bowl game last year. They opened the season at Oklahoma and really played Oklahoma great. Ended up down the stretch not making enough plays, but played Oklahoma really, really good."

"I think probably their speed and athleticism has us as concerned as anything besides being a really well-coached team."

I know you had to play the early part of last season without Nikita Whitlock. Obviously he's back and playing well, it looks like. Can you talk about the difference it makes having him in the rotation and how he is playing? "Well, I think you're right, Nikita is playing really well right now. I think last year we kind of went into the season feeling like the defense kind of revolved around Nikita. It was going to be so hard for people to control him that it would kind of free up some other people."

"Things have changed a little bit now. We thought Justin Jackson, the outside backer, played really well Friday night. Zach Thompson, our other defensive end, played really well. We had the inside backers, probably can play better but we thought played pretty consistent. We had pretty good performances out of our secondary guys."

"What's happened is we have some other play-makers on defense right now that are doing some good things. That's helping free up Nikita a little bit. I think last year people focused on him and said, If we get him blocked, we have a shot."

"Now we have other guys that can make plays so it's helping Nikita a little bit, especially as far as his production, bonus points, tackles for loss, sacks, all that kind of stuff."

Two sacks for the first time in his career the other day. Again, do you think that's a function of the more balance on defense? "I think so. I think he's really worked hard. He's always been a pretty hard worker. Last year he had a lot of injuries. He was banged up a lot most of the season."

"He's healthy now. He had a really good winter and spring. He really has been just fantastic as far as staying healthy, his work ethic. He's kind of on a mission to have a great senior year."

If things should continue to struggle on offense, is there a chance that you would just junk this option and go back to something that you did pretty well last year, which is more of an emphasis on the pass? "Well, that's what we wanted to do Friday night, to be honest with you. We really haven't changed our passing game. We're pretty much the same. We have a few more play actions right now maybe than we did last year. Our drop-back game is very,very similar. We didn't run the ball very well last year. That's not to say that there's really anything to junk right now because we weren't a good rushing team last year. We relied too much on the pass."

"I think we have some feeling that we're not too far off. I think some of the times the other night that we got stalled, we pitched a couple balls on the ground and gave it to Boston College in bad field position that led to 14 points. At times we had some pretty good plays designed that we didn't block very well for."

"I think our focus is really going to be more on improvement than changes. I think probably more than anything else, we need to consider whether we're asking our guys to do too many things. We got a lot of stuff in offensively right now. We didn't execute very well the other night. I think part of the issue may be that we need to actually not change anything but maybe cut some things out."


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