Although his team is on a bye this week, Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe still spoke at the weekly ACC teleconference. Grobe's 2-1 Demon Deacons squad will return to action Saturday, October 1 on the road with a game at Boston College.
COACH GROBE: We got a good win this past Saturday. I thought the Gardner-Webb kids came in and played really, really hard. They got after us a little bit early, then we were able to get our feet on the ground and play better down the stretch.
It's nice to get a win.
This week will be a good week for us to get back to working fundamentals and try to get better because the stretch that we've got coming up after this open date is going to be brutal. We've got to play a lot better down the stretch.
I wanted to talk a little bit about Chris Givens, the start he's off to, what he's doing that's making him so effective.
COACH GROBE: Well, Chris and I have talked a lot over the past couple years. As a young guy he was a little bit immature, didn't work as hard as he needed to. As a junior now he's doing all the things we'd like for him to do. In the past we knew we had a really fast receiver. That's what Chris has got. He's got really, really good foot speed.
But as a freshman and sophomore, that's what he was known for, was just being a fast guy. Now I think he's starting to develop into a good football player. There's a big difference between a fast guy and a good football player. He's actually a kid now that's working harder in the weight room, he's having more consistent practices, he's showing a little bit more durability, he's still practicing and working through some bumps and bruises.
I think the key for Chris is he's just matured. He's got the good foot speed and developed a pretty good set of hands. Once in a while he won't totally focus and he'll drop a ball. But he's made some spectacular catches in the first three games. I think he's a kid, but if he continues to work like he's working right now, he has all the things you want. He has the ability to catch it. He can improve his blocking a little bit, as all our receivers could. I think the key for Chris is he's got the good foot speed, (and a) pretty good set of hands to go with it.
Is this a pretty early week for an off week. Would you rather have it later in the
COACH GROBE: Yeah, I would. I think most coaches, if you could design it, you would want one right in the very middle. Play six, get an open date, play six more. For us right now it's going to be fine. I think we're a pretty healthy football team. I think most of the time you'd like to have an open date to get everybody healthy. We are a pretty healthy football team right now. I think what it will be for us.
We noticed against Gardner-Webb Saturday night, fundamentally we didn't play well at times. It will be a good week for us to spend more times on ourselves than the next opponent. I'd like to have it a little bit later, but I think it's fine where it is.
There's been a whole lot of money spent on facilities in college football in the last 10 years or so. You have the new video board coming online. How important are the bricks and mortar facilities to a program? Outside of wins and losses, is there a way to measure the return on the investment?
COACH GROBE: Well, I think the two things that you have to look at, the two factors, are recruiting and being able to make money. Certainly we're in the business of doing both. I think certainly the tower has helped our revenue, we're selling sky boxes to pay for that tower project. I think we've added some club seats, luxury seating beyond the tower. That's helped us.
I don't think there's any question that we're starting to increase season ticket sales, things like that, so it's going to help us financially. With the new scoreboard, same deal. I think our fans are going to get a big kick out of this new video board. That's very important.
Basically when we first got here, everything was bad. We didn't really have anything facility-wise that was good to show recruits, but we've improved our practice facilities, our office facilities, our game-day experience over at the stadium. We've done a lot of things to the stadium.
I think kids like to go places where they see progress. I think that's the key for us, is that we're never going to be bigger, we're never going to spend more money than anybody else. But what we can do is make all of our facilities really nice and have ongoing projects each year to try to improve our facilities because that's what helps in recruiting. The kids notice when you're making facility improvements. The recruiting is very important because if you win games you're going to make
Basically the fans want to come see good football teams. It's two-pronged. Certainly you're trying to get more fans in the stadium by having nicer facilities but you're also trying to attract better recruits.
Have you gotten better recruits in the last couple years? Is it tied directly to the
COACH GROBE: I think we have. I think we'll know more here over these next two or three years. I think that's one of the problems we had over the last couple years. I think our facilities have improved. The year we built the tower facility, that's the year we won the ACC. I think the recruiting has improved. I think our last couple years where we weren't very good football-wise because we out-recruited our older players.
We had a better young group than the old group. I'm thinking facilities had something to do with that. I don't know which had more to do with it, winning the ACC or improving our facilities. But I've got a feeling that both of them had a pretty good effect. I think over the next couple years we're going to enjoy watching these kids play that we've
You have a pretty long stretch after the bye week.......
COACH GROBE: I noticed that. Thanks for reminding me (laughter).
What are your main concerns right now that you can focus on and fix to ensure different outcomes in regards to the post-season?
COACH GROBE: We're going to try to do some of that this week. I mentioned a little bit earlier about fundamentals. I thought our pass-protection fundamentals and our run-blocking fundamentals were not very good the other night against Gardner-Webb, for whatever reason, I don't know why. We've got to just be better fundamentally.
On defense we didn't tackle very well at times. We're going to work hard on blocking and tackling this week. That's the nice thing about an open date, we know we've got Boston College coming up. That's been a battle for us every year. But I think we can focus a little bit more on Wake Forest right now than on Boston College.
The real key for us first and foremost is we don't have a whole lot of depth so we have to stay pretty healthy. The other thing we've got to continue to improve. I don't think we can stay status quo and go through the stretch we're going to go through and find ourselves in a bowl game at the end of the season. We're going to have to continue to improve.
It's only been three games. You said your team was better than it was last year. Do you feel like you've got a bowl team right now or is it still too early to tell?
COACH GROBE: I feel like we're potentially. Maybe we're not too bad right now. I think we have the potential to be better than we are right now. That would make us a pretty good football team. But I think if you look at the people that we've got on our schedule down the road, we're going to play a ton of bowl teams as we go through our schedule.
I'm hopeful that we can win enough to be competitive for a bowl game and hopefully be
competitive every week. I think honestly if you look at our schedule, it's a battle. We're going to have to play great every week. It's going to be one of those years where we can't make very many mistakes. We can't turn the ball over much, have too many penalties, have too many things go wrong in the kicking game and beat any of the teams we've got down the road.
Where were you when you found out that the ACC was expanding and what was
COACH GROBE: Actually (Wake Athletics Director) Ron Wellman gave me a call and let me know that was in the pipeline. He gave me a little bit of a heads up that
it was going to happen. To be honest with you, I'm just a football coach. I don't get into any of this stuff. I don't have discussions of who I would like to see or if I would like to see expansion or any of that stuff.
Ron called me in when we added Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, threw that one at me. Now we're adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse. We have a great president in Nathan Hatch. You know how much I trust Ron Wellman completely. Same way with Nathan Hatch. Then John Swofford I think does a great job for our conference. Those are three men I really trust. I'll let them handle all that other stuff. I'm just trying to coach football.
I assume that was sometime last week. Did you say, Wow? Were you kind of shocked or not surprised at all?
COACH GROBE: Well, I tell you, around the country, it had been rumored so much about everybody else going everywhere, I hadn't heardmuch about the ACC stuff. To be honest, I spend a lot of time this time of year looking at our next opponent, trying to get our team ready. It doesn't shock me that we decided to add a couple teams because it seems like that's the trend everywhere. I had no idea who would be added. It was interesting to find out it would be Syracuse and Pittsburgh.