Wake Forest (5-6, 3-5 ACC) will follow its Thanksgiving Day celebration with an intense challenge Saturday, Nov. 24 when Vanderbilt (7-4, 5-3 SEC) comes to town.
The Demon Deacons are 6-8 all-time versus the Commodores, but have won three of the five meetings during Jim Grobe's tenure as head coach.
Grobe, Riley Haynes and Lovell Jackson discussed the regular season finale against Vandy and more with Deacons Illustrated and other members of the media.
Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
One more win and you will be officially be bowl-eligible, and possibly if you don't get that win you might be bowl-eligible. How would you feel about that? "I feel like we're a pretty good football team. We've played three top 10 teams this year, and for the Deacs that's a lot to chew on, of course a couple in our league and Notre Dame might be the best team in the country, so that's tough. We played a tough schedule, and that's the problem when you play in a good league and you play a good non-conference schedule is that you can actually be a pretty good football team and not have a lot to show for it. We'll just see what happens. We just need to play, and try to take care of ourselves."
How was practice last night? "I liked it. You know our guys practice. They want to play good. You would think after a couple of really tough losses that we've had this year that kids would be down, but they just don't. They just bounce back. Our guys are trying. Our guys like playing, and they want to play good. We've had some games where we haven't played real well this year. Of course who we're playing has something to do with that, but we had a good practice. I think we practice good. We just got to play better."
"I think we come out really jacked up and ready to play, but sometimes too much energy can be a problem and you don't play good early and then by the time you settle down things are out of hand, so we really need to start better Saturday and try to hang in there. Hopefully as the game goes on we'll play better, but not start out spotting them with a big lead and then try to play back to them."
You're getting ready to face another talented, well-coached team. What are some characteristics of Vanderbilt that stand out to you? "Well, maturity as much as anything. I think they start maybe 19 juniors and seniors. All their kids on defense, all [of] their starters are juniors and seniors. Offensively, eight or nine of their starters are juniors and seniors. Most of these kids started last year. I think they've got eight or nine starters on both sides of the ball back from last year, and I thought they were a pretty good football team last year."
"And then they also returned their kicker and punter that are both good players too, so this is a veteran football team and it's kind of what we want to be most years. We want to play a lot of juniors and seniors and what goes with that is not only do you play good, but you're a pretty tough team and you come out and play four hard quarters and that's what they're doing."
Wake Forest inside linebacker Riley Haynes
How was practice last night? What did you see out there? "I see a team that still has a lot of fight left in it, and knows we still have an opportunity to accomplish the goal that we out with this season. We would like to get a couple of the wins we didn't get earlier in the season, but we're still in the same spot that we want to be in. We want to be in a spot where we control our destiny to play in the post-season."
On last season's 41-7 loss to Vanderbilt: "Any time you lose to someone in the past you kind of want to play better, maybe return the favor, but it's a different season, different teams, but I know that Vanderbilt's a very solid football team. They've beaten a lot of good football teams this year. They play in the Southeastern Conference, so you know they've been tested. They're a tough football team, great running backs, just very fundamentally sound, well-coached. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us to come out with a victory on Saturday."
Wake Forest wide receiver Lovell Jackson
You've had an expanded role, especially in recent weeks. What has that been like for you? "It's been a roller coaster, but it's been fun and I've enjoyed every second of it."
What are you seeing from this Vanderbilt defense? They're obviously doing something right. They held a pretty potent Tennessee offense under wraps for the most part. "They have a great defense. They have a great offense also, and I think we have a great offense. We just have to get it going, and if we get our offense rolling we are very likely to get the ball moving."
"They're just a good football team. It's a talented football team, and maybe the best running back in the SEC in Zac Stacy. And one of the better quarterbacks, I think [Jordan] Rodgers has the ability to beat you with his feet and run the football and also has a really nice arm. They got the [Jordan] Matthews kid receiver, more than one receiver, but one that jumps off the screen at you with big plays."