After a demoralizing 56-7 loss to No. 3 Clemson Jim Grobe knows a win over in-state rival NC State (3-1, 0-2 ACC) could be the shot in the arm his team needs.
Wake Forest (2-3, 0-2 ACC) is 6-6 against the Wolfpack since Grobe has been head coach of the Demon Deacons.
Grobe spoke with members of the media about Saturday's meeting with the Pack in Winston-Salem and more.
Opening statement: We need to play again. We didn't play very good this past Saturday, obviously, and I thought Clemson just played lights out. I think they're a real deal football team, and we didn't play well enough to give ourselves a chance."
"Again, I think we got beat by a really good football team, and we've got another really good football team coming to town this Saturday."
Coach, is there any way you can explain why this rivalry has been so home field based over the last decade? "You know, really, I can't, Al. The guys in the press conference yesterday talked about it, and I had not realized how it been such home and home. We've had great give and take with NC State. It's been a good rivalry since I've been here, but I didn't realize the difference between home field and away until it was pointed out."
"Obviously, we've got some kids on our team that went to -- either went to school with some of these guys or played against them in high school. So I think that breaks a little bit of a rivalry, but I didn't realize that the home field advantage had been so great."
The other thing is new coach at NC State, new system. How different is it to the teams you got used to facing with Tom O'Brien running the show? "Obviously, it's different from when Chuck Amato was there and then Tom and now Dave. They're doing a really good job."
"It's a typical NC State football team from a talent standpoint. They've got a lot of talent. They're doing a good job coaching these guys."
"Just different schemes, but you would expect that with a new coaching staff."
As far as your offense now with a month under your belt here in the season, are you starting to think, okay, we're just going to have to -- if we're going to have a team that can't really score more than 25 points a game, then we just have to win games in the 20s this year. Or what's kind of your mindset of what you need from your defense each week, considering how the offense has been doing? "Well, it's really hard on a defensive football team. We've played really poorly at Clemson, and, again, I mentioned before, I thought Clemson just really, really played well."
"From a defensive perspective, typically, your defense can play pretty good if you get some help from the offense. We really haven't been able to do that here at the start of the season. We're trying to figure out what we do best, and it's really tough right now because we've gone against some pretty good defensive football teams."
"You think we would start to know pretty much our personnel and what's best for us, but even though I think we know our personnel better, we really haven't found a niche yet."
"So we're continuing to work some different things in the running game and the throwing game and trying to figure out a way to get our best players the football. We need to really, obviously, every week play good defense and good special teams unless we start playing better offensively."
I saw last week that you pulled Tanner in the second half. Was that a matter of there was just nothing left to gain and everything to lose for him injury-wise? Or was there something else involved in your decision there? The other thing is, as a senior in his final season, how is he handling the frustration level of really not being able to find a rhythm offensively yet? "Well, it's tough. I think the reason we made the change Saturday was we were down 35-7 at halftime, and we really didn't want to be in a situation later in the season where, if we lose Tanner, the backup guys wouldn't have any experience whatsoever."
"So it was an opportunity for us to play the backups. Obviously, we would have liked to have seen either one of those guys really go in and do some great stuff and give us maybe a reason to play them a little bit here down the stretch. But we really got a couple guys that don't have a lot of experience that just need more work, obviously."
"And I think Tanner's our guy. He's handled things pretty well. I'd like to see him be a little bit more out front with our football team, but I think at times we don't run routes very well, and at times when we do put the throws on guys, they don't make the catch, and there are times when our protection is not very good."
"So it really doesn't get to just one guy. It's not just Tanner having issues, but offensively, we're just not playing well as a group. I think it starts with the quarterback, though. I think he's the guy that's got to play better. I think he feels that way. He knows that. He's not a guy that points fingers. He's a team guy."
"But he's going to have to play better for us to have a chance. Regardless of the supporting cast, we've just got to get him to play better football."
Coach, talk about the game going up against NC State. What do you see in their defense? "Well, Christopher, they're very athletic. They remind me a lot of Clemson's defense. They've got a good front four that's very physical and athletic. They give you a lot of different line twists up front. They're got guys in the back end that can really run. They all chase the football really, really well."
"So they're a very aggressive defense with a lot of athletic ability, and I just think they're really, really good."
Well, talk about this rivalry, or this 100th meeting or whatever between you guys and NC State. What do these games mean to you? "Well, just we've been playing them for a long time. I think any time you play a team every year, it becomes a rivalry, and that's what we've been doing. When we went to divisions in the ACC and NC State and Wake ended up in the same division, we continued to play each other every year."
"I think the crossover teams that you play that you play once every four or five years don't have the same meaning, but I think the idea that, since I've been here, we've played NC State every year -- and especially being an in-state school where a lot of our players and their players have either gone to school together or competed against each other, I think that helps make it a rivalry."