Coaches and players spoke with media following Wake Forest's season-opening 20-17 victory over Liberty.
Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
On the struggles of Tanner Price and the offense: "Tanner uncharacteristically I thought tonight missed three or four easy throws that were right there, and then some of the great throws that he made we didn't hang onto. It's just a combination of a lot of different things; not protecting as well as we can and we didn't run the ball as well as I'd like to, but we had bits and pieces of a running game tonight and just a lot of things that didn't come together tonight and it's amazing … I told the players after the game in the locker room I think what they're going to do when they come in Monday and look at the film they're going to be amazed at how one guy not doing what he's supposed to can break a play down."
Overall what did you think of the offensive line? "It was bad early. One of the things that led to their first score was a holding call by a guy that shouldn't. It's Antonio [Ford], and he's the older guy in that group. He's got more experience. He just got beat underneath, a good move by their defensive tackle, and he grabbed him and that put us in terrible field position. And then of course we punted it out on the 50 and then they hit the big throw, and gave them a lot of momentum and got them fired up."
"We missed a couple of blocks, especially in short-yardage situations. We turned them loose two or three time times in short-yardage situations, and ended up having to punt instead of getting another series of downs. I might feel differently once we look at the video, but I really think that early the offensive line was very shaky and we made a lot of mistakes. I know we had Frank Souza one time pull when he wasn't supposed to pull and just things like that young guys do."
"As the game went on I thought they really started playing better. I think once they settled their cleats in the grass a little bit they started playing a little bit better. I think that's what we're going to see. I think we're going to feel like what happened early was kind of expected, but then I thought the o-line started playing better and other guys didn't step up. When skill guys, when you start getting a little protection, a little better blocking, now they got to step up and make plays, and we didn't do that very well."
What about the kicking game? How concerned are you about that? "I kind of liked everything. I didn't like Jimmy [Newman] kicking the kickoff out [of bounds]. We really gave them great momentum. We go out and fumble the snap and don't get the extra point, then the very next kick Jimmy kicks it out of bounds and puts it on the 35 and they go down and score."
"We had a chance to kind of nail it, hit the extra point and kick the ball either out of the end-zone or cover it well and give them the long field, and we let them spot the ball on the 35. They did that for us one time. That's really tough when you do that, so I think it's going to be a mixed bag. I think we'll be happy with Mate [Kinal], and we're certainly not happy when you muff a snap and the set. That's something we work on all the time. We've done it a million times probably give or take a couple."
"And then with Jimmy we think that we may have gotten penetration and got the field goal blocked, the longer field goal that looked a little bit like a negative dihedral coming out of there. I think there's a chance somebody got a finger on that. At least they felt like it was, so we'll look at the video on that, but I loved seeing the ball going out of the end-zone a few times. That's what we weren't getting last year, so he's improved his leg-strength. I was pleased to see him kickoff as well as he did except for the one."
A.J. Marshall gave you a big play defensively on that interception. "Yeah, yeah, really, really good. He's done that in a couple of our scrimmages, and I feel really good about A.J. right now. I think on the corner he's a good player, but he's a better than a good player as a safety, so he'll keep getting more reps. That's a good spot back there right now with D-Lowe and D-Mack and A.J. Forcing turnovers is one thing, but turnovers for scores that was one of the best offensive plays we had tonight."
How close was Bud [Noel] to playing tonight? "Don [Steelman] brought him in yesterday [Friday] and looked at him, checked him out, and he doesn't have enough leg-strength right now. I think Don was working with him, and he could barely pick his leg up. You never know with kids, especially with Bud, because he's been dinged quite a bit in the past and still came out and played."
"We were hopeful he'd wake up and feel great, but we're going to have to bring him along. Hopefully by Monday night he'll be full-speed and back or when we need him, especially with this crowd [Tar Heels] coming to town that's going to throw it as much as they do."
Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock
You'll just take it right now huh? "You just take the W, that's all you can do. Whether it's three points or 49 points or five points it doesn't matter, [we] just got to look forward to next week and play better."
You did a good job of breaking through, getting pressure, flushing the quarterback out of the pocket, weren't necessarily able to get a clean shot, but made it possible for other guys to make plays. Talk about the pressure you were able to get. "That was definitely one of my personal goals, and one of the goals of the defensive line is pressure this year. We did do a good job. I broke through the line a few times and had the quarterback in my sights. I just let him slip out of my hands. I guess the next goal is to finish better."
"When it comes to offense and passing there's only so many schemes you get slide schemes, you get man schemes, there's only so much you can do, so all you really can do as a defensive lineman is perfect your skills."
"And so we've been working a lot as a defensive line on just getting better, and I think we have gotten better. We're pressuring them more. We just got to figure out who's going to be that man pressuring the quarterback and who's going to be that man coming for the trap and making the sack, because it takes more than one man a lot of times to get a sack. One or two times I was there and defensive ends over-pursued and one or two times defensive ends were there and I wasn't there, so we just got to come together better as a defensive line and figure out how to finish."
Wake Forest team Doctor David Martin
What's going on with Sherman Ragland's hand? Coach Grobe said it was a compound dislocation. "Sherman Ragland got his finger caught in a helmet, and had an open dislocation of his small finger, and were able to get than back into joint and clean that out, and we were able to sew that up and get him splinted and he was ready to play if he needed to."
How serious is that type of injury? "It's something we need to follow closely, because when the bones come through the skin that can be a problem and we were worried about infection, and we brought him in and washed it out real good and made sure all of the tendons were intact and now we'll have to protect that joint until all of the soft tissues heal and we'll keep him on antibiotics to avoid infection."
Looking toward next week is it realistic to think he'll be able to play? "I hope, yes. I hope so. I hope so. We'll hopefully be able to work from a splint to heavy taping, to lighter taping, so he'll be ready to go next week."
Liberty head coach Turner Gill
On the overall performance: "I'm proud of the way our guys played. I think our guys made a good effort. Made a lot of good pulls in this ballgame and proud of the way they played. Defense played a heck of a ballgame; offense did good things and we also did some things that we caused on ourselves. One good thing I think was quarterback [Brian] Hudson did a real good job. Mason did great. Our offensive line did a pretty good job for most part. Defense played well. I thought Chris caught a great game, great rectitude. Quite a few guys; good to see we had a little depth."
On perimeter play: "That's the thing I was hoping to do. I think that was the key. For the most part we played that pretty well. We gave little good plays and we knew they were a team that would have some gauges. We want to make sure we eliminate some of those teams or minimize anyways. I think the tackle was a part of the key thing. I think Josh Woodrum made some great calls. Our d-line they control [the] line of scrimmage."