Wake Forest is a week and a half into fall training camp and the Demon Deacons met with media Tuesday, Aug. 14 to discuss pre-season practice and the upcoming season.
Wake Forest Cornerback Kevin Johnson
How are things going with Coach Duffie? "I think Coach Duffie is an excellent coach. He's teaching us in a way that we can relate to everything, just laying it out for us and making things simpler. I think that's helping us a lot."
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Do you feel like you're coming in with a little more motivation … I don't want to say more than other guys, but than normal, because of what happened last year and you weren't able to play and now that you're finally able to? "I think I'm definitely playing with a chip on my shoulder. Being able to sit out last year it allowed me to see the game from the outside for once and it just humbled me for one and that I'm out there I'm just anxious and just want to get after it and just be successful."
Wake Forest Nose Guard Nikita Whitlock
How's camp been? What have you seen so far? "A lot of great things from the defense. Everybody's just balling right now. The defense is working hard, [and] working together. We're creating turnovers. We're hitting the holes hard, and the good thing about our defense right now is we have so many people coming back."
"There's not a lot of mistakes going on. There's not a lot of holes there, like 'Who's supposed to be there?'That happened a few times last year. That lost a few games and that could have lost us a few more games, so it's good having defense back that knows what it's doing. When you're hitting a hole you're not second-guessing it and you just get to run through it full-speed, so seeing a lot of that, seeing the DBs step up a lot. I think we've had like three or four picks."
"From the d-line I'm not seeing a lot of pass-rush. We had a few sacks. I've had a few sacks. I want to say some other players have had a few sacks, but not nearly as many as I'd like to see. It's something we're working on, [and] we've got to continue to work on. We've got a few more weeks of camp to go through that and then of course you know every game you learn."
"Every game you learn and you pick up new things, so we've got two weeks of camp and hopefully 16 weeks of playing to learn."
Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro
You've had a lot of defections and injuries in the offensive line. As a receiver when you go out there does it give you pause to know that there's a bunch of young guys on the line? "Probably not as much as Tanner [Price], but I have full confidence in the offensive line. I really like our offensive linemen. They're definitely young, but it's a new group and they have a different attitude than the last three years I've played here with those veteran offensive linemen."
"Losing Steven Chase was definitely a blow to us. He was one of our experienced offensive linemen. [He] played in a lot of games for us, but there's who were also recruited to play football. They'll just have to step up, and I think Coach Himey, he's a great offensive line coach in the short time I've been able to work with him."
"He's going to get those guys ready and those guys know you've got to block. It starts up front, so they've got to pick it up and learn fast and be ready."
Wake Forest running back Josh Harris
Tell me about the competition between you and Orville right now. "It's tough. He's a really good back, so I feel like we're going to push each other and that's obviously going to make us very good."
How difficult was it last season to go through that adversity? "It was tough, but I feel like I wouldn't be the kind of player I am right now to this day if that would not have happened, so I have sat the last few months and rethought the whole thing about how when played Florida State I had the huge run and my coach was saying out and I was like no and then the next play I was hurt, so I feel like that really made my life go down a hole."
"I've had some time to sit back and see that play over and over. It's crazy how that one little thing could have you go this way or that way, so I feel like that has made me work a lot harder on things, because it's one thing to lift weights and try get stronger, but I've really had some time to work on certain things now."
Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price
On the offensive line: "I feel good about this offensive line. They're going against really great competition every day. They face Nikita [Whitlock] and Zach Thompson. It's great competition and it's really helping them to get ready, and as they get a better grasp of the offense and the playbook I think they'll continue to make strides."
You were mature when you got here, but you're more so now, because you're two more years into it. Talk about that. "I think with the quarterback position experience is everything, since I've had a great opportunity to start for these past two years I think I've really matured and grown. My understanding of the game has grown so much in the past two years and hopefully will continue to grow and we'll have another great season and just keep making strides and progressing."
Wake Forest cornerback Chibuikem Okoro
On the secondary: "I'm loving the DBs that we have. Like I've told anybody that's ever asked me about the DBs and the corners that we have this is actually the best group of corners that I've seen since I've been here. No disrespect to any of the corners that came before me, but talent-wise, speed-wise, everything … I'm very fortunate enough to be in that group."
"We're pushing each other. The next wants to top the next guy. It's making us better as individual players and we're also make the defense better and in turn making the team better, so that's the key thing we're focusing on is making Wake Forest better."
Is this a fun group? Are you guys enjoying this first week and a half as a team? "Yes, well it's always fun and then at times it kind of boils down to they're taking our sleep away … this is camp. Your body gets sore and all that, but it's camp. It's only going to get harder from here."
Wake Forest secondary coach Tim Duffie
When you talk about the defensive backfield that's important obviously, so how important is it to get some pressure from the front seven? "Well, I think it's important, but I also think it's very important for us to be in a position to cover guys to give the front seven a chance to rush. I think a lot of people get it out of perspective when they say well they threw it all day. Well if you cover them a little longer Nikita would've came free and we could've gotten there. We work hand-in-hand."
"All I know is we've got enough playmakers up front if we do what we're supposed to do in the secondary we'll get more pressure on the quarterback, but we've got to stay on top of routes and not blow any coverages just to give those guys a chance to rush the passer and that's what we like to do and when we need to add some pressure we're good enough out on the edge to add an extra guy if we can't get there [if] they're max-protecting us. I like who we've got up front. I think we're good enough. It's just going to be a matter of can we can execute what we're trying to do defensively."
How would you describe your style and your demeanor as a coach? "That's interesting … I think I'm just me. I don't try to change. I just be myself. I'm very competitive. I have a standard of what's right and what's wrong. That's what we try to coach. I think my motto is either you're coaching it or you're allowing it to happen, so I'm kind of a result-oriented guy. I never blame the kid from the standpoint of we're not getting it done and it's always my fault, but big on effort."
"I don't care what your athletic ability is, but I think it's a choice to go full-speed every day. You're not going to be a 100-percent every day, especially eight days into camp. You're probably a little sore, probably a little tight, but I know there's a couple of teams down the road that are getting better today and we've got to go to work."
Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
You haven't had much time, but from what you've seen so far are you satisfied with the way the kids came back? "Yeah, absolutely. My disappointment is that Steven [Chase] got hurt, and he got hurt in really a non-contact drill and shouldn't have. That's my only disappointment. Everything else is great. Our kids are flying around. They've got good effort. They're working hard."
"[They're] a little bit behind mentally. In about four days we had our entire offense installed, and that's a lot of stuff, a lot of different things, a lot of moving parts in that."
"Defensively we put a whole bunch of different stuff in. Now, we won't do it all when we play our season. We pick and choose things each week that we want to work on, but right now we've got about everything known to man on both sides of the ball package-wise."
"I'm pleased with where we are. Our biggest issue right now is we're making so many mental mistakes right now, but I've never been in a year where we weren't in that situation this time of year."
A question that you're going to be asked a lot and you'll probably get tired of hearing it is the offensive line that seems to be where your lack of experience is going to be based on your team. What have you seen so far that gives you hope that they're going to be okay there? "That we've got good players, really good players. We've got a really talented group of offensive linemen and we've got the right guy coaching them."
"I think [Jonathan] Himebauch is doing a great job. He's demanding out of them, like they should be perfect right now, and that's what you need. They're going out and getting every bit of energy he can out of them each day. At the end of the day they all look like death eating on a cracker. They're all working hard, and if they haven't gotten it right he keeps them late to work them out there."
"That's what I'm encouraged with. We've got the talent to do it. We don't have great experience with a lot of these young guys, but it's the best-looking group of offensive linemen. We've had some individual guys obviously guys like [Tyson] Clabo, [Steve] Vallos and [Steve] Justice have been great players for us, but as a group this is the best-looking group and the most talented group of offensive linemen we've had since we've been here. It's just a matter of how quickly we can get them to grow up. I think Coach Himebauch is on that. He's making them grow fast."
How's Tanner looking? "Really good, really good … Better than last year, much further along than he was this time last year, which is kind of a good thing. We're doing a lot of things right now, doing a lot of reads and him think a little bit."
"I think everything with Tanner is consistency and really doing a better job of hitting the touch stuff. He's got the big arm and once in a while that hurts him on some little dinky delays, take a little off of it. Sometimes it comes in there pretty hot. I think he's certainly got a lot of room for improvement, but he's much further along today than he was this time last year."