Nov. 8, 2007
On Wake Forest’s growing program under Head Coach Jim Grobe: “I think it is two things, the 85 limitation on scholarships and Jim Grobe. He’s a good coach, and by that I mean he takes players and does things that give them a chance to be successful. Like their offense, there is a lot of misdirection and trickery with play-action passes deep. Defensively, he’s hired a good staff. They play extremely hard. They are sound and challenge short throws and pressure you. They’re well-coached and they have good players.
We recruited some of those players that wouldn’t come here. He seems to be very humble. His team plays well. He is well respected in the coaching profession. I know our fans have finally accepted that because this is the first sellout ever (in a game against Wake Forest). Our fans have finally realized that this is a good team with a good coach. My respect for him came mostly when I went up there one year (2003) and got beat so bad and he could have put a lot more (points) on us, but he didn’t.”
On Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner: “He’s a very productive player. He’s one of those guys that went wasn’t recruited that much. Charlie Whitehurst wasn’t heavily recruited and neither was Cullen Harper. He (Skinner) is a little more mobile than both of those guys. He’s throwing for 73%. He’s a very accurate thrower. He has a lot of composure. He’s productive and they put him in a position to make a lot of plays. He doesn’t buckle under pressure at all.”
On how Clemson will respond to the division title race: “I don’t think our team sees it as pressure. We’re going to try to put pressure on them at practice with a sense of urgency. Today’s practice will be where we show new schemes and wrinkles going in on offense and defense. The pressure will be today. I would think most coaches would try to put pressure on their players on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They have to play loose on Saturday. I think they understand the significance of a win on Saturday, but the pressure is on me and the staff.”
On Wake Forest and its division title hopes: “They are the reigning (league) champions and you have an opportunity to repeat. So there are some advantages to that from an experience standpoint. They’re very accustomed to close games and winning them. They play with an edge, and I think that is one of the reasons they’re successful. The champions usually don’t give the trophy back, you’ve got to take the trophy.”
On Wake Forest’s defense: “They challenge throws. They play us a little tighter in their coverage. You might be able to get some double cuts on them, but their rush is pretty intense. I think when you play hard you become opportunistic, because they’re going to the ball. So, they get a lot of turnovers (ACC high 25 forced by the Wake Forest defense). The more guys you have around the ball, your opportunities increase, whether it’s a fumble or a deflection.”
On Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn: “He’s 6’2”, 220 pounds. He’s like a linebacker, but plays safety. They put him in positions like NFL teams do and now many colleges are starting to do that. He’s like Michael Hamlin in some ways. The safeties are glorified linebackers in certain defenses. It doesn’t surprise me that he would be one of their top tacklers. He’s a big, physical guy.”
On Wake Forest kick returner Kevin Marion: “We’re going to have a plan. We talked about him this morning and I talked to the team yesterday. You don’t want to fear anybody, but you respect everybody. We had a tremendous amount of respect for Devin Hester when he was at Miami. We kicked away from him (in 2004) and we won the game. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for their punt returner and kick returner, and I think our coverage will give them respect. We have several things we plan on doing.
You have to have a little more courage when you’re returning the ball. (Former Clemson kick returner) Justin Miller was fearless. Marion is fearless and has good vision.”
On playing at noon: “I prefer the early game because of downtime. Sunday is a hard work day. It’s a long season and you prefer your staff to be as fresh as possible. I think the crowd will be fairly electric because Wake Forest is the reigning champions. This is the first time that the Wake Forest game has been sold out (at Clemson).”
On Wake Forest’s offense: “Their offensive coordinator does a really good job calling the plays. Both of their coordinators are really good. Coach Grobe has delegated authority to both of those guys. The fact that you really only see this kind of offense once a year, it’s the execution and knowledge as well.”
On the difference in Clemson wide receiver Aaron Kelly: “Experience has been the difference. He’s a very conscientious guy and he’s a serious player. He does have some talent, but again, he’s a fourth-year junior, and I think experience has been the biggest thing. Cullen (Harper) is very accurate and has helped him.”
On Clemson’s offensive line: “Their knockdowns and cut blocks have increased dramatically. Thomas Austin had the most the last two weeks with 12 or 12.5, which is a lot. A lot of it has to do with experience and the comfort zone with the offense, making calls, and knowing who you are blocking with no hesitation or indecision. A lot of it comes with the addition of Thomas Austin at center. Barry Humphries is doing a good job at right guard. And Barry Richardson has played like an All-American the last two weeks.”
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