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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 24, 2014


Dave Clawson


COACH CLAWSON:  We certainly felt good about our win over Army.  I'm proud of how we came back in the fourth quarter.  We did a lot of little things right in terms of not beating ourselves, being more efficient in the red zone, limiting turnovers.  It was a good home win in front of a homecoming crowd.
I think we've got some confidence from that.¬† We had a good practice yesterday.¬† We've got to really raise up our level with who the opponent is this week.¬† Louisville is an excellent football team.¬† Their total defense and rushing defense, best in the ACC, among the best in the country.¬† On offense they have a lot of explosive play‑makers.¬† We'll have a great challenge heading up there on the road this Saturday.

Q.  You talked about Louisville a little bit.  What are you seeing on film, what do you think are going to be some of those big challenges this weekend?
COACH CLAWSON:  Well, number one, just trying to block their front.  They've got some very big, physical players.  Their defensive front is excellent.  It's an older group.  A couple of seniors.  A few juniors.  They're very physical, they're big, they're explosive.  They play very well with their hands.  They get off of blocks.  We've been a team that struggled to run the football consistently this year.  That is going to be a challenging matchup for us.
Even in the back end, I think they've got some good corners, some very active safeties.  On offense, they're very explosive.  I mean, the two tailbacks are excellent players.  They had the big injury at receiver, but some of those guys have really stepped up for them.  The Quick kid had a great game for them last week and made big plays.
They're extremely well‑coached on offense and put you in some real run‑pass dilemmas.¬† If you don't play things correctly, they make you pay.

Q.  As far as your running game, you said you struggled to run the football this season.  What have you addressed in practice?  Do you see it elevating and getting better?  Who do you think is doing well as far as practice goes heading into this game?
COACH CLAWSON:  We ran it better last week than we had the previous three.  I certainly think we're improving.  I mean, it starts up front, making sure we're not cutting people loose, not allowing penetration in the backfield, allowing the ball to at least get to the line of scrimmage.
Isaiah Robinson, our true freshman tailback, played well last week.  He got the majority of the carries.  Orville Reynolds, who is our senior, had a few nice runs, too.
I think it's just a matter of staying consistent.  We're year one of building a program.  We want to get good at the things that not only we want to do this year but going into the future.  Every day we go out there and continue to work on those fundamentals and those base plays, we'll get better at them.
Obviously who you play, the quality of the opponent, has an impact on how well you execute.  That's where the challenge is this week.  They've got some very, very talented players in their defensive front.  They play hard.  When you watch them on film, they're getting penetration, getting off blocks on good people.  That will be a big challenge for us.

Q.  Dave, curious if you and Bobby Petrino bonded, got together at all, being the two new faces in this conference this year?  How has the ACC integrated you into the new fraternity?  Do you have any kind of relationship?
COACH CLAWSON:  We'll find out the next eight weeks (laughter).
But I had never met Coach Petrino before.  At the ACC meetings, I think it was the first meeting, we ended up sitting next to each other.  I mean, his résumé certainly speaks for itself.  He's one of the winningest coaches in the country.  He's won everywhere he's been.  The work that he's done with quarterbacks and runningbacks and offenses speaks for itself.
Again, he's obviously a very bright person, and he certainly knows what he's doing.

Q.  About Louisville's defense, when you look at the secondary, what really stands out in terms of their pass coverage?  What has really allowed them to be so successful with seven interceptions through four games?
COACH CLAWSON:  They're just very active.  I mean, the one corner, Gaines, he can do it all.  He can press you, he can play off, he can support the run.  The other corner, Johnson, is a very good player as well.  The Holliman kid had a huge game for them last week, made some big plays.
They're just a very veteran group.  Johnson is a senior.  Sample is a junior.  Holliman is a junior.  Floyd is a senior.  Gaines is a junior.  Those guys are smart football players and they take good angles to the football, they anticipate throws.  The fact that their front is so good forces a lot of teams to throw the ball before they're ready.
That game last week really turned on a pick.  They got good pressure.  They got a pick six, then the route was on.
They're just solid across the board.  They have some guys in that lineup that will, I'm sure, be playing on Sundays.

Q.¬† At what point in the pre‑season did you feel that Isaiah Robinson might be able to help you this year?¬† Is his power and strength what kind of surprises people a little bit?
COACH CLAWSON:  Well, when he got here, I mean, he weighs a lot less now than even when he got here.  When he got here in the summer, I don't think he was in the best of shape.  The conditioning was very hard for him.  To his credit, he kept working, kept pushing himself.  He's probably dropped 20, 25 pounds since he got here in the summer.
Some backs are natural.  You can tell he has played back for a long time.  He anticipates cuts.  He has good vision.  He has the ability to lower his pads.  He's also done a very nice job for us in protection.  There's times he's really put his foot in the ground and punched linebackers, maybe a defensive lineman coming off on a twist.  There's some shock power there.
The Utah State game was the first game he played significant carries.  He looked like a freshman playing his first game.  Last week he really played much better.  He's a guy that just gets better and better every week.

Q.¬† Coach, you're talking about the one‑game improvement that Isaiah made.¬† You're starting with a true freshman quarterback.¬† Can you talk about his progression over four games.¬† Is that enough time to see progress as he learns?
COACH CLAWSON:  I mean, it's ongoing, though.  Right now we've got a true freshman quarterback, a true freshman center, a true freshman tight end, a freshman tailback, a bunch of guys on defense that are freshmen, too.
Their learning curve right now is so steep.  When you play young guys like that, there's ups and downs.  The ups are easy.  The downs are when those guys really got to push themselves.
These guys were all very good players in high school.  That's why they're at Wake Forest and in the ACC.  There's not a lot of adversity those guys have had on a football field certainly the last half of their high school career.
Now they're going against better players, new schemes, more complicated.¬† It's just that day‑to‑day process of coming to practice every day, being focused, working hard, the matter of the accumulation of repetitions allow them to become better players.¬† The more they're doing it, the more they're reacting, the less they're thinking.
We have 14 freshmen in our two‑deep.¬† Every day we go out to practice, call a base zone play, call our base defense, those are extremely valuable reps for those guys.¬† The game reps are even more valuable.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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