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October 1, 2014

Dave Clawson

DAVE CLAWSON:  Obviously we have a huge challenge this week, playing the defending national champions and the No.1 team in the country.  They're talented, experienced, very well‑coached, and they're just an excellent football team with really no weaknesses.  We're going to have to play extremely well and play our best football game to be competitive.
But our players look forward to the challenge, and this is one of the reasons why you come to Wake Forest is to play in games like this, and we look forward to getting down there and competing.

Q.  With regards to John Wolford, what is it about‑‑ he's had struggles, he's done some good things, but what is it about his makeup, the way he carries himself mentally perhaps that gives you the most optimism that this young man is going to be a pretty good quarterback for an awful long time for your program?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Well, I think it's two things.  Number one, it's just certainly how he's handled himself since he's been here, his matured, his courage, his poise, his presence, how serious he takes football and how much he desires to be a great player, and then the second thing is when we have protected and gotten open, he's been really good.  People say a quarterback struggles, but guys can't do it alone, and when you throw the ball successfully there's certainly three components to it, and that's you've got to protect, you've got to get open, and then you have to deliver the football.  When we've been able to protect and get open, he's been very accurate and very efficient.  Again, he's competed very hard under I think difficult circumstances for any quarterback.

Q.  Has John accomplished enough with the early sacks in the early part of the season to give you the confidence that he can take what a defense like FSU can dish out and get back up and keep going?

Q.  There's nothing about Saturday that's going to intimidate him?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Yeah, I mean, he's a freshman playing in his sixth game ever since the defending national champions.  I mean, that's I think a tall order if we had a fifth‑year senior quarterback.  But every moment and every game and every practice that he goes through I think only helps him and makes him better.
Again, he's very even keeled.  He stays within the rep, and he stays within the practice.  I think those are things that help you when you play a game like this, that what he can do is execute his position and go through his progressions and make sure that we're in the right plays, and that's what he controls, and that's what we coach, and that's what he I think has done a very good job of is always staying in the moment.

Q.  Just wanted to‑‑ I know you talked about it being a tall order going up against Florida State, and just looking at your team and what you feel they've done up to this point to be ready for a game like this, maybe some leadership that you've seen stand up or whatever you've seen going into this game that you feel gives you that opportunity to go up against the top of the top and come out with a victory?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Well, again, our guys every game I think if you watch the film, they've competed.  They play hard.  They've played with great effort.  At times we're overmatched and we'll have some tough match‑ups this week across the board.  But all you can do is compete like crazy and prepare the very best you can, and our guys have done that week in, week out.
If your guys are playing hard, that's the most important thing, and all those other things we can coach, but right now our guys are giving us great effort, and we need to continue to do that.
Again, it is a tall order.  They are an excellent football team, but they're also a very experienced team.  They have 128 combined offensive line starts, and if you throw in the tight end, there's 157 starts among their front six on offense, and they're good football players.  We've got some younger guys that are going to be playing on a big stage like this, and certainly the experience last week helped us, but this right now is one of the, if not the elite program in the country, so it'll be a great measuring stick game for us.

Q.  I know you talked about Wolford, but on your offense some of the other guys that you feel like have really stepped up for you, not just in the field but in the locker room, as well, to try and lead this team moving forward, who you've seen really take that leadership role besides Wolford?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Yeah, well, certainly some guys up front with competing really hard, Cory Helms, our one guard, and Josh Harris are both playing hard.  We're playing a true freshman center, we're playing two freshman tight ends, and both of those guys have done a nice job and are getting better every week.  Our fifth‑year transfer receiver EJ Scott and Jared Crump, sophomore receiver, been very steady, very consistent players for us.  As a coach you look for those work habits day in, day out in practice; how often are those guys coming up and watching film and preparing themselves.  Those guys are doing a great job with that stuff.  They're working at it and they care about football, and they want to be better, and that's what we need right now.  We need a bunch of guys that continue to invest to help us turn this program.

Q.  You guys have got three defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown already this season, and I was just wondering, does that have more to do with the bounce of the ball or is that something you guys work on, prepare for, and how do you create those kind of opportunities?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Well, we certainly‑‑ it's something we work on every day in practice, constantly on defense we are doing different drills and different circuits to create ball disruptions, whether it's tipping a pass, stripping the football, trying to dislodge a ball that's thrown to a receiver, and the more times that you can get the ball loose, the more opportunities you have to get turnovers.  Again, I think we do a good job coaching that stuff.  I think our defensive staff really emphasizes it, and we've certainly had some benefits from it this year.

Q.  How much does having some veterans, especially in your secondary, play into that?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Well, it helps a lot.  In the secondary right now, you look at it, we start I think a total of seven seniors, and three of them are in our secondary.  Florida State by contrast, they start 11 seniors, so half of their starting lineup is seniors, and we've got about seven for us.  Our secondary is where most of their experience is.  Those two corners have both started 30 plus games.  The safety, Wooding, has played a lot of football for us, and when you're experienced back there, you can be a little bit more multiple on defense because those guys know the rotations and they know the cover downs and the blitz game.  They know where the rotations are and where the hot receivers are and all those things.  Those have allowed us to be probably a lot more multiple on defense than we can be on offense right now.

Q.  Is your defense at all ahead of where you thought it was going to be at this point in the season, and what's kind of your key to this defense to try to keep you in the game this week?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Yeah, I mean, if you follow us, I've said it from the first spring practice, we're clearly much further ahead on defense than we are on offense, and again, we recognized that the second we got here.  We had over half the starters returning from the No.32 defense in the country, and we practically graduated everybody from the 118th offense in the country.  There's certainly more of a base on defense right now that we could build around, where offense it's almost all brand new.  It's a new quarterback, it's a new center, it's a new tailback, it's new receivers.  It's really almost a brand new offensive line with the exception of really one or two guys, and even some of those guys are playing in different positions.
Our formula to be successful this year would have to be play good defense, create turnovers, be great in the kicking game, and we've got to be opportunistic on offense, and that's really what hurt us last week is we had at times the ball in the red zone and didn't come up with points, and if we are going to play the defensive turnover special teams game, when we get the ball in the red zone on offense, we've got to capitalize, and the games we've done that we've been successful, and the games we haven't, we're not successful.

Q.  Tylor Harris had three fumble recoveries, one of which he not only stripped the ball and then fell on it and recovered it for a touchdown.  Have you ever been around a player who's had a game quite like that, a defensive player?
DAVE CLAWSON:  No.  I think he might have set an NCAA record, I think, for that.  I've never seen that before.  Our defense did a good job of dislodging the ball and Tylor was in the right place at the right time, and to his credit he came up with all three of them.  That was certainly one of the positives from last week and a major reason why we were able to stay in that football game.

Q.  When he's not making the spectacular plays like that, how is he just plugging up the middle at nose tackle?  What do you look for him to do on a play by play basis?
DAVE CLAWSON:  I'll tell you what, he's been one of the pleasant surprises of the season.  Really we did not even have him pegged to start this year.  Johnny Garcia was going to start for us, and Tylor was probably going to be the third guy rolling in there, and then when Johnny tore his ACL in camp, he had to step up, and to his credit, he's played well.  He's played with effort.  He's been disruptive.  Obviously the fumble recoveries were big for us, but he's been certainly one of our most pleasant surprises, not just on defense but across the board as a football team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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