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November 19, 2014

Dave Clawson

DAVE CLAWSON:  We need to bounce back after playing poorly last weekend at NC State.  Credit to NC State, they really had a good plan, executed well.  And we certainly didn't play to the level we needed to to make the game competitive and give ourselves a chance to win.
We look forward to being back at home this Saturday.  It will be our last home game.  It's our Senior Day.  It's always emotional, anytime guys are playing their last game at home, and it's against a good Virginia Tech football team.  We had a great game last week against Duke.  We look forward to Saturday and hopefully get our guys ready.  We need to play better than we did a week ago.

Q.  I wanted to ask you first of all your corners, your veteran corners, how good have they been for you this year, and how important have they been in that defense? 
DAVE CLAWSON:¬† They've been critically important.¬† We've been pretty solid this year on defense, with the exception of the last game.¬† And a lot of it just has to do with those two corners.¬† They allow us to do a lot of things in terms of our blitz game, in terms of out numbering the box.¬† We can't put those guys on island and they hold up very well.¬† So they're both four‑year starters.¬† They've been very productive players over their career here.¬† They're really good players.¬† We'll certainly miss those two.

Q.¬† This week you face a couple of young wide receivers, true freshmen.¬† What do you see from that group and how much of an advantage that you've got a couple of four‑year starters going against these kind of young kids.
DAVE CLAWSON:  Well, we certainly feel good about our corners, but these guys make good plays against other teams, and certainly the Ford kid I think is going to be outstanding.  He had a great catch last week against Duke on a difficult ball.  The Cam Phillips kid is going to be a really good player.  And the one tight end, Malleck is a really good blocker, but the Hodges kid, they use him like a receiver at times.  And that was the big touchdown catch a week ago against Duke, and he made a well thought out play and it was executed perfect, and got hit in stride for a touchdown.  That really was the game winner.
They've got good, young players.  Besides ourselves, this is the next youngest team that we've seen this year, with the amount of juniors and seniors on the two deep.  So they're improving, which will happen with young football teams.  They're outstanding in their defense.
On offensive they've scored over 30 points in over half their games, and we have yet to score 30 points this year.  We're going to have to limit that, cut down on big plays and hopefully generate enough offensive that we can keep this thing as a low score game.

Q.  They also have that wild cat package this weekend, they have the back up quarterback.  How much time do you spend preparing for a package like that?
DAVE CLAWSON:  It's a part of an offensive that almost all teams have now.  There's very few teams that don't have a wild cat component to their offensive.  It's certainly something we have to spend time on, something we have to defend.  But I would say over half the weeks this year we've been presented with that dilemma.  It's part of coaching defensive football in 2014.

Q.  I know that we had talked a little bit in the past about your rushing attack if you've seen any improvement with some of the areas that they've been working on that their abilities in the back field, if you have been able to see them grow this season so far?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Yeah, I think those guys are a young line.  But if you just take our rush go yards.  If they didn't take sack yards and those type of plays against your rushing total we've actually rushed the ball better the last three weeks.  The problem is we've taken some sacks.  But if you just say every time we have a called run to a tailback, we're certainly not good.  We're not nearly as bad as we were at the beginning of the year.  So we are making progress.  It seems like every week there's another coach of the moment.
The hard thing is when you're a freshman, every mistake you learn on your own.  And if you have depth of running back, if even a junior and a sophomore ahead of those guys, they're red shirting or they're learning and they're seeing other people make mistakes, when they get their chance hopefully they don't make.  Every missed cut, every rotation they don't see in protection, they're making these mistakes on their own and they're learning it the hard way.
But they're continuing to compete.  They're continuing to practice better.  We're making baby steps, but they're certainly better now than they were three and now weeks ago.

Q.  Looking at your special teams little bit, Armstrong and his ability to return the ball, and just what it has done for you.  I feel like special teams more often than not don't get talked about is about how important it is, what can you say about Armstrong?
DAVE CLAWSON:  Last year was his best week.  If you look at where we are at special teams, that is our worst unit right now.  Right now we're at the top, if not near the top, in every other special team category.  Whether it's net punt, punt return, kickoff coverage.  Our kickoff return unit right now is the worst in the ACC.  We definitely took a step forward last week.  That was the best day we had had returning kicks last year.  Johnny is back here for the first time.  Our primary returner got injured in the Florida State game is has not been back all year, so it's a new role for Johnny.  He's made some poor decisions handling the football back there, but I think every week he gets more comfortable with it.  And like I said, last week he had his best week returning kicks for us.

Q.  You've been in the rebuilding situations before.  You talked about the progress your young guys are making, baby steps.  How significant would it be going into the off season, how different would it be to get a win on one of these last two days as opposed to ending the season on a long losing streak.  Would it make a difference in the off season approach?
DAVE CLAWSON:¬† A little bit.¬† I don't think huge.¬† We certainly want to win these last two games.¬† And I think that feeling of walking off the field with your last win at home or your last game of the year is always a positive one.¬† Regardless of whether that happens or not, we know what our issues are.¬† We know what our problems are, and we know how we're going to address it.¬† That won't change whether we finish 2‑10 or 4‑8.¬† Our deficiencies right now are our deficiencies.¬† And we've got to address them with our off season program.¬† And we've got to address them in recruiting.
Having said that, to have noticeable improvement, we have two very good football teams coming up.  To play that perfect game that we execute well and we see improvement and to find a way to beat a good football team, I certainly think we have the confidence of our football team heading to off season and to spring football.

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