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August 29, 2012

Jim Grobe

MIKE FINN:  We're joined by Coach Grobe of Wake Forest.  We'll take an opening statement from coach and then ask for questions.
COACH GROBE:  I think we've got a good football team in Liberty coming in this week.  I know Turner and his staff, a veteran staff, will do a great job.  We will have a challenge.
We've had a pretty good summer camp.  Have a few guys banged up right now.  I think this is a season that starts out with a lot of question marks, a lot of young guys, we need to find out who some of these guys are at these positions.
Overall I like the athleticism of this football team, the attitude of this football team.  I'm not sure what we're going to look like Saturday night.  I think as we go forward, this is a football team that has a potential to be a good team.
MIKE FINN:  Questions for Coach Grobe.

Q.  You mentioned Turner, his experience.  Considering it is a brand‑new staff to this school, how does that complicate your game planning?
COACH GROBE:  It gives us a problem, there's no question about that.  I think they had a little bit different mentality offensively at Buffalo than they did at Kansas, so we've kind of had to prepare for a couple different types of offenses.  Then defense, a little bit of the same stuff.  I think we saw some 3‑4 stuff at Kansas.  But I think they're also committed to being a 4‑3 team.  We saw that at Buffalo.
It's made us prepare for a lot of different things that you wouldn't like to have to do.  You would rather have a better feel for what you're going to see in the opener.  That's just the way it is.  We're going to have to prepare for a lot of things, hopefully be able to play well Saturday night.

Q.  How do you try to prepare for them?  It's almost like you have to look at what Kansas did last year, some of the other coaches' tapes.
COACH GROBE:  We've certainly looked at Buffalo and we've looked at some of the tape from Kansas.  We've also looked at some of the places that some of their coaches have been besides Buffalo and Kansas.  We've actually tried to be students.  We've had to do our homework trying to figure out what we might see.
So I think it's a problem because you're trying to figure out what their real bread and butter is going to be and you're not really sure.  You kind of end up being a jack of all trades.  That's not what you'd rather do as a coach.  You'd rather hone in on stopping their best stuff.
I'm sure every coach is concerned in their opening because of personnel changes.  We've tried to look at Liberty tape just to figure out what the talent is going to be, who is playing, who is back, get an idea of extension and weaknesses there.
I think every year when your talent changes, your mentality, even if you're a veteran staff that has been around for a while, you may still come in with some wrinkles because you're trying to utilize your talent as best you can.
I'm sure we're going to be spending a lot of time on the grease boards on the sidelines Saturday night.

Q.  What would you consider is your greatest challenge heading into this fall season?
COACH GROBE:  I think getting our offensive line squared away.  I like some of our skill guys.  I think when you bring a veteran quarterback back, you feel good about that.  I've got a little better comfort zone with our runningbacks right now than I did in spring practice.
I think our wide receiver positions, if we can get them healthy, I think we've got some guys that we can throw the football to.
But I think the key is going to be can we get them blocked up front.  We want to try to be a better running football team this year.  That means you have to have guys coming off the football.  With Tanner, with a quarterback that can throw the football, the key is can you protect him.
I think going into the season from an offensive perspective, that's the key.
I think defensively what we're looking at is we've got some pretty athletic guys that can run to the football.  A lot of them are young guys.  It's going to be interesting to see how we can develop that side of the ball.
I like our ability level on the defensive side of the ball, but we've got some young guys that are going to blow a gasket once in a while.  We have to try to limit that.

Q.  Who would you consider as your most talented player that is currently flying under the radar?
COACH GROBE:  Well, I don't know that we've got anybody right now that's deserving of national attention.  The guy that we need to come back for us is Josh Harris.  He's a kid that has done some really good things over a couple years in select games as a redshirt freshman and redshirt sophomore.  But he's had injury issues since he's been here, especially last year with a bad hamstring.
Josh is somebody that has probably pretty much been forgotten about but should start for us Saturday night.  I think if we can keep him healthy, he's kind of a guy that can do some really good things for us if we get some people blocked.

Q.  Speaking of getting them blocked up front, you talked at Media Day about Frank Souza, how he looked, and is going to start for you just after learning this position over the summer.  My question is, how did he catch on as quickly as he did to be able to win a starting job?
COACH GROBE:  He's one of the stronger players on our football team.  Strength is not a problem for him.  Where he was maybe not quite as quick at the nose guard position as Nikita Whitlock, his quickness stood out of the he's a very athletic kid.  I think he's got a long ways to go.  He's not where he needs to be.
We see Frank as a guy, as we go through the season, he still once in a while doesn't draw a beat on the right blocking assignment, once in a while his fundamentals are not as good as they should be.  We're talking about a guy that has played defense pretty much his whole life.
What we like about Frank is he's an aggressive guy and he's very coachable.  He's a guy that we think, as we go forward, I know he's going to have some growing pains early, but we think athletically he's a guy that can be a really good offensive lineman.  He just hasn't done it yet.

Q.  Jim, having coached in this area before, is it amazing for you to look at Liberty and see the growth of that program?
COACH GROBE:  Yeah, absolutely.  It's been really impressive.  They've just continued to grow, improve the program.  The facilities are amazing what they've done in that sense.  I thought Danny Rocco did a really good job with them.  They've had some good coaches.  Now to be able to bring Turner in, some of the assistants he's been able to put together is really, really impressive.
It's obvious, they're very aggressive about football and on the right path.

Q.  I think you were 6‑0 on your coaching staff against FCS opponents.  What has been the key to selling your guys to take these games seriously and not letting up against opponents like that?
COACH GROBE:  From our standpoint, we feel like anybody can win a first game.  We usually opened ‑ not every time ‑ but we've usually opened with an FCS opponent.  A couple times we've played them later in the year.
I think the key is to realize everybody's got good players and everybody's well‑coached out there.  Our guys are pretty smart guys at Wake Forest.  They look around, even last year, FBS schools were upset by FCS schools.  I'm not sure sometimes it's even an upset.  There are a lot of great teams out there that are at the FCS level.
I think we try to get our players to realize anybody we're playing is capable of beating us, and certainly we've got great respect for Liberty.  I think basically we've been able to drive home in the past that you better respect everybody you play 'cause there's not anybody on our schedule that doesn't have really good players.

Q.  Noel, he has a hamstring.  What's his status right now?
COACH GROBE:  I think his status is okay.  We have to be careful with him because he's a good player.  He wanted to practice yesterday.  They wouldn't let him practice.  It wasn't a deal where he couldn't.  I guess it's a hamstring.  It's kind of the insertion, right at the back of his knee.  He was just running Monday night.  We had him returning kickoffs.  He was running up the field, kind of stumbled and fell down.  Didn't seem to be a big deal at the time.  He popped up and walked off with no problems.  Yesterday seemed to be a little sore.  But I think he was better.  We're just going to be careful.  But I think he'll be fine.

Q.  What makes him such a dynamic player?
COACH GROBE:  He likes it.  I think that's the key.  He loves the game.  Everything that he does that has competition as part of it he gets fired up for.  You don't find a lot of guys like him because he enjoys the competition in practice.  He's not a bad drill guy, he's good in the weight room, all those kind of things, but when it really becomes offense against defense and him against a wideout, those type things, that's when he just lights up.  You can just tell he enjoys every bit of competition.  I think that's what makes him a really good football player.

Q.  Your quarterback, one of the top returners in the league, what makes him such an efficient quarterback?
COACH GROBE:  Well, he takes care of the football, first and foremost.  I think he's got a great commitment to the team.  I think once in a while you get quarterbacks that are willing to put the ball into a crowd just to hopefully get another completion or a big play out of it.
I don't think Tanner cares one bit about stats.  There's a lot of times where he feels like the window's not very good and will throw it away, throw it in the dirt, not worrying about his completion percentage or his numbers as much as just not turning the football over.
I think he's a guy that every time he takes the field I think he takes his commitment to taking care of the football very seriously.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, thanks for being with us today.  Good luck this weekend and we'll talk to you next weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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