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October 17, 2012

Jim Grobe

MIKE FINN:  We welcome Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe.
We'll bring on coach, ask for a brief opening statement, then go to questions.
COACH GROBE:  Thanks, Mike.
We had an open date this past weekend.  I think that was good for us.  We probably had maybe as many as a handful of kids that wouldn't have been able to play last Saturday from injury.  Hopefully we'll get those kids healthy.  Looks like we're going to have a few of them back, maybe all of them back, for Virginia.  We'll see.
We're looking forward to playing again.
MIKE FINN:  Questions for Coach Grobe.

Q.  Saturday's game at Virginia marks the beginning of the second half of the season for your team.  In what areas would you like to see improvement and who have been the positive impact players for your team?
COACH GROBE:  From our standpoint, certainly we'd like to be more consistent in all areas:  offense, defense and kicking game.  Our kicking game has been really spotty.  We've had some good things and some bad things.
I think offensively we've been throwing the football a lot.  We just haven't been a good throw‑catch team.  Part of that is our offensive line has been so banged up, it's been tough to protect.
Defensively throughout the year we've shown flashes here and there.  But I think the biggest thing for us is just consistency.  We'd like to be a more consistent team throughout the second half.
We have Nikita Whitlock back.  He played pretty good against Maryland.  He was hurt for most of the season.  Got healthy against Maryland.  We'd like to see him continue.  He's a key guy for us.  On the offensive side of the ball, we have to have Tanner Price play better.  Around him we've had so many injuries to the offensive line and wide receiver position, it's affected him the past couple times out.  We got to get over that.  We have to just take care of business.
When you got a good player that has a lot of guys around him hurt, he's got to be dependable and consistent.  I think what we're looking for Saturday, we need Tanner to be more consistent, too.

Q.  Jim, have you been struck by the infrequency of your games with Virginia over the years?  Obviously it has to do with the two divisions in the ACC, but you haven't played up there in five years.
COACH GROBE:  Yeah, it's hard.  We had the same problem with North Carolina.  When we went over to play at North Carolina last year in Chapel Hill, we lost something.  We just didn't have the same spark that you normally do playing the Tar Heels.  We lost over there, then we kind of got our minds right and got a win over here this year.
It's hard when you don't play conference teams every year.  It's been a long time.  I think Virginia is a great game for Wake Forest to play.  We're very similar academically, that kind of stuff.  I think it's a game I wish we played more often.  But I think expansion has been good for our league, good for our schools.  But it is a problem.  When we go five years before we play Virginia, that seems strange to me.

Q.  Personally do you like to go up there, having played up there and coached up there?  I assume you still have friends up there.  John Walker for one.
COACH GROBE:  John and Tom McGraw, all those guys, they're my buddies.  You know what I'm going to say.  I'd love to come back, see old friends, have a homecoming type deal.  To come back and have to play makes it tough.  It's more of a business trip than anything else.
I loved my time at Virginia.  I loved the people there.  That was one of the really special times in my life was going to the University of Virginia, staying on, having a chance to be a graduate assistant with the football program.
But going back up there now, I wish I could kind of relax and enjoy it.  But we got a lot of work to do to get a chance to win.

Q.  Will Sonny be up there?
COACH GROBE:  You know, he typically would be.  He's probably not going to make this one.  He's having some problems health‑wise right now, not anything he's not going to get over, but he's having some problems with his back right now I think.  I think coach probably won't make this one, but he'll certainly be there in spirit.
I played for him and coached for him.  He laughs that I got him fired twice as a player and as a coach.  But I think he loves Virginia, too.  It's a tough one.

Q.  You never know how he'll behave on the sideline.
COACH GROBE:  Well, I tell you the good news is, I survived playing for him and I survived coaching for him (laughter).  Now I think he probably wants to see the Deacons win as much as I do, so it's a good thing.

Q.  You mentioned him a little bit, but what is the latest on Campanaro's status?
COACH GROBE:  I think he's healing.  He's probably not healing as fast as he wants to.  He probably would have liked to have been healed for the Maryland game.
I would think Clemson would be a stretch.  I think probably Boston College is a little bit more realistic.  Hopefully by then.  They didn't have to do surgery.  They just casted him.  He just has to heal up.
I think right now I would say we're hoping to have him back by Boston College.  If we got him back for Clemson, it would be a real stretch, I think.

Q.  How good do you think you guys could be at full strength?  At what point do you expect to be that?
COACH GROBE:  Yeah, well, going into the season, you always have some injuries.  That's just part of the game.  The difference for us has been some of our best players have been injured.  Camp is arguably the best player on offense.  We lost Antonio Ford at Maryland.  I think he was our best offensive lineman.  As far as guards and tackles, Garrick Williams.  But guards and tackles, Antonio was the best.  Losing Matt James, he broke his collarbone, won't be back this season, he's out.  Terence Davis separated both shoulders, hasn't had a lot of practice.  That's been his biggest problem.  A lot of guys that we thought were going to be key guys for us have been out for a long period of time or are gone for the season.
We're not going to get them all back together, but certainly I think getting Campanaro back would be huge for us.  If we could stay healthy down the stretch, piecemeal that offensive line back together.  We're in a situation right now with Sherman Ragland down, Campanaro down, Matt James down, Terence Davis being up and down, we just don't have a lot of options to throw the football.  Being a throwing offense, that's not a good thing.

Q.  What are you trying to do to replace Antonio?
COACH GROBE:  We've been blessed because we've had Steven Chase come back from an ACL.  I've never had that happen before.  We have him braced up.  He actually started and played the whole game at Maryland at left tackle.  That gives us a little bit of flexibility.  We took Whit Barnes, our backup center, and put him at guard.  He's kind of the guy that's taken over for Antonio right now.
We're not real deep.  That's our problem.  If we could kind of find five guys that could play these next six games, play all the snaps, at least the lion's share of snaps, we could be okay.  But we really can't afford to lose anybody else.

Q.  The offense seems to be up across the country, hurry up, no‑huddle.  I'm curious to how you see the pendulum switching back with the defenses?
COACH GROBE:  I think from a defensive perspective, I think what it's basically forced you to do is get out of huddling on defense.  You don't see many defenses ever get together and actually huddle anymore.  That's been the biggest change I see.  You basically have to have a call right away and get lined up.
So many of the hurry‑up offenses, they're kind of hurry up.  They're at the line of scrimmage, ready to run a play, then they check with me on the sideline, that's basically looking over and seeing the coach wants to change the play.  Defenses are changing defense.  You made the first call, the offense is called, now you change to try to counter what they're doing.
It's really become, before the snap, a chess game.  In the past I think it was more usual for an offense to call a play, the defense to call a defense, you line up play, do it again.  Now there's a lot of things going on today before the snap of the ball.

Q.  Paul Johnson was saying yesterday, he was talking about the changes they were going to make.  It refers to what you're talking about.  Can you see making sure the guys know what they're doing, can you see that paying dividends?
COACH GROBE:  Yeah, I think in that cat‑and‑mouse game that's being played today, a lot of times the offenses will act like they're changing the call, but they really don't.  They like what they see, they let the kids run the play.  Defensively I think now the game is, are you actually changing to a different defense or are you signaling basically that you're staying in what you got?
I think it's just really a roll of the dice for both sides now.  Eventually if the offenses figure out there's no advantage to trying to hurry at the line of scrimmage, the defense is going to change just as frequently as they change, you may go back to seeing people huddle again.  It all runs in cycles.

Q.  Jim, just wanted some of your thoughts on Virginia.  Obviously you've seen the stat where they've out‑gained their last three opponents and lost all three games.  Do you see any similarities between what the two teams have been going through this season?
COACH GROBE:  Well, I think the thing that's gotten us in the last two games against Duke and Maryland, we didn't win the turnover battle.  We had a chance to win both games, but basically turnovers got us.  I think that's been a problem.  They've had quite a few turnovers offensively compared to the number of turnovers they're getting on defense.
That's kind of a thing, we worked on it all the time.  I'm sure Mike and his guys work on it all the time.  That's kind of the one thing that's hard to control.  Usually if you're putting up really good numbers, which they are offensively, it usually comes back to taking care of the football.

Q.  How about special teams?
COACH GROBE:  I think special teams are a problem for everybody in that what we would like to do, we have very little depth at Wake Forest, I don't know what Mike's situation is, I don't know what the depth deal is for him, but for us at Wake Forest, we have very little depth.  One of the problems we have on special teams is if you just threw out to each coach who's primarily involved with the punt team or the kickoff return team or whatever, they pick all our starters to be on those teams.  The problem is by the fourth quarter you might not have anybody left.
So you've got to balance out.  We typically let our best players go right to the punt team.  Whoever is running the punt team, in our case Derrick Jackson, he gets his pick.  Then it goes to kickoff cover.  If you have a good kicker and a good punter, and if you don't have, they could be the factors.  Typically if your special teams are really good, you've got enough depth that you have enough backup guys playing on those special teams that can get the job done.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, thanks for being with us.  Good luck this weekend.  We'll talk to you next Wednesday.
COACH GROBE:  Mike, thanks.  Y'all be good.

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