Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe spoke with reporters on Tuesday and Wednesday, talking about his team's huge game in Death Valley Saturday afternoon at Clemson.
Although the Demon Deacons are coming off back-to-back losses, they can still win the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division outright if they can knock off Clemson and then beat Maryland the following week in Winston-Salem.
Read Coach Grobe's quotes this week below:
WAKE FOREST HEAD COACH JIM GROBE
Wednesday Opening Statement:
We had a tough loss this past Saturday against Notre Dame. Thought we gave ourselves a chance but couldn't make anything happen late. Had a couple trips to the red zone that we came away with no points, so that was disappointing.
Got another challenge every week. We're playing great teams. Clemson might be the most talented team we've played to date. They're doing a good job coaching them. Death Valley is always a tough place to go, so we know we have our work cut out for us this week.
When you look at the Clemson-Georgia Tech game film, how much can you take away from that?
Well, I think you get ideas. Obviously every game film we watch we try to come up with whether it be coverages or pressures or whatever from the success that other teams have had.
I think the Georgia Tech game is hard to gauge because Georgia Tech was so successful running the wishbone against Clemson and kept the ball away from them. Most of the other games that we've seen, Clemson had a lot of offensive possessions and those were limited against Georgia Tech. We try to watch every game that our opponents play and try to figure out things that might be good to us.
I know through this whole off-season you said you thought you had a better team than you did last year. Did you think you would be playing for the Atlantic Division at this point in Death Valley?
Honestly I didn't think much about it. I really thought we were going to be a better football team, but I knew our schedule was really, really tough. That's our biggest issue right now. We're better, but we're playing so many great teams every week, it's hard to catch your breath sometimes. But I knew we'd be better (this season). I didn't expect that we'd be this late in the season and still have a chance to win the division.
Could you talk about the championship implications. If you win the game, you're in the driver's seat for the division title..........
I think from our standpoint we're just really concerned about the talent that Clemson's got, knowing we're going to face a really well-coached football team, playing them at their place in Death Valley. The championship implications really take a backseat to how talented the team that we're getting ready to play is and the challenge that we've got just playing the game, regardless of the implications.
Can you reflect on what it says after the season you had last year to be in this position in November?
It's a good feeling. We're not happy. We've lost a couple games now. We played poorly over in Chapel Hill. Really played pretty good this past Saturday against a really good Notre Dame football team.
It's nice to have something to play for. Last year we were out of so many games by halftime, so young. We're still a pretty young football team. But it's nice to have something to play for. I think the thing that keeps your feet on the ground is knowing how talented Clemson is.
Jim, in addition to Clemson being really talented, they're also rested and healed up after coming off a bye week. Do you find playing teams off a bye week, do they look a little fresher, stronger in the first quarter or does that not have much of an impact?
I think it's an advantage to have an open date. I don't think there's any question. From our standpoint, we went down there two years ago. I believe it was kind of the same scenario. I think Clemson had lost a football game and had an open date before they played us. So they had a few wrinkles that we had not seen before. That's always a concern when you're playing a team that's had an open date.
They (Clemson) wore us out a couple years ago with an open date before they played us. Scenario's very similar. They stubbed their toe at Georgia Tech. They've had a week off to kind of stew over it. I'm sure they'll have some things for us that we're going to have to adjust to. I would say it's definitely an advantage to have an open date before a game.
One of the more interesting aspects of this game is probably the league's two best wide receivers, Chris Givens and Sammy Watkins. Watkins being a true freshman, your impression of all the ways he can hurt you?
He's amazing. Great, great foot speed. That's what jumps at you, how fast the kid is. He's got really good ball skills, got nice hands, catches the ball well. They do a nice job in their schemes of figuring out ways to put the ball in his hands.
I think one of the things that helps the kid is there's some really nice other receivers on the team which was our problem this past weekend with Floyd, the great wideout from Notre Dame. If you could just focus on him, it would still be a tough job, but it would help you if you could focus on one guy.
That's your problem with Clemson's football team, is the Watkins kid is a great player, but they've got some other guys that can run and catch the football. You can't spend all your time focusing on one guy.
TUESDAY BONUS GROBE QUOTES
On Wake Forest controlling its own destiny in the Atlantic Division.....
Certainly you would like to be in a position to do that. We've played well enough in the ACC so far to give ourselves a chance, but we know that we have a great challenge down in Death Valley"
On Clemson's team speed......
It's amazing really. Every week we're playing really good football teams, but their foot speed stands out.
On playing in Death Valley......
We've played well a couple of times there, and we've played poorly a couple of times. I think two years ago we played really poorly down there, so we know we have to bring our best game to have a chance. The crowd is tough, and their players certainly like playing at home.
It's a great environment for the home team and a really tough environment for the visitors. I think sometimes it pumps everybody up. I think the best team's that we've ever had enjoyed playing in those types of environments, and hopefully our guys will go down there and play well, but I don't think there's any question that Clemson's players get an extra kick out of playing in front of that home crowd.
On the mindset of the team coming off of back-to-back losses......
We're disappointed, but not down. I think we know that we still have a lot of good things to play for. I think we're very disappointed in the opportunity that we lost Saturday night (against Notre Dame). We had a great chance to beat a really good football team and didn't get it done. So we're not great mentally from the standpoint of being happy about the way that we played the past couple weeks, but at the same time, we know that we can play better and we know we have to this week.