Wake Forest Head Coach, WR, and CB Preview Louisville

Photo: Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film
Photo: Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film

Wake Forest (2-2) had their weekly press conference on Tuesday to preview the Cards. Head coach Dave Clawson, wide receiver Matt James, and cornerback Kevin Johnson spoke. Below are the transcripts of what each of them said as well as links to the video on the Wake Forest site.

Head Coach Dave Clawson

Video of Dave Clawson

Opening statement…
“Wrapping up Army, I’m proud of the win, and not just because of the win, but how we won. To come back and win the fourth quarter the way we did, the way our defense played in the second half, there were certainly opportunities to not come back, and certainly things didn’t look good for 20 minutes of that game – late in the first half and the whole third quarter. I think our guys showed a lot of resiliency. Watching the tape, the physical effort that our guys are giving us – I’m really proud of it. We are not playing as many players as we would like. Sometimes when guys play more snaps than you’d like to, you may see lack of effort or guys taking plays off, and our guys are giving us such great physical effort. We’ve got to continue to develop and try to play more players. Heading into an eight-game ACC season, that’s going to have to happen. There were a lot of things (from Army): we took care of the football, their two turnovers really hurt them. We had a turnover late in the first half and our defense allowed us to survive that. After giving up three consecutive drives, to get a three-and-out before the half turned out to be a critical play. Offensively we did a nice job in the red zone. So a lot of positives to build on and obviously we have to build with who the opponent is this week.

“We are playing a really quality physical, extremely well-coached football team. They have a lot of big-time players. Their defense is one of the very best in the country, it might be No. 1 or No. 2 in the country at stopping the run. They have a bunch of guys up front who will be playing on Sundays, and they’re well coached, and play really well with their hands, they can run on the perimeter. This is one of the best defenses that we will face all year. Offensively certainly coach (Bobby) Petrino’s track record speaks for itself. They’re averaging I think 38 points a game. They have two tackles who are outstanding. They have a bunch of running backs who could play anywhere in the country. Their best receiver got hurt early, but they’ve had guys step up for them – the Quick kid has made a lot of big plays. We’re not sure who the quarterback is going to be, but certainly the Gardiner kid has played well, the freshman was a national recruit who could have gone anywhere in the country and certainly watching him in his limited action this year poses a lot of threats. He has a live arm and is very dynamic and can create plays. We’re going on the road to open the ACC against a good football team, so we have a great challenge, but we’ll go out there this week and try to get better and go up there and make a good account of ourselves.”

On where the team is right now…
“Defensively our guys know that they can execute the defense at a high level, doing things right, and they’ve had some success. Offensively, it’s been a work in progress. We knew that going into it with how young we are. I don’t think there’s any question that we’ve improved. Now that improvement has to keep happening against one of the best defenses in the country. It’s a great measuring stick game, but certainly feel better heading into this week’s game after last week’s performance.”

On John Wolford’s performance…
“I’ve never seen a freshman get seniors lined up the way he does. He really has learned (the offense) quickly, and he knows it better than a lot of the guys that were hear this spring which has helped a lot. When you go back and watch the film, he’s getting in some of the right checks, the ball is going where it should go, you see him getting better every week, so that’s been very positive for us.”

Senior Wide Receiver Matt James

Photo: WakeForestSports.com
Photo: WakeForestSports.com

Video of Matt James

On how the offense has come around since the beginning of the season…
“I think that has a lot to do with how well the o-line has come along, just confidence, and getting some games under our belt. You know we are playing some young guys and it’s a new system for us, we were under a different offense last year, and as we continue to go throughout the season and play more games, I think that is what we are going to see from our offense. We are moving the ball better, committing less penalties, and moving the ball down the field.”

On the running game improving…
“That really opens up the passing game for us and then when we are passing the ball down the field we can run the ball better. Coach [Warren] Ruggiero really puts us in a good position with his play call and the things we need during the week, it’s what we see on Saturday so it makes the game that much easier. You just rep it every day in practice and it’s just second nature to us now.”

On Wolford being ready for ACC play…
“I think Wolford has been ready since he stepped on campus. He has a different air about himself and he’s not easily flustered and I think we’ve seen that from how well he has played in the second half of our season, and I think we are going to continue to see that as challenges get tougher and as we face more adversity.”

On excitement that ACC play is finally here…
“We played against a lot of these guys in high school, you see them at these camps and what not, and it’s real now. We’ve watched them all season and we watched them last season, and we haven’t really squared off against Louisville since the 2006 Orange Bowl. So it’s going to be nice to get another whack at them.”

Senior Cornerback Kevin Johnson


Video of Kevin Johnson

On how the team has improved since the year started…
“I think we’re coming along great as a team. We’re gelling; I think the offense is getting better and better every single week. Our defense is also clicking, really getting in tune with the defensive schemes against good competition. The first four games we played were against great competition, but we’re excited to get started off on ACC play. I think we’ve come a long way. Guys are playing a lot faster, seeing things quicker, and guys are confident. You’re playing with new faces, so the communication always [gets] better. I think guys are adjusting very well.”

On what challenges Louisville brings…
“Louisville’s a great team. Offensively, they’ve got some great players — some really good running backs and some good receivers that can move very well. It’s going to be a great challenge and we’ve got to have a great week of practice to be able to prepare for a team like this but we’re excited for the challenge.”

On the opportunity to play at Louisville…
“I’m just telling [the young guys] to have fun. That’s what the game of football is about. You go out there and train hard all year and put in all this hard work, now it’s time to have fun. It’s going to be a great environment, all the juices are going to be flowing. All the guys are going to be excited and I know I’m going to be excited. I’ve never played at Louisville – I’ve heard great things about the environment. I watched the Miami versus Louisville game and the crowd looked great, so it’s going to be an exciting venue to play at and I think it’s going to be great for us and great for the team.”

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