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Jim Grobe's 2006 ACC Football Championship Press Conference

Posted Friday, December 1, 2006

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Jacksonville, FL - Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe met a group of reporters for a press conference in the Hyatt Regency. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the 2006 ACC Football Championship game in Alltel Stadium on Saturday, December 2nd.

WFU Football Coach Jim Grobe

COACH Jim Grobe: We are delighted to be here obviously. We had a pretty remarkable season. I think we've overcome some adversity throughout the year, and just really proud of our players and our coaching staff, and just absolutely delighted and so excited to have a chance to be in this game and my hope is that we play well tomorrow.


Q. Coach, for those of us that haven't seen a lot of you guys this year knowing that you are 10 and 2, we can see that on paper, what's on the inside of this team that we can't see that we don't know about that we will see on Saturday?

COACH Jim Grobe: Well, I think you are going to see a team that plays really hard. That's the most remarkable thing about this football team. People that watch us play, typically the comment is about how hard the kids play, how they fly around and seem to have fun playing football. We are really a football team without a lot of individual stars, but we've found a way to win some games. We're not the most talented group but we play pretty well as a team and the guys like to play.

Q. Coach, at what point this year did you get the feeling that this team could be very special and a team that could get here?

COACH Jim Grobe: John, I thought we were going to be a pretty good football team before the season started. Now I didn't know we were going to lose our quarterback the first game, and running back the third game. In going through the season, we were just finding ways to win football games. But I think kind of the signature game for us is when we beat Boston College. When we beat BC that told our kids that maybe we're a pretty good football team, and that gave us a chance to dream a bit because now we started about possibly winning the division.

Q. How well do you think your team is grounded with everything that's going on right now?

COACH Jim Grobe: Well, I left before them this morning, so I have to draw a beat on that a little bit later. I think okay. We've talked before. One of the things that you look for, to see if your kids are grounded, is how they practice during the week. We have had a really good week of practice. And really we've had a lot of pressure on us for the last three or four weeks trying to get here. So I think our kids are used to the pressure. I think they realize that the key is not just being in the game, but how well we play the game.

Q. Jim, it's no secret that Wake likes to run counter plays on offense and end a rounds. Teams say they prepare for that, but it keeps working, what's the secret?

COACH Jim Grobe: Well, I think David, the key is not doing it too much. I think doing it as a mixer rather than a staple kind of helps us out. You know we like to run the football down inside, and so if you are going to take the inside game away it gives us a chance to get out on the perimeter and doesn't always work, but it's something that we use more or less to try to keep people a little bit off balance.

Q. Jim, under the old system with this year's standings, Georgia Tech would be going to a Major bowl. Virginia Tech would be an at large team. But under this set up, you know you get to play for a conference championship. The best record in the division. Rather than another step, or another tough game in the process, has this game really more often than not involved into a God send for teams in a sense that nothing is truly over until you don't qualify for this game?

COACH Jim Grobe: Well, you know, I think originally when added Virginia Tech and Miami and Boston College people thought that was going to be a negative for Wake Forest because the lid would be to tough. But I always felt in reality, by dividing the league into two divisions and having a championship game, it gave us a little bit better chance to, you know, make it to that game. And so on one hand we added really, really good teams to the league. But by going divisions, I think it did help Wake Forest.

Q. There is a level of familiarity with Georgia Tech, even though you didn't play them this year. But what advantage is it not playing them this year in terms of being able to keep them off balance as your offensive coordinator said earlier in the week throwing everything at them?

COACH Jim Grobe: I think we will find out tomorrow afternoon. You know, in one sense if you play somebody, you know, earlier in the year, it gives you a little bit better beat of what to expect offensively and defensively. But at the same time, it may help them prepare for you a little bit better. So I would imagine it's a wash. I think for both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest playing for the first time, probably levels the playing field a little bit for both schools.

Q. Coach, after the Clemson game, Coach Bowden mentioned that he thought the key to beating you guys is that you aren't too deep, if you can pound on you, pound on you, pound on you, eventually you break by the fourth quarter. What do you think of that? Is depth a real problem? Is that something you had to work around all season and do you think it will be a factor tomorrow?

COACH Jim Grobe: Well, Ned, I think that's one of the reasons we are here today. We had better depth. We would like to continue to improve it. I think as we continue to recruit we will.

But you know, depth has been an issue at Wake Forest for the past two or three years primarily because we've redshirted most of our freshman classes.

But we are at the point now where most of the kids that are playing for us are in keys rolls, playing the lion's share are seniors, juniors and sophomores, and our depth has improved tremendously.

I don't think you can be to the position that we are in right now without having pretty good depth. We've had some injuries throughout the year, some not major injuries, but kids would miss a game here or there and we would have to plug in back ups in order to win football games. So I think our depth is much better than it's been and should get better in the future.

Q. Jim, you have seen John Tenuta one year at Carolina, then I guess the last five years at Tech, as head coach, what is your biggest worry as far as how he prepares defensively?

COACH Jim Grobe: Well, I think the thing that Tech does, they attack you every snap. Their goal is to get you off schedule. They are not in any way a read and react defense. They come across the line of scrimmage and attack the offense. And so, the thing that drives you crazy about John and his defense is that you make a couple of first downs and you feel like you're doing some pretty good things, and the next thing you have a four or five yard loss and now you are completely behind the chains and punting the football.

So, I think, the key to us, against his defense, is to try not get into too many negative yardage plays because that's their goal.

Q. I've heard people say that it's been such an amazing year, that Wake can do nothing wrong at this point, the mission has been accomplished. Is there a concern now that some people think the mission has been accomplished before the actual championship game has been played?

COACH Jim Grobe: I hope not, Dan. I don't sense that with our players. I think our players have really had an attitude almost like the coaching staff that if we can just get one more type attitude that the next one would be good to have.

We've pretty much been doing that most of the year. Especially the last three or four games. I would think because of the timing of the game, you know, having just played Maryland on Saturday, we haven't really had a whole lot of time to be satisfied. I think we will get a good effort out of our kids.

Q. Georgia Tech blitz scheme, what does that do to open things up for you and what problems does it present in you trying to run your perimeter game which you've run all year?

COACH Jim Grobe: It's a little bit of a roll of the dice, honestly. If they hit you right like Virginia Tech did to us a couple of times, they're in your backfield waiting for those guys to come around on the orbits and the reverses and the speed sweeps.

What they do by bringing five most of the time, they vacate some zones. And so your thought would be if you can find those holes in the zone, that you can throw the football. The key is getting it off.

So they are a little bit of a type of defense where they are going to feel like sometimes you might get us a little bit, but we're going to get you enough to get you off balance and not let you get first downs. So, I think, it's a little bit of a crap shoot.

Q. What roll will Kevin Harris play in tomorrow's game?

COACH Jim Grobe: We'll, see we had actually planned on using Kevin a little bit more last week against Maryland and Kenny Moore had a really good day. Kenny will start for us. I think Kevin Harris is pretty much healthy and ready to go. Kevin will play tomorrow. We will kind of see how both kids play. If Kenny has a lot hand, we will probably try to keep him in as much as possible. But I think both kids will play.

Q. Jim, each school is allotted 10,000 tickets. It looks like Wake will sell in excess of 9,000 with maybe three or four days of real selling time to do it. Are you pleasantly surprised by that figure? What's your reaction to the fan's reaction.

COACH Jim Grobe: Well I'm excited, Rob, we've had a really good following here at the end of the season. We had some really good home game attendance. But what I was really impressed with, we had an awful lot of deep fans at Florida State and even a larger crowd at Maryland. I think our fans are excited, and they want to be there to see the guys play. A very short turn around for beating Maryland last Saturday to playing the game this Saturday. And I am really pleased that we've gotten as much interest from the Deacon fans.

Q. One of the themes of the season in college football, the quarterback is almost everything, you can't get anywhere without it. You lost your quarterback early, a guy came, has filled in, and has been effective, have you worked around that truism? Is it true you can't have a good college football team without an outstanding quarterback?

COACH Jim Grobe: I think it's really hard, I do. I have to tell you, I never dreamed that Riley Skinner would play this good as a freshman. You know Riley Skinner is a kid that has lots of ability, but there are a lot of young quarterbacks out there that have tons of ability, but because of lack of experience do silly things to get you beat. Riley Skinner is a kid that takes great responsibility in taking care of the football and running the offense the way we ask him to. He is a very coachable kid. And I think it is hard to be a good football team and play for championships without a quarterback. He has been a guy that has not only surprised me, but a lot of people, in the poise and the maturity that he has shown. He is a kid that has really, really good ability. But I think more than anything else, he's got a great team commitment and tries to do everything possible to take care of the football and help the team.

Q. What was Jeremy Thompson, Pierre Easley able to do? Are they available?

COACH Jim Grobe: Probably Wednesday, yes. Thursday is not a big day for us. But Don Steelman feels like they are ready to go. We will find out tomorrow morning actually when we start working these guys and we start warming up. We will find out a little bit more. We thought Jeremy was ready last week, and he wasn't able to play four quarters. I had really hoped that Pierre would be ready but didn't even dress last week. Don Steelman feels both of those kids should be ready to play and we'll find out more in warm ups whether or not they will.

Q. Is this game not proof that a couple of private schools, relatively small enrollment can still, with the right staff, and the right players, get up there with the big boys and compete at this level? Is there any reason for any small private school to give up hope after seeing what your two teams have done?

COACH Jim Grobe: Yes, I absolutely think that the size of your school, and being a private school, really has nothing to do with your ability to win football games. I will tell you the recruiting pool is a little smaller. You got to work harder to find the right kid. You got to find not only a good character kid, but a kid that can get the job done academically, but obviously a kid that can play at this level.

I think too many schools don't have enough patience to get that done. You know, my blessing at Wake Forest is that I got an athletic director in Rob Wellman that realized this was not going to be an overnight process. So I think that, you know, the private schools, the smaller schools, can certainly get it done. You just have to have a plan to get it done. And I think more than anything else you have to have patience.

Q. Is that one of the reasons you and Chan and your respective staffs bump heads on the recruiting trail?

COACH Jim Grobe: Absolutely, absolutely. We are running into all of the same schools over and over again. You know, we bump heads with Georgia Tech, with Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and Stanford. You can go right down the list and you know what schools you are going to bump into when you go into the high schools. The key becomes picking the right player.

It's easy to find a real good academic kid, and it's also easy to find a real good football player. But finding a kid that can do both, that's the key. And finding somebody that can fit into your system, I think, is really important. But absolutely, there are very few kids that we're on in the south that we don't bump into Georgia Tech.

Q. Jim, Wake Forest does not have a shortage of teams that have competed for conference and national championship in their respective sports. I wonder before you came down here did you get any perspective or encouragement from fellow coaches at Wake on dealing with distractions and the scope of the game?

COACH Jim Grobe: You know, not so much from the scope of the game and the distractions, but we generally meet once a month. All of the head coaches. Ron Wellman pulls us all together, and we've got a really close knit group of coaches at Wake. I'm proud we are able to hold our weight right now. We've been dragging everybody down. All of the other sports at Wake Forest have been good for so long.

We do have some good tradition, and I talk to Skip Prosser all the time. He usually doesn't give me championship type advice, he generally just wants me to throw it deep. That's his only thoughts.

Q. Coach, we've seen some other freshman quarterback this year not succeed so well, at least early on, as far as Riley Skinner is concerned, what has been the key? Obviously he is a grounded kid, talking to him for a few minutes, what's the key to keeping him grounded on the football field, not turning the ball over, those types of things, for your team this year?

COACH Jim Grobe: I think more than anything else is probably Riley's background playing for Corky Rogers at the Bowl school, probably prepared him for this.

I told people a little earlier, for the whole year he doesn't say anything but yes sir and no sir. I thought that's all he knew how to say.

He is one of the kids that take coaching very well. He is a totally committed kid to winning. That's his No. 1 thing. He can care less about stats, how many times you throw it, how many touchdowns he throws for, those are secondary to him. He just wants to win football games.

I think another thing that has really helped Riley, he has been surrounded by some older guys, some veteran guys, that keep him calmed down. So because of that, I think he has been around enough experienced players that it's kind of given him a little bit of a comfort zone when he goes out on the field.

Q. Anyone else?

COACH Jim Grobe: Thank you.

Jim Grobe's 2006 ACC Football Championship Press Conference
Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe.
photo by Gene Galin

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