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WFU's Jim Grobe discusses the Vanderbilt game

Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005

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Wiston-Salem, NC - Head coach Jim Grobe plus Jon Abbate, Patrick Ghee, Benjamin Mauk and Steve Vallos met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming season and to preview Thurday's season opener against Vanderbilt.

Head coach Jim Grobe

On excitement coaches have for the opening game:
"I think you are more nervous than anything else. It's an exciting time, but nobody knows right now whether they're ready to play or not. I don't care what they say. Everybody is a little nervous this time of year. You just have to go out and play somebody. I don't think three more weeks of practice would do us any good."

On the team's preparation:
"We bounced back a little last night. We've worked our guys pretty hard. I thought Saturday was a really bad practice. We had dead legs, and didn't seem to be tuned in too much. Last night, we were bouncing around pretty good. I think we're starting to get our legs back under us. I think we're ready to give a good effort. We'll see if we've done a good job coaching them up for Thursday night."

On Vanderbilt:
"I think Vanderbilt is very similar to us. They play in a great league; the SEC's arguably the best league in the country. I think the ACC is good, the Big 12, there are a lot of good BCS conferences out there. I tell a lot of people that last year we had a better team than some of the teams that played in bowl games; we just played in a great league, and I think Vanderbilt is the same way. They had five games go right to the wire last year, and we had seven go down to the wire. We're just playing in great conferences. Vanderbilt is a very good football team and I think our players understand that."

On scouting the Commodores:
"First thing that pops up is a great quarterback in Jay Cutler. He was picked by the SEC coaches as the best. They have a couple of really fine receivers -- one that is a difference maker that was picked preseason All-SEC, couple of big physical running backs and a re-tooled offensive line but big and physical. Defensively, the thing I like about them is that they chase the football. They have an All-SEC linebacker who led them in tackles. They're a team that is very well coached. Bobby Johnson does a great job and his staff. Just overall, a very well-coached football team with difference makers on both sides of the ball."

On facing Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler:
"This is not a quarterback we'd like to face with a young secondary, but we don't have a choice. Everybody has good players. You can't find a team without some really good players. We're going to face a great quarterback with good receivers. I think our front seven has to help our secondary. If we're not able to put pressure on Jay Cutler, then we're going to have some problems, but our young guys (in the secondary) can play. We have some talent back there. It's just a matter of whether we can focus for four quarters and not give up too many big plays."

Sophomore quarterback Benjamin Mauk

On the first game:
"It's about time after those two-a-days and one-a-days that Coach Grobe put us through. It is all going to change on Thursday so I think we're ready. My body's healthy and everybody's doing really well, so I'm just real excited to get out there and start playing."

On first game mistakes:
"It's our first game, so there are going to be mistakes made but we just have to limit how many mistakes are made on our side of the ball. We have to take care of the football, can't have any turnovers, win the kicking game and keep them out of the end zone."

On the playbook:
"Everything's in. Everything has been in for a week now, so everybody's getting used to what we're going to be running on Thursday. Everyone's real excited and I think we'll be okay."

Sophomore linebacker Jon Abbate

On being ready for the season to start:
"It's been a long summer and a long preseason, and we're two days out. It's an unbelievable feeling. You know in practice we can't hit the quarterback but on Thursday night you know well be able to hit the quarterback. It's the live deal."

On what to expect from the Wake Forest defense:
"High pressure, always blitzing, blitzing all the time. With Jeremy Thompson and Matt Robinson on the defensive ends, we'll have great pressure on third downs. With Pierre Easley and Jason Pratt at linebacker, Patrick Ghee at safety and Josh Gattis, you know we're looking really good, it's going to be a great year."

On the player you look up to:
"Pat Tillman, he was a linebacker in college, a safety in the pros. He's the poster boy for the sacrifice that he did for the United States."

On the starting cornerbacks:
"They're athletic as can be, Kevin Patterson and Alphonso Smith. They're unbelievable in practice. They've just got to stay consistent. Big plays will happen on them, and they're just going to have to bounce back. I'll be there for emotional support and they'll have to shake it off and keep going."

Junior safety Patrick Ghee

On Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler:
"My job is going to be a lot tougher on Thursday. Jay is a great quarterback, great runner and a great passer, so we have to play our defense. We have to do our best to contain him, because he is a great quarterback he will make plays. We have to play within ourselves and do whatever it takes to win the game."

On the defensive scheme:
"When we play defense our defensive scheme, you have to play within yourself. What I mean is we have rules and fundamentals that we always do no matter who we face because you don't know every play. When you do recognize a play that's when you make your interceptions or your stats. When you watch film, the players who don't do their assignments are the reason why big plays happen."

On setting the tempo of a game:
"Some people like to talk but talking doesn't mean anything. It's how you actually perform. It's how you play. How I stake my ground is by playing, hit somebody hard. Telling someone that you're here to play does not mean anything, because anybody can tell you that you're here to play but it's actually those who perform who are those who are effective at the start of the game."

Junior offensive tackle Steve Vallos

On the team:
"I think a lot of guys here at Wake Forest have taken different paths. Since Grobe has been here, he's recruited different types of players than the old coach recruited. He's thrown a lot of guys into the fire and a lot of guys have been redshirted. I was redshirted, but a lot of guys played their redshirt freshman year, and had to grow up really quick. It's been good for us, and it will pay off this season."

On preparing for a defensive scheme:
"I think half of it is grunt work, but if you know the plays, the defensive scheme maybe a blitz, what they're planning to run, I think it really helps out to be where you need to be. Certain times it makes the blocks easier, and makes the whole game easier if you know mentally what you're supposed to do rather then physically being able to do. I think that really pays dividends in the long run."

On blocking:
"I think our huge downfall last year was our pass blocking, that's why we could not throw the ball as much. We couldn't protect our quarterbacks, and I think pass blocking is the harder part. I think run blocking is pretty easy, but pass blocking is something we've been focusing on in this camp. I think it will pay off and quarterbacks are going to be able sit back and throw the football a lot easier."

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WFU's Jim Grobe discusses the Vanderbilt game
WFU's quarterback Benjamin Mauk.
photo by Gene Galin
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