Interview With Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe

Jim Grobe has been the most successful coach in Wake Forest history. Grobe met with the press at the ACC Kickoff to discuss the 2009 season and the possibility of continuing their streak of eight win seasons and the importance of developing their young defense.

With the recent success at Wake Forest, what do you need to do to keep feeding the expectations for your program?

"I don't think there's any doubt that the expectations have gotten greater at Wake Forest. The problem is I have to be really careful with the players and let them realize that last year was a heck of a year. We won eight games and a bowl game and we have to be careful that even though our expectations were to compete for a championship, we fell a little short; we still had a great year. Our football team was disappointed, our coaches were disappointed, and our fans were a little disappointed; we have to be careful that we don't appreciate having a winning season and a bowl game. Hopefully we can continue to compete for championships. I think in this league when you can have a winning season and go to a bowl game you better appreciate that. I've been at programs where we forgot that that's a pretty good thing to happen to us. I remember one year at Air Force we won eight games and our motto was taking it to the next highest level and we didn't go to a bowl game the next year. You have to be careful about expectations running away from you."

Your players were disappointed with the eight wins and want to win ten games. Do you want them to aim so high?

"The only thing I would hope, and this sounds like coach speak, is just focusing on winning the next game. You have to be really careful. If you get too much of this pie in the sky stuff, the next thing you know they're thinking about the game in Tampa. You have to keep your feet on the ground. I hope those guys are disappointed. We had some games right at the end of the year that we didn't close out. We had a chance and didn't get it done. On one hand, we ought to be pretty happy that we had a chance to contend for a championship. On the other hand, we ought to be disappointed that we didn't get it done."

How much of a concern is the defensive side of the ball this year?

"A huge concern; we lost stability. We lost Aaron Curry, Alphonso Smith and others. We lost some talent, toughness, and leadership. Aaron Curry was the guy that stirred the drink back there. When he got fired up the whole defense was fired up. We're going to miss all those type things but we've got some talent. We have young talent that half the time they don't know where they're going. We're getting there real fast but it's not always the right place to be. We just need to do a good job coaching those guys. It's really a concern. I think what could happen to us this year that didn't happen last year is that our offense put us in some terrible situations. We asked them to do too much because we were not very good offensively. This year hopefully our offense will be better especially controlling the football. I think if we do that we can help our defense more than we did last year. There may be some balance there. I'm not sure how it's all going to play out. I'm hoping if we're a little better offensively, we'll take some pressure off the defense. Last year we didn't help our defense out from an offensive perspective."

Is the young secondary the primary concern?

"I think we have issues in a lot of places. The only place you feel comfortable is down inside. We're young on the edge. The linebackers are all young. We do have some experience at linebacker. They played a lot but they weren't the guys. They didn't take the majority of the snaps. In the secondary, we don't have anybody that we're comfortable with except Josh Bush. We have some guys that can run and that gives you some opportunity. We might have the best foot speed since we've been at Wake Forest. The issue is getting them going in the right direction and having them run fast to the right place. There are just no places defensively where you feel really, really comfortable. We have the potential to be very talented. Getting these guys to play with a little maturity and making the right decisions is not as easy as it sounds."

Do you expect more passing in the conference with the number of experienced quarterbacks?

"We learned a great lesson last year, and it was my fault. We put too much on Riley Skinner. At the start of the year we're in a spread offense and we're throwing the ball a lot, which Riley does really well, but the other ten guys around him didn't play very well. Our offensive line stayed banged up all year and our running backs stayed banged up all year. We just gave the guy no support. Up until the Maryland game we were in the spread offense and after that we just had to say Riley can't do it by himself. We had to go back to a more balanced offense and running the football. At least half the teams have quarterbacks that have the potential to be big time. How the cast around those quarterbacks play is going to be everything. Riley Skinner can be as good as we want him to be if the other ten guys play well. It's not going to be Riley; it's going to be how the other ten play."


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