Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson talked about his team's match-up with Indiana this weekend on today's ACC Football Coaches Teleconference. He also talked about what players would miss the game against IU because of injury.
COACH CLAWSON: We enjoyed a good win against Delaware and played well on both sides of the line of scrimmage. We had two turnovers that proved to be very costly resulting in 14 points. Even though I was pleased with most of the execution through the game, the turnovers were very disappointing and made the score -- made it more of a competitive game than it needed to be.
But looking ahead, we go on the road against a good Big Ten team in Indiana. They beat us pretty good a year ago at home. They're excellent on offense. They've got a big, physical offensive line, a really, really good tailback, a transfer quarterback who has been very efficient for them, skill at receiver, and the offense always presents a challenge because of the pace and tempo of it.
On defense, they're very improved. It's a new defensive coordinator. They're running a new scheme. They're very aggressive, and they've taken to it very well, so we'll have a very good challenge on our hands on the road up in Indiana this week.
Q - Obviously you got a victory in this last game but some injuries to the team. What can you say about how your players stepped up and how they handled the adversity of injury and maybe where some of these injuries are at at this point?
COACH CLAWSON: Well, that's a lot of questions, so I don't know if I'll answer them all, so I think that's a three-part question. Number one, I thought on Saturday our guys handled injuries well. I mean, injuries are part of football, and that's why you recruit and that's why you develop depth. I feel for the first time since we've been here as a staff that we have developed depth. When a Cade Carney goes down, we have a Matt Colburn to step in and rush for 100 yards. John Wolford has played a lot at quarterback for us. It wasn't like we were putting in a freshman who had never played, and I thought he played one of his best games certainly in the second half. He was very efficient, ran the ball, threw the ball.
And defensively we have depth. When we have lost guys, right now we've had other people that can step up, and it looks like we'll get some guys back this week. We're not exactly sure who yet, but it appears that our offensive lineman Justin Herron will be back, which would be a big positive, and we won't have Cade back, we won't have Kendall back, but I think a lot of the other guys we're hoping to have.
Q - Without Kendall this week how does the offense attack the defense differently or how does that game plan now with John being the guy this week?
COACH CLAWSON: Well, we run our all, and we run our offense with John, we run our offense with Kendall. There's certainly things that we emphasize a little bit more with Kendall than John and vice versa. We'll do the things that John is good at and he's comfortable with, but we pretty much call the same plays for both of them. Kendall will run a little more usually, and John we throw it a little bit more.
Again, it's not like we change the playbook or change the terminology. We do what we do.
Q - And as far as Indiana is concerned, what challenges does that offense pose for your defense this week?
COACH CLAWSON: Well, it's just that there's constant pressure, that they go so fast and line up in so many different sets, and if you're not aligned, they'll have numbers on the perimeter that they'll throw quick screens, and you've got to get off of blocks and make plays. Or if you spread out with them too much that they've got an excellent offensive line and a great tailback, and then they've got numbers to run the football. They just go so fast that if you are not perfectly aligned and your kids can't play their responsibilities, they create explosives just out of teams not being aligned.
You know, so that's the challenge, and they play at such a pace that you've got to be prepared to play 90 plays. To play that tempo and play good responsibility football, you know, it's a mental challenge, not just a physical one. They do a great job with it, and they know what they're doing. They're well-coached, and they've got good players.
The combination of good players that know what they're doing, that play at tempo, is always a challenge defensively, and it's a challenge to prepare for.
Q - I wanted to talk to you about the running game. The fact is I know you've struggled for a couple years to get the ground game going, but it's been effective this year even with two different tailbacks in the last two weeks. Can you talk about the progress you've made there and how solid you think that is?
COACH CLAWSON: Well, I've said all through camp and even through the spring, I knew we'd be better. Last year we played three freshmen on the O-line, and that's never good. Maybe you play one freshman because they're exceptional. If you're playing three freshmen, it's probably because you're not very good. We believed in them and believed these guys would be good players, but they were playing before they were ready, and now they're a year older, a year stronger. The freshmen are now our backups, and we've even played those guys and they've done a nice job, both Nate Gilliam and Jake Benzinger stepped in for Justin Herron this week and played really well. I just think it's year three. They have a better idea of what they're doing. They know the offensive scheme better, and the bottom line is they're bigger and stronger.
Q - Is this success mainly a function of the growth of the offensive line or the improvement at tailback?
COACH CLAWSON: I mean, I think it's both. I think it starts with the offensive line because you could have bury Sanders back there, and if you can't block people, there's no room. So I think the offensive line is doing a better job of getting movement and creating gaps, but I also think we're much better at tailback. When we first got here, we did not have a tailback. We were moving receivers and defensive backs just to be able to hand the ball to somebody, and now three years into it, we've recruited six tailbacks, and we've got great competition at the position, and whether it's Rocky Reid or Matt Colburn or Tyler Bell, when Cade went down, we have confidence in all those guys that we feel they're all capable players, and those are guys that were recruited here to be tailbacks. They weren't recruited here to play defensive back or receiver or safety.
You know, I think we recruited them because we thought they were good tailbacks, and now that we've had them for a year or two years, we certainly believe that's the case. They're much more natural in terms of carrying the ball and with their vision and understand our run schemes better just because all these kids are kind of growing up together.
Q - I wanted to ask you about Duke Ejiofor. He's tied for the league lead in sacks with four, and from a guy on the defensive line, that's a little unusual. Just talk about him, what makes him effective in being able to do that, and what problems that causes for -- not problems it causes for you, but...
COACH CLAWSON: He creates problems for us in practice. We can't block him in practice. If we want to throw the ball in practice, we have him go on the sidelines. I mean, he's what a pass rusher needs to be. He's got a great first step. He's quick. He's fast. But he's also strong.
Usually good pass rushers have the ability to speed rush or bull rush, and Duke can do both. He's extremely strong in the weight room. He transfers his strength through his hips, to his upper body, on the football field, and he's got great quickness, and he can feel the lean of linemen. I think he's got his good initial rush and then he understands how to counter, and he plays extremely hard. He studies the game, and he's become a very good player for us.
Q - Being able to constantly pressure the opposing quarterback, how does that spread to the rest of the defense and what they're able to do?
COACH CLAWSON: Well, I think there's different ways to get pressure. We have struggled here for a couple years to get pressure with a four-man rush, and so a pressure really always had to come from blitz, and then when you're blitzing, you're always going to have some holes in coverage or you've got to play man, and so what's been great about Duke's development is that at times we do get rush and get pressure with a four-man rush and can still play coverage. What that allows you to do is now maybe the quarterback has to hold onto the ball a little bit longer as opposed to when you're rushing five or six guys.