WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Continuing with part two of our interview with Wake Forest football coach Dave Clawson from Wake Media Day Saturday.
On if Chuck Wade has the ability to contribute as an outside receiver this season, as well as providing reliever for Tabari Hines at the slot
Clawson: "Chucky is really bright. Chucky is probably the one guy that can play all three positions. Chucky is a good football player. I don't know what's going to happen at those three positions. If something was to happen to Tabari, then no (he wouldn't play outside). But if something were to happen to Alex Bachman and Steven Claude, then maybe he doesn't play any slot. Maybe he just plays outside. The great thing is that we have depth. They key is how long can we keep that depth. I think when we look at a lot of our positions, we look at Chucky as a guy as being able to play slot, outside to the field, and outside to the boundary. That was the good thing about the spring is that we didn't have Cortez (Lewis), we didn't have (Jared) Crump, and Chucky got work at all three of those positions."
On if the offensive line will be able to block this year
Clawson: "Are we going to block anybody? Obviously, that's an exaggeration because there were times last year that we blocked somebody. To me, it's the percentage of time that we blocked them. Do we cut down the number of times a rusher gets free and gets to the quarterback for a TFL? We have a good defensive line and a good front-7 here, so last spring it was the most competitive (between the offensive and defensive units) it's been and I expect it to continue this fall. Yeah, we're going to be better. Now, obviously there's steps. Part of it is that you can't always say that stuff is on the offensive line. When a back missed a protection or a cut. When a receiver doesn't get open and the quarterback has to hold the ball. You don't just give up sacks because of the offensive line. You give up sacks because sometimes receivers are getting open quick enough, the quarterback isn't getting rid of the ball, the back missed a protection. When your efficiency at offense gets better, that will make the line look better."
On how big of a role the position coach takes in position battles in fall camp
Clawson: "A big decision, because at the end of the day, he’s the one working with the player every day. Another part of it is, ‘Hey, who are you the most comfortable with?’ We have personnel meetings generally before the camp starts, after the first scrimmage and after the second scrimmage. There’s a body of work that every player is building. Certainly, the coordinator has a lot of input and I have a lot of input, but I trust our assistant coaches. If they feel real strongly that someone has earned the starting job — they’ve graded higher, they’ve put more into it, they know the offense or defense better. I trust those guys. That’s why I hired them. Sometimes the starter doesn’t always play the most. You can get into situations where on defense, who’s going to play more — your starting rover or your starting nickel? A guy may be a starter, but another guy may play more.
On Josh Banks
Clawson: “I think Josh just has to be the same player every day. I think there’s times during my first two years where Josh has really flashed, and you think there’s a guy that can be an All-ACC player and a guy that can play on Sundays. There are other times his disappears and you don’t notice him. His challenge is to be the same player day-in and day-out, week-in and week-out. If he can do that at the high level he’s capable of, he’s set himself up to have a great senior year. He hasn’t done that yet. Just yesterday in practice, he made three or four plays that were just ridiculous. Now, can he do that every single day and every single game for 12 weeks? Then you hope sometimes the guys grow up and the lights go on, and that happens.”
On Marquel Lee having All-ACC potential
Clawson: “I think Marquel has to just play within the scope of the defense. I think he’s made a lot of big plays here, and has high-end ability. But it’s the same thing — just don’t try to do too much. He’s our middle linebacker - with every defensive call we make, there’s a job he has. If he does his job, he’s going to have a monster year. I think at times last year he got frustrated and tried to do too much. Sometimes he’d make a good play, but other times it would hurt us. I think what’s exciting is that in the spring and now, he’s played very disciplined football.”
On Ryan Janvion getting back into 2014 form
Clawson: “It’s unfortunate Ryan missed (spring practice), but the good thing is Jessie Bates and Cam Glenn got a lot of reps. Those guys had big springs. Ryan will be the first to tell you that for the first time, we’ve got competition in that room. Ultimately, that makes us all better. That allows us to use Ryan on more special teams, Cam on special teams and Jessie on special teams. We’ve been so thin at that position, we’ve had to limit their special teams reps. That’s hurt our special teams production. Usually your safeties, corners, tight ends and linebackers — the majority of those guys you’d like to be handling your special teams, especially the punt and kickoff units. At times, those units haven’t been as strong because we’ve been so thin at those positions.
“When guys like Janvion have a great sophomore year, and then struggles as a junior because he’s playing hurt — we’re not going to share that, because we don’t want our opponents to know. You watch, see the film and know that the guy wasn’t the player he was the year before. A lot of times when that happens, there’s a physical reason for that.”