Les Johns

Dave Clawson on two biggest challenges as a coach

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson talks about the challenge of getting his team prepared after an emotional win in the first part of his question and answer session Tuesday.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson spoke with the media Tuesday as the Deacs prepare to face Delaware at 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening at BB&T Field.

Here is part one of the question and answer session with the media

On if the win over Duke validates the improvement he believes the team has made

Clawson: “It is what it is. I don’t want to make it bigger than what it was. It was a great win for our program. Obviously, we beat an ACC team on the road that’s our rival. That’s a huge win for our program. But in terms of validating what we’ve done — this is continually a work in progress. It only means something if we can carry it through and keep improving, and win more games. You could tell how our kids reacted after that game — it was a big one for us. Duke is a rival. We didn’t bring it up, but were very aware that they’d won four in a row (against Wake). We got that game, and it starts us off well in the ACC, but after the game I hope I can look back and say that was a turning point. I’ve been a part of teams that you have a win like that, but then don’t follow it up, so it doesn’t end up meaning as much. It only means something if we continue to progress and continue to get better, and continue to improve as a football team.”

On if his team understands that Delaware can win the game Saturday

Clawson: “Yeah. I think their game against North Carolina last year proves that point. They went up and down the field, and I think they had 279 yards rushing against North Carolina. They rushed the ball against North Carolina better than we did certainly. The size of their linemen — the average guard and tackle for them is 6-foot-6, 290. They will be as big and physical as a lot of the lines we play in the ACC. Their running backs are big, downhill runners. These are guys that push the pile forward, at 210-230 pounds. I think last year’s film against North Carolina has caught our players’ eye. That was a very competitive football game until late. At halftime, I think, it was tied or a one-score game. North Carolina was a team that played for the ACC Championship and beat us soundly.”

On how the team bounces back from the high of the win Saturday

Clawson: “It’s one of the challenges. I was told very early in my career by the first head coach I worked for that the two greatest challenges are coming back from a heartbreaking loss or an emotional win. Our goal every week is to be 1-0 that week. When we got to Sunday, you congratulated them, told them what a great job they did and how hard they played. We’re certainly very proud of the win, but it’s a new week. I think you could tell how invested our kids were in that game last week. It didn’t start off well, but our players have invested so much into the program and this team that they were going to play hard and play through it.

“We need them to make that same investment every week. When you play Duke — an ACC game on the road, in-state rival, you don’t need a lot of the extra bulletin board material. There’s certain games they’re going to get up for naturally. Duke, NC State — those are games our players grow up dying to play. We have to be consistent in the program that our approach doesn’t change week-to-week. That is a challenge, because on offense, we’re still a relatively young football team. On offense this week, we’re going to start eight freshmen or sophomores. The older a team is, the more they realize you just have to be the same. Those emotional highs and lows happen a little bit more when you’re younger. I told the players that if they liked that feeling in the locker room after the game, that they have to be willing to make the same investment every week. So far, they have. We had a bunch of guys up watching film, and we had a good practice this morning. I think our guys like that feeling, they haven’t felt it a lot lately, and they want to feel it again.”

On seeing other close games against FCS teams across the country

Clawson: “I told our players — we take every week and we introduce the opponent. I told them ‘I don’t really want to get up here and try to scare you. I think you guys know the Power 5 teams that have lost to FCS teams.’ Our focus has to be that we need to get better, whether we’re playing Duke, Tulane or Delaware. We have to have a consistent approach that we’re preparing each and every week to get better. We need to feel that if we do that, then we control what happens. Obviously, the opponent you play and their quality impacts that. If they have any question on the quality of Delaware, all they have to do is watch the film.”

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