Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Marquel Lee tackles "everything" in win over Orange

Wake Forest coach raves about Marquel Lee's performance against Syracuse and the toughness of John Wolford in the final installment of his question and answer session with the media Tuesday.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Deacs (5-1, 2-1) are looking to break a four-game skid against Florida State (4-2, 1-2) when then travel to Tallahassee for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff game televised on ESPN Saturday.

Here’s the final segment of Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson’s press conference with the media Tuesday.

On the toughness of John Wolford

Clawson: “That’s an understatement. It’s not just his ability to play when banged up. It’s that when he gets hit as a quarterback, you don’t see him short-arm it. You don’t see him drop the back foot. He’s plays the next play like the previous play never happened and he never got hit. That takes a lot of courage. How many times last year did people say, ‘John’s a passer, and Kendall’s a runner.’ That’s not fair to John. He played with a high ankle sprain all last year. I think now you’re seeing that John has speed and has athleticism. He can run the football too. On his touchdown run, he pulled away from the safety.”

On Amari Henderson’s improvement and stability in the secondary

Clawson: “It’s like anything in football. It’s a week-to-week existence. Did I feel stable after the Indiana game? No. I give Amari a lot of credit. After the Indiana game, he had a great week of practice. I think the last two weeks, he’s played well. But whenever you say it’s stable, that’s the kiss of death. As always in football, we’re a work in progress. Those guys have improved and are getting better. Amari played really well. That’s why I’m really proud of our team. All the responses that need to happen. Amari didn’t play well at Indiana, but instead of getting discouraged he just worked harder. Now he’s put together two really good weeks, so he should start getting some confidence. Our team’s ability to respond from a loss. Garrett Wilson’s ability to respond from a bad snap. That’s very important in football that you’re resilient and come back. I think there was a feeling on our sidelines the last two years when something like that happened like, ‘Oh no. Here we go again.’ The ability within a game or within a season to bounce back from those things is really important.”

On the team embracing the 1-0 on the week mentality

Clawson: “I think it’s different this year because of the expectations of our team internally and externally were a little bit different this year. I think there were a lot of articles this year speculating that this would be the year Wake Forest gets better. I told the guys to ignore all that. The only thing you can do is go 1-0 that week. Don’t look at the schedule and say we should have this one, this one should be hard, etc. That’s not how it works. Every week is a new season and every week has new challenges. This guy is out. This guy is healthy. You don’t look at the season as a whole, you just focus on that day and that week’s opponent. If you do that, all your season goals take care of themselves. The second you look ahead, it never works out that way. We try to ignore the noise. I thought that before the first game this year, there was a little bit more anxiety, because for the first time our players had expectations. You can’t play a whole season in one day or one week. I talked about that a lot more this year, that our only goal all through camp was to become a 1-0 football team. Obviously when it works they start listening a little more. That’s the goal this week. Gotta put the win behind you, but you also have to put the losses behind you, which sometimes is tougher.”

On receivers making tough catches against Syracuse

Clawson: “Cortez (Lewis) made some really good catches on the sideline. Obviously, the weather limited the offense a little bit. It very much become a boundry, tight end, slot game. Even Chucky Wade’s move he made on the last touchdown was a great open-space move. Those are the kind of plays the last two years we just never got. You had a guy one-on-one in space against a DB and he broke him down on the play. I thought Cortez Lewis managed the elements well. He caught everything. Considering the conditions, that was really important.”

On evaluating the tape of Marquel Lee’s performance against Syracuse

Clawson: “He tackled everything. He tackled everything. I watched the tape, and they had 60 plays and he had 15 tackles. One out of every four plays, he was making a tackle. Eliminate the incomplete passes, and it’s probably one out of three. Five and a half for loss. He didn’t play well against NC State, and that’s another example of a guy responding to a disappointing performance with maybe his best performance ever. I don’t remember having a linebacker with a stat line like that. It was legit. That wasn’t Steve Shutt (Wake football SID) up in the press box trying to inflate stats, which everyone else in the country does, but not Wake Forest (smiles and laughs). We don’t inflate statistics here. He tackled everything. It was unbelievable watching the film.”


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