WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Murder’s Row approaches.
The Deacs (6-3, 3-2) became bowl eligible last week with a win over Virginia at BB&T Field, but now face back-to-back games against top-five ranked teams, starting with a trip to Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium Saturday to face Louisville (8-1, 6-1).
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson previewed the matchup during his weekly press conference Tuesday.
On how you prepare for Lamar Jackson
Clawson: “The challenge in this one is that they have great people around him, and he is such a good offensive coach. He’s one of the top play callers in all of college football. He knows how to attack people. He knows how to use his personnel. He’s got that unique knack of calling the perfect play at the perfect time. He’s a brilliant offensive strategist. He would be a great offensive coordinator is Jackson couldn’t run. A year ago, I don’t think Jackson made the reads and made the throws that he’s making now. He has been so well coached. His development from last year to this year is a very impressive coaching job. Now he’s a complete quarterback. He can beat you in the pocket. They’re running zone read stuff with him. They’re running this double arc stuff. It’s a lot to prepare for with a really talented group of players and a head coach that knows exactly what he’s doing and how to attack people.”
On if there’s a temptation to get away from what you normally do to throw a curve at them
Clawson: “Well, the problem when you get away from what you do then your kids don’t know what they’re doing. We are what we are, and we do what we do. There’s things you put in spring football and preseason camp, and that’s who you are. That’s what you do. When you come up with junk defenses and different coverages in one week, the kids don’t know what they’re doing. It just slows them down. This is not a week we want to be slowed down.”
On if success versus Louisville in previous years helps this season
Clawson: “Last year, the challenge I threw at the team is that we didn’t win games on the road. Our road record was horrendous. So we play better on the road and then we lose one at home. This year, the challenge was that we got into seven games last year — and we’d show them the score going into the fourth quarter. There were seven games that were one-score games in the fourth quarter, and we were 2-5. We have to finish. It comes down to depth, executing for four quarters, conditioning level and strength level. Going into the season I said this was the most depth we’ve had and the strongest we’ve been. I think that shows out in the fourth quarter. That’s when we lost games a year ago, and now we’re winning those games. That’s very rewarding. A lot of credit goes to our strength coach, Brandon Hourigan and his staff. They have got us in a position strength and conditioning wise that we don’t run out of gas in the fourth quarter. And we have more depth, so guys aren’t playing as many plays.”
On Patrick Osterhage stepping in at center
Clawson: “I give Patrick a lot of credit. I love Patrick. He does everything right. He’s a guy that we recruited at Bowling Green, and then his offers got bigger. He took a leap of faith with us. It’s taken him longer than some of his peer group, but he’s never stopped working. He’s never stopped caring. He’s very unselfish. I just love it when a player like that gets his opportunity and then plays well. That’s so rewarding as a coach. There’s so many guys that by the third year if they’re not playing, their care factor goes downhill and they never become players. It’s a credit to him, how he was raised and his work ethic. He keeps his mouth shut, he works and is always ready. He played well in the N.C. State game too. He knew exactly what he was doing. He had the one bad snap early, and after that settled down. Was he perfect? No, but he played really well. Those are great stories. Just like Julian Jackson earlier this year. Those are performances and guys that are ready to step up that save the season.”
On Osterhage working his way into the mix
Clawson: “He was always in that 7-8-9 area. We knew he’d be in the two-deep. A’Lique (Terry) had some back spasms and we worked Patrick in at center and he was ready to go. Credit to him. So many times, guys get in that situation and they’re not ready and you lose the game because of it, but he was there. I’m really proud of him.”
On who plays safety this week aside from Jessie Bates
Clawson: “I don’t know. We’ll see. We got nicked up there a little bit last week. Certainly (Josh) Okonye will be back there. We’ll have to get a rotation there, but we’re thin.”
On if there’s any hope of having Ryan Janvion or Cam Glenn
Clawson: “Janvion, no. Glenn, we hope, but things would have to go quickly here the next two days.”
On John Wolford
Clawson: “John knew we were giving Kendall some reps and were trying to get him ready, because we thought he could go. Now, John is No.1, Kyle (Kearns) is No. 2 and (Kyle) Driscoll would be No. 3 in an emergency. It is what it is. It’s college football and injuries happen. It’s unfortunate. I’ll tell you what, John Wolford played a heck of a game on Saturday. He really did. He was 9-of-10, and made the play with his feet. The end of the game, the touchdown. He played confident and mistake free. He didn’t turn the ball over. We don’t win the game if John don’t play the way he does.”