WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson finished his question and answer session with the media Tuesday afternoon as the Deacs get set to square off against the Louisville Cardinals Saturday at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium.
On if the stability on the quarterback position helps stabilize the offensive line in terms of knowing what type of quarterback is playing behind them
Clawson: “Not really. We run the same plays with both guys. We certainly do more of the zone read stuff with Kendall (Hinton) when he was in there, but John (Wolford) has rushed for how many yards this year? He’s our second-leading rusher. I’ve said it a million times, John played last year with a high ankle sprain. You’re seeing now how fast (he is). John outran their whole secondary on that one play. You’re seeing how fast and how athletic he is.”
On if there’s any chance of burning a redshirt of Jamie Newman
Clawson: “No. Kyle Driscoll knows the offense. We give him reps. It is what it is.”
On if you change the gameplan and run John Wolford less because you’re down a quarterback
Clawson: “You have to try to win the game. We can’t play with just three-quarters of the offense. We’re an offense right now that’s more ball control. We planned to run the ball a little more Saturday and I think we executed that plan. We didn’t turn it over. We won the time of possession. We ran the ball well for over 200 yards. Who thought two years ago that would be our plan here? We’re going to run the offense. We can’t play scared. If you play like you’re worried about him getting hurt, you’re not giving yourself a chance to win.”
On the appeal of Jessie Bates coming out of high school as a two-star recruit
Clawson: “He had a good senior year. He had Iowa at the end too. Nowadays with recruiting websites that rate kids and tell you who’s three stars and four stars — it’s not a bad business. The players that get a high rank are the ones who come to camps. Jessie was a three-sport athlete, so he wasn’t doing the 24/7, Rivals and Scout site camps. He played baseball. He played basketball. He was a three-sport athlete. He didn’t get all the recruiting attention that just a football player would get that goes to those three combines. We saw a guy that had a good senior year, was a good basketball player, a good baseball player and sometimes those guys become the best players because when they get to college and focus on just football they take off.”
On players like Bates and Wolford improving their size, strength and speed during their time at Wake
Clawson: “We are a developmental program. That’s our sweet spot. Guys like Jessie Bates, Duke Ejiofor and Marquel Lee. Kevin Johnson was a two-star recruit. Our hit ratio on developing those kids has to be really high here.”
On using the Jessie Bates story when recruiting future players
Clawson: “My last team at Richmond had nine NFL players on it. That story has gone from Richmond to Bowling Green to seven or eight of our players on defense the last two years were in the NFL. Some made it, some got drafted, some had a cup of coffee. When you coach at the lower levels, you have to do that. That’s been our M.O. from day one.”
On Bates coming close to not even visiting Wake
Clawson: “It’s an imperfect science. If we didn’t lose two safeties in January, we’re not even recruiting Jessie. We had him on our list, and if we lost somebody we had recruited him, but we didn’t move until January. Some people think your class is done, but we’re still recruiting. You never know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what needs will emerge, or what coaches are leaving which places. Sometimes we stay in touch with guys just in case.”
On Bates having a good year working on the scout team last season
Clawson: “He just has really good ball skills. He’s our punt returner. The pick he had against Army the week before - that wasn’t even his play. The pick he made last week was his easiest pick. Now the return he made was special. I think most of us in this room could have made that pick, but what he did after the catch. He’s got really good ball skills.
On playing with house money after already achieving bowl eligibility
Clawson: “1-0 baby. We want to go 1-0. We told our players they were bowl eligible. We used to word bowl finally. Celebrate 24 hours, then move forward. This team (UL) doesn’t beat people, they destroy people. Games are over by halftime. 600 yards. 50 points. That’s what they average, and a top-10 defense. How much of their defensive yards have been garbage yards when they’ve already put away the game? Like if they really had to play four quarters, their defensive yards would be better.”
On if you take anything away from playing UL competitively the last two years
Clawson: “That one last year against these guys was really painful. We turned the ball over two or three times in the fourth quarter. We had the lead and had the ball in the red zone. But they’re a different team and the quarterback is a totally different player than he was a year ago.