WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Spring practice begins Tuesday for the Deacs as they look to continue to build on their 2016 Military Bowl victory.
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson met with the media Tuesday. This is part four of the Q&A from that availability.
On how it makes spring camp different without many early enrollees
Clawson: “You’d rather have more early guys and be able to get them. It just so happened — a couple years ago, we had six or seven guys. This year, Christian (Beal) was the only one. We would have liked to have had more. Sometimes the good academic schools, and we end up recruiting players a lot from better academic schools, it’s not possible for them to graduate in three-and-a-half years. They have state or school graduation requirements. They might have to get that fourth year of English, for instance, and if they don’t allow them to take that in summer school, it usually becomes the reason they can’t graduate early.”
On Zeek Rodney
Clawson: “The plan is that he will come back in the summer.”
On the potential of using a freshman at corner
Clawson: “I’ve always said that the further away you play from the ball, the easier it is to play early. I can’t imagine that we won’t have one or two freshmen in the secondary playing. I think both a corner and a safety will have a chance to play. And probably a linebacker.
“We missed at linebacker the year before, so we had to double-down this year. You’d like to get some separation in that class by playing one-or-two of them and redshirting one-or-two of them.”
On what success did for the program
Clawson: “Made people want to hire our coaches. I think in recruiting, some of the commitments we held onto, might might not have held onto is we had been 4-8 or 3-9. Some of the better players we beat people on, it became easier for them to tell their friends, ‘Hey, I’m going to Wake Forest.’ I think it helped in the hiring of coaches. Another thing that helped in hiring coaches, quite honestly, was my stability. They know this isn’t a one-year job. They know I want to be here and I’m committed to be here. And the school is committed to having me. So when you have coaches who have wives and children who are in school — I think that helped hire them. And it helps in recruiting.”
On if success breeds more success
Clawson: “At a certain point, you can’t sell the future. You have to have tangible results. I always thought the third year would be where we have a chance to start flipping it. We did it. It validates a little bit of the plan. But this league never gets easy. I told our team that it’s hard to get to six. It’s hard to get to a bowl. You can never assume you’re going to get where you were and build on it. First you have to get back to that spot. I think our schedule in some ways is going to be a little more challenging. We don’t have seven at home. I think the non-conference is a little more challenging. Certainly the cross-over game — we caught Virginia at home the year they were going through a coaching change. But Georgia Tech is coming off a nine-win year. I think our football team will be better, but I would also say we have to be better.”
On getting a win over a ranked opponent in a bowl game to earn the winning season
Clawson: “The reaction — it’s almost like Temple thought they deserved a better game. Nobody within their program said that, but it was the general feeling. That didn’t get lost on our players. They had a great year. When you win seven — six of our seven wins were a one-score game in the 4th quarter. That took it from a one win to a seven-win season. With a few more conversions or a few more plays, it could have been a nine or 10-win season. The margin for error with us is so small either way.”