Les Johns

Clawson on camp, injuries, returning offensive experience

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson recaps the first day of spring practice.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Deacs hit the Doc Martin Practice Facility Tuesday as spring camp officially began.

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson met with the media after practice concluded.

On what he thought of their first workout

Clawson: “Every year, the whole first practice gets faster. With the exception of the fifth-year seniors, all these guys, this is all they’ve known. The offense was able to play really fast and the defense maybe not as fast. It’s the first day that they’re basically in a new defensive system, so there’s going to be a little bit of catch up. They kept things very simple. They got their base coverage in, so the offense could be a little bit more spread out while the defense had to be a little more vanilla. That’s just day one of an installation of a new package.”

On if the offense will be ahead of the defense for a bit

Clawson: “I really hope we start becoming a more balanced team. This is the first time where the guys returning on the offensive two-deep will be in their third, fourth or fifth year. The last two years, we’ve been counting on freshmen and redshirt freshmen to play starting roles. You walk that first offense out there today, and with the exception of Cade Carney, everybody is in at least their third year. You don’t mind playing a few younger guys, as long as the bulk of it is third, fourth and fifth year guys. This will be the first time on offense that’s the case. I don’t know how many times the words ‘good’ and ‘young’ will go together well at Wake Forest. We’ve been more experienced on defense, and now the challenge is you’re replacing seniors who left — those guys played a lot of football for us. Offensively, the only two seniors who played a lot for us were Josh (Harris) and Ty (Hayworth). We have to stay healthy, and I expect us to be much better.”

On the logistics of the first practice with three new defensive coaches

Clawson: “There’s a lot more time behind the scenes of going through the practice plan. (Mike) Elko, (Warren) Ruggiero and I were together eight straight years. With the practice plan you knew where everybody went and the tempo of the drill. Yesterday, when we discussed the practice plan we went every period, ‘Okay. The linebackers are here. The corners are here. The safeties are here. The receivers will be here.’ These guys have coaches for years, but it’s the logistics of how our practice works. For the players, they will tell you it’s not that much different. But for the coaches, it’s just a lot more preparation goes into every practice, because half the staff is new. They’ve all coaches. There’s nuances everywhere, like how a play finishes and when you go to skelly — it’ll be on this yard line and start on this hash.”

On if he was pleased with what he saw from Kendall Hinton

Clawson: “Just the fact that he’s back out there gets you pleased. It’s also important that between Jamie Newman and Kyle Kearns that we get one of those guys ready to play too. I told John (Wolford) and Kendall in my meetings with them that everybody within our walls and out of our walls want us to have one quarterback. But those two guys have not stayed healthy for more than a game or two at a time in the last two years. We’re repping them equally at the 1s. Kendall is the starter, but John is getting reps with the 1s. He has to, because we haven’t stayed healthy. And we have to get a third one ready because neither of them have stayed healthy. One of the battles that people won’t talk about will be between Jamie and Kyle. It’s hard to get four quarterbacks ready. It’s tough to get three. You can’t get four. That competition between Kyle and Jamie — we’ll have to prepare our third quarterback, because to not do so wouldn’t be prudent.”

On if it becomes a goal to get that competition wrapped in the spring

Clawson: “No. You want it to extend to the fall. Both those guys haven’t got enough reps. It’s no different than a year ago with Kendall and John. They will have a body of work in the spring and we will meet with them and tell them what each needs to do to win the job. Part of it will be their willingness to do the work. What these guys do in terms of improvements over the summer — we’re done early April and fall camp starts in early August, so there’s four months they can make themselves better.”

On Thomas Dillon

Clawson: “We’re hoping that we’ll get Dillon back after spring break. He had his surgery done at home in the fall. He’ll have to see his doctor, and if his doctor clears him, we’ll have him hopefully after spring break.”

On Cortez Lewis

Clawson: “He bruised his shoulder, but Cortez has had a history of shoulder injuries, so we want to be cautious in the spring.”

On Arkeem Byrd

Clawson: “We need a home run hitter, man. Cade (Carney) and (Matt) Colburn proved they can play. Now we’re going to give those other guys a chance as well.”

On if Chucky Wade will be able to play both slot and outside receiver

Clawson: “Yes. We’re going to play him at both positions. Tabari (Hines) and (Greg) Dortch are slots. Chucky can play everywhere. Chucky is smart, and can play all three receiver positions. We have to get him the ball. When he is out there he makes plays, and he can play all three spots.”


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