Q&A with Coach Lobo -- Part II

DeaconSports sat down with Wake Forest assistant football coach Steed Lobotzke, known to most Deacon fans as Coach Lobo. The Demon Deacon offensive coordinator talked about the Demon Deacons' 2004 season as well as the future of the Wake Forest program. This is part II of DeaconSports' interview with Coach Lobo.

DS: You mentioned Chris DeGeare coming in. Are you guys looking to redshirt everyone coming in except for him?

CL: Offensively he's the guy at this point who we said ‘you're not going to redshirt.' He looked good this spring and we're going to try to get him ready. He might play a little early in the year getting his feet wet but as he gets into battle in the ACC, we'll try to work him in more and more as the year goes on. Concerning the other spots, Coach Grobe will make the call. I think his attitude at this point is, if a guy is going to play at least half the game, if he's going to make a difference between winning and losing, we owe this team some wins. We sacrificed wins in the past couple of years for the future of the program. We sacrificed maybe putting the best team out there for the future and now it's one of those "the future is now" things. Now we're going to lean towards playing them if we think it might make the difference between winning or losing a few games where as before we might lean towards redshirting them. There's a lot of different names out there of guys that are intriguing. On the O-Line, we don't need anyone other than DeGeare. I think he'll be the only one. Depending on how the running back injury situation goes, we don't think we'll need anyone there. We thought we were good there when Chris Barclay was a freshman but Tarence Williams got hurt and Fred Staton got hurt and Nick Burney got hurt and all of a sudden Chris was in the lineup. You're never 100%, but we feel good about running back, about quarterback right now, about fullback right now, but if Damon can't come back off his knee, then Mike Rinfrette who is a big physical guy in high school could come in. At tight end, Ted Randolph is a very physical guy. He'll be on campus all summer as he's local from Davie County. He's a guy who could be tempting to put out there. At receiver, if our receiving corp is a little thin and any of our guys are ineligible or Nate Morton can't come back, there's a big receiver coming in named Jonathan Jones who is around 6'3 who would be really tempting to work into the lineup if we're having problems. I think more than any talent that we're signing, it's not going to be what freshman shines, it's going to be what positions are short coming out of two-a-days. It's going to be the older guys determining who doesn't redshirt. If the receivers don't step up, it's going to be Jonathan Jones or Casey Hill who may have to play. If the running backs get dinged up or don't step up, it's going to be Kevin Harris or L.J. Flintall that plays. If the quarterbacks get dinged up, maybe one of the quarterbacks will come in and help us. We feel good about our old guys though and shouldn't have to play any of our new guys except DeGeare.

DS: As far as summer school, are the old guys in summer school yet and are the incoming freshmen coming in for second session?

CL: First session is mostly for guys who need it – guys who are short hours or who need it for GPA. There are a few guys who are in it to take classes they can't take during the season or whatever. Second session, we try to get everybody back. We're trying to get everybody back here and workout together and throw balls together on their own and walk through plays on their own. You've got to get into football mode for second session so even guys who don't need second session are in second session usually. The NCAA did open it this year for us to pay for incoming freshmen to come in during summer session. The athletic department has decided that the second session would be allowable for that so we have about half or a little more of our signing class coming in second session. That's something that is up to then. We don't feel like we're going to have to use any of them on the offensive side of the ball so we said ‘if you would like to be in second session summer school, it's your call.' Some guys had conflicts with all-star games so hey, no problem, enjoy your all-star game and we'll see you when two-a-days start. If they want to be on campus and want to get started then great.

DS: I know you're not on the defensive side, but what are your thoughts on the defense?

CL: Well, I'll tell you what I saw this spring. Going against our defense this spring, I thought our defense was even better than last year. I thought our offense was better this spring than we were last year and it was still harder to move the ball against our defense. I feel like their speed over there is maybe as good as it's ever been. Those linebackers that we redshirted last year, they can all do it. They got real healthy at that spot in a hurry. I really like what Coach Hood is doing scheme wise and think it's very tough on a offense. I think we can expect great things from our defense just like they produced last year.

DS: Back to the offensive side of the ball, will you all be doing anything different from last year?

CL: We're definitely tweaking some things to fit our talents. We're trying to figure out who our best eleven are. That varies. If your best eleven includes a fullback then you're more of an I team. If it includes three wide receivers and a tight end then you're more of a one back team. We're always going to carry [multiple sets] no matter what our best eleven are. We're going to have some unconventional things, shotgun things that give people weird looks. We're going to also do the wide receiver motion stuff that's been unique for us. We're going to continue what we do well but fix the things that are broken. Always for us, the #1 thing while we've been here is how are we going to get the completions. This is the same as it was at Ohio, every spring the project is work on the throw game. We're a decent running team, usually 1st or 2nd in the league in rushing every year, but the key is the throw game. We feel we were close to something last year and we really honed in on it in the spring in our throw game. I hope our completion percentage can go way up this year and that our quarterbacks and receivers play a lot faster. When I say faster I mean they know what they're doing, know the adjustments to certain blitz or coverage looks and do them like they're second nature rather than thinking and making slow decisions. I hope that we play fast in the throwing game this year…last year, that was a bit of a problem. We're not a huge offensive line so we can't take all day. The quarterback has to get the ball out of there because we can't hold the pocket all day. We don't have the big 6'7 offensive line. We're working towards that, but until we do we need to make sure the ball is getting out of there and we're not taking the big sacks. I think we took steps in the right direction and I've got high hopes – I've got high hopes this season about the throw game.

DS: What have you told Mauk and Randolph both as far as what they need to work on this summer as well?

CL: The #1 thing we try to get our guys to do is to just get together and throw in the summer. We can't be involved; the coaches cannot be out there for workouts or anything, not even weightroom workouts. Especially during second session, we want the quarterbacks in charge and we want them to organize throwing sessions with the receivers and to get DBs out there and to throw on the DBs. That's all up to them to get that done. We're asking for some leadership to organize those voluntary throwing sessions so that when we do that during the season against Vandy on Thursday night it's second nature to them and the quarterback knows where the receiver will be and how long it will take them to get there.

DS: As far as your position as offensive coordinator, what's the toughest aspect of moving to the offensive coordinator position?

I think when I was sitting beside Troy Calhoun, the old offensive coordinator, in the pressbox, I would have strong feelings about certain play calls, but not every snap. Now, you've got to come up with something every snap. Everyone is waiting on you. If you don't have a strong opinion on something, you've got to have something to go to that you will run at that point in the game. That's the toughest thing is to have a play call for everything whether it's field position, right hash, left hash, on your own 10, on the 50, on their 10, in the first quarter, in the second quarter, a lot of time left, no time left, up by seven, down by seven, first string running back is in, second string running back is in, catering to the players who are in. You have to be ready for all situations and we've emphasized the situations this spring. You have to know what your offense is and what your kids can do and call the good stuff. The hardest part is having something every snap, not just the snaps you feel strongly about.


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