Orange Bowl: Coach Grobe Quotes

Selected quotes from Jim Grobe's press conference Thursday as the Deacs prepare for the Orange Bowl.

COACH JIM GROBE: Well, we're really excited to be here. Obviously when we got in yesterday we had a great reception from the Orange Bowl Committee. Players are very appreciative of everything the Orange Bowl people have done. We've been welcomed with open arms, and we're excited about playing football. Hopefully we'll have some good practices this week and be ready to go.

Q. Did you get all your players in last night, everybody here now? Yesterday at the Orange Bowl when you came in you said you had some guys traveling here on their own.
COACH JIM GROBE: We did. We had one of our kids, I think, had some problems with luggage and whatnot, but we finally got him settled and had everybody at breakfast this morning at 6:30. So we're getting ready.

Q. What's Kevin Harris' status, and are there any other injuries that we should be aware of?
COACH JIM GROBE: Well, I think Kevin is okay for the game. He practiced last week, was not full speed but was able to go through all of our practices. We're hopeful that by the time we play, he'll be ready to go. Of course we're very hopeful that Kenny Moore will be full speed. That's a real key for us is having Kenny ready to go. I would hope that we wouldn't have to play Kevin a whole lot in the game, but we'll see how that turns out. And Nate Morton is probably a concern for us with his finger. He had the compound dislocation in practice catching a football and had to have some stitches and whatnot. We think he's going to be ready to go. We'll know a little bit more as he's able to practice this week, see what he's able to do as far as blocking and catching the football.

Q. Just some general thoughts about your program, where it is right now, the opportunity this game presents for you guys and this more or less meteoric rise to where you are now.
COACH JIM GROBE: I'm not sure that we can actually tell what it means for our future. I think it certainly bodes well. We've never had a problem selling Wake Forest. We've got one of the best schools in the country. I don't know that we've ever lost a parent in recruiting. Moms and dads want their kids to come to Wake Forest. The problem for us has always been selling football, that kids can come to Wake Forest and do all the things they dream about on the football field, and I think now that we've won an ACC Championship and we're in the Orange Bowl, that's going to be obviously a much easier sell.

Q. What are your impressions of Brian Brohm from the film you've watched, I mean, his strengths and what you're going to have to do to kind of contain him?
COACH JIM GROBE: Well, he's probably the best quarterback we've faced. I thought Boston College's quarterback was very good. But Brian has all the throws. He really manages the offense well, he has all the underneath stuff, but he's got the arm strength to get the ball down the field. You know, he's got a great supporting cast, really fine offensive line and great skill players. Brian Brohm is really, really special, but in addition to having a great quarterback, they've got a lot of kids around him that make plays. It keeps our defensive staff up late at night.

Q. Talk about, without giving away too many trade secrets, what's the secret to your success? Why do you think both this year specifically but also in general you've been able to build this program?
COACH JIM GROBE: Well, this is a year that has really been special for me as a coach. This is our first year with a fully recruited fifth year senior class, and I think most of the credit has to go to our players. We've got a more mature football team, we've got a little bit more depth than we've had in the past. I would say that we really don't have a superstar on our football team. I don't know that we have a readily recognizable name on our football team right now. But we've got a really good football team. It's just been one of those groups that you enjoy getting to work in the morning, you enjoy going to practice, you love taking the field with those guys on Saturday, and without any all-solar-system type guys, we've just got a good group of kids that like to play football.

Q. You spoke earlier about this being your first fully recruited fifth year class. In your grand master plan to build a Wake Forest program, has that worked out the way you kind of envisioned it when you took this job?
COACH JIM GROBE: Yeah, I think most coaches come into the program, especially if you're trying to build a program, and you've got a plan. I mean, you've got some idea for how you want to make things happen. We learned a lot at Ohio University, my first head coaching job. We played too many true freshman when we were at Ohio University, and some of our very best players were fourth year guys for us, and we always wondered what it would be like to have those guys as fifth year seniors. So that became a foundation for us at Wake Forest. We felt that to be competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference we were going to have to have an older, more mature football team. So the nice thing at Wake Forest, our athletic director bought into that plan. I think sometimes at some schools the athletic director is in his office and he's got a plan for the future and the football coach is in his office and he's got a plan for the future, but the two haven't talked about their plans for the future. So in this case I'm really blessed that I've got an athletic director that will meet with me at least once a week, and we talk about where we're going and what we need to do. Everything that Ron Wellman has told me he would do, he's added to that. He's done more than he promised. So we've got just a really, I think in some cases, unique and fun situation in that the head football coach and the athletic director were on the same page about what needed to happen at Wake Forest. Now, you never know how it's going to turn out, but so far it's turned out pretty good.

Q. You talked about the maturity and the experience of your players. Is that one of the reasons why you were able to go undefeated on the road and maybe you're not worried about the trappings of Bowl week, maybe experiencing new things this week and you know they'll be focused on the game? COACH JIM GROBE: Obviously I'm still worried about the Bowl trappings this week. But it's been obviously great for us to have an older group of players. I think typically what has happened to us, if you follow Wake Forest the last two or three years, a lot of the games that we won this year on the last play of the game or last series of the game, we lost in the past. And so I think this season is kind of the culmination of a lot of heartbreak. We've had so many games over the past two or three years that have gone right to the wire that we didn't come out on top. We've won some big games, we've won some close games, but we just didn't win our share. So I think when you look at this season if you've followed Wake for the past two or three years, you can see so many instances where the game could have gone either way, and I think the older players found a way to win for us, and I think a lot of that is just due to experience. You know, we've been in those situations so many times in the past that this year we just found a way to get it done.

Q. This is Brian Piccolo's home town. Could you talk about his legacy and the impact maybe he still has on the program?
COACH JIM GROBE: Well, obviously we're awfully proud of Brian Piccolo, and I think that it's hard to put into words his impact at Wake Forest because throughout the years without having a lot of success year in and year out as a team, not having the opportunity to go to a lot of Bowl games and do things as a team that you're proud of, a lot of times it falls back on individual players that you have to draw pride from, and I think Brian Piccolo is one of those guys that's always been one of the guys that stands out in our minds as one of our great, great players. So we're awful proud of Brian Piccolo, and he's been great for our football program as far as recruiting and tradition.

Q. As you were talking about your team and where they started and where you are now this year, it made me wonder, did you see their attitude change as you went through this season, their expectations of themselves?
COACH JIM GROBE: What we've noticed with this football team, it's just been a really easy football team to coach. We noticed that last year and when our workouts as we went into spring football practice, a lot of the things over the past two or three years we've had to be pretty demanding about, you know, work ethic and practice habits and playing four quarters, all those kind of things, we've not had to say very much to this football team...

Q. Antonio Wilson and Alphonso Smith from the same small hometown, Pahokee, Florida, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about their recruitment and being both those players come from the same place helped their development on your team?
COACH JIM GROBE: Well, they've both turned into not only good football players but they're just really good kids. I think Antonio is a guy that's going to be a really good football player. He's getting bigger and stronger. He's a really good pass rusher, he's starting to do a better job playing against the run. He's a guy that's played more here at the end of the year. But I think the bright part for Antonio is I think he's got a great future for us. Alphonso Smith had a great freshman year, did not start out the season real good for us. I think he was just pressing too hard. He was trying to make every play on the field. I think after the first three or four games when he settled down and just started playing the scheme, he's become a big part of our success this year, very talented kid. I think any time you get a player -- they're really good friends, and I think we got an early commitment out of Antonio, and I think that that influenced Alphonso. Sometimes if you're not careful you try to package deal guys. We really don't want to do that. We took Antonio Wilson only based on his ability, that we thought we could be a really good player for us at Wake Forest. But the nice thing about that is I think that helped Alphonso decide to come to Wake Forest, and we couldn't be happier with those two guys.


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