Wake Forest Head Coach Jim Grobe "We were a really beat-up football team at the end of the year and I think we're relatively healthy going into this game."
On whether he's sick of playing UConn, having faced the Huskies for three years straight...
"I don't know if we're sick of seeing the Huskies on film as much as we're impressed with how good they are. That's the problem. The good news is we're in a bowl game. The bad news is we've got to play a really good football team."
On how last year's game is affecting preparation...
"Obviously, they've been in place for a long time so there is probably some carryover. It's been a long time since we've looked at these guys and I don't know if there is a lot of recall right now. I do think that as a coaching staff we may have a little better feel for each other but I'm not sure the players have any carryover from last year."
On how much leeway he gives the players over the course of the bowl trip...
"We've been with these guys for a long time. These are our kids and we know them pretty good. That doesn't mean kids won't make mistakes. We do that from time to time. We've got such a good group of kids. We try to treat them no differently here than we would on campus. We don't have curfews for these guys on campus. They can go do whatever they want to after they leave practice. We treat them the same way. We're a little worried being in the middle of the city. You want the kids to be careful and we've talked to them about that. I think our guys are mature enough to concentrate on playing football. I hope that's the case. We haven't had any problems so far. Sometimes the rookies have more problems than the older guys. It's funny, the first couple of nights you don't have a curfew for the guys but you don't see guys out late because they know they have to get up at the crack of dawn to meet. There's a little method to the madness."
On the importance of winning the bowl game versus simply playing in one...
"There's no question. High school coaches that are in playoffs, divisions in college that have playoffs, feel the same way. You get into the playoffs and you feel great about it but if you don't win it all you have a bad taste in your mouth. Bowl games are the same way. Your goal at the start of the season is to play in a bowl game. Then you get to one and everybody's so fired-up and excited about doing it. You have a great trip, do some neat stuff, but if you don't win the football game you go home with a sour taste in your mouth. It's important to play well and win. There's no question."
On if Wake Forest is ready to play tomorrow...
"I think we are. You never really know for bowl games. When you've had a month from playing your last game it makes things a little bit tougher to figure out where you are. There's no science to this. I've been in a lot of bowl games as an assistant coach and three here at Wake Forest and there's no science to putting the plan together. You try to do the best you can. You work around final exams. You have to give them time to study. You have to give them some time off to heal-up. You have to try to work hard enough that you play well but if you work too hard, the kids are miserable and don't play well. From a mental perspective, we're ready to go. We'll find out if we're physically ready when we kick-off."
On preparing for a bowl game versus a regular season game...
"Our problem is that we were playing pretty good at the end of the year. When we played N.C. State, I thought we had a great game. I thought when we went to Vanderbilt we were pretty banged-up but we played really, really good at their place and won. We were kind of on a roll a little bit and you'd like to just keep on playing but at the same time playing in a bowl game has got to be fun. If we could treat the players like we did in August I'd feel a little better. We've had about 14 practices and I think that's enough. I think we're ready to go. I think we want to go play a football game and I think that's important."
Wide Receiver Kenny Moore
On if Alphonso Smith has made him a better receiver...
"We definitely work on each other. When we're in practice, we're going on it. We talk trash to each other, but there's a lot of pride too. One day it's him getting better than me and then the next day it's me getting better than him. But I tell him that I'll win every time. I feel like if I can beat him, I can beat any corner in the NCAA. He's a lockdown corner. He's going to go at you and be physical when he needs to and then play off of you. We've made each other better. We've made each other into who we are today and I definitely thank him for that. He'll tell me what I'm doing wrong. I'll tell him what he's doing wrong. It's been a learning experience for me."
On his confidence level rising this season...
"What was big for me was that I got a new receiving coach, who gave me more confidence. I learned some new ways of running routes and basically got the freedom to do what I need to do to get open. It was something I always had, but when the new coach came in there was a new morale."
On how UConn will defend him...
"They'll probably have somebody on top of me the whole game. I can imagine them having a linebacker to slow me down, especially if I'm in the slot. Then they'll have someone over the top. You never know what they'll come out with. They've had a month to prepare so, you never know."
Quarterback Riley Skinner
On the importance of winning the bowl game
"Our whole team realizes that. We had a memorable time down in Miami but it could have been more memorable if we would have won the game. It still leaves a bitter taste in you mouth. That's what we want to do Saturday; leave here with a win. That will make the bowl week even more special."
Defensive End Jeremy Thompson
On Linebacker Aaron Curry
"He's full of energy. He's always out there live-wired, yelling. He's always around the ball. His energy rubs-off on us. He's the vocal leader of our defense. He's positive. He'll be there to congratulate you if you make a big play and pat you on the helmet. He just incites energy in other people."
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