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October 20, 2011Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe spoke with reporters Wednesday in the Atlantic Coast Conference's weekly teleconference. Grobe's Demon Deacons (4-2 overall, 3-1 ACC) play on the road this weekend in Durham against in-state rival Duke.
COACH GROBE: We got worn out pretty good this past weekend by a really good Virginia Tech team. I thought their kids played great. I thought their coaches had a good plan. I didn't think we played our best football, but I think you give a lot of credit to Virginia Tech. I thought they played really, really well.
We've got another great challenge this weekend going over to Durham and taking on Duke. I think they've got a heck of a football team and were going to have to play well to have a chance.
Q. I know everybody always asks you about your redshirting philosophy. But I'm going to ask you about your patience in regards to it. Because I would assume you have to have a lot if you're going to wait for these guys to develop and mature into the players that you want them to be. How do you do that?
COACH GROBE: Well, I think the toughest times right now are about midway through the season when you start getting some guys a little bit banged up; in a lot of cases, not serious injuries, but pulls and sprains and things like that. I think where you really notice it is on special teams. It's really hard to redshirt all your freshmen and not have the depth that you need on special teams.
But I think our concern is always trying to do, first of all, what's best for our football team in the long run, but also what's good for the kids. We really want our kids to have about 20 or 30 snaps a game to actually play them as true freshmen, and that is our concern is that if we play a young guy that he gets enough work that we don't waste a year of eligibility.
Q. Do you have enough redshirt juniors and seniors right now with this team or is it still too young for it to be the veteran team that you like?
COACH GROBE: Well, I think we're in pretty good shape right now. We've got a good
group of seniors, a group of guys that have really good attitudes and are doing a great job with our younger players as far as leadership is concerned.
We've got a pretty solid group of juniors, probably our strongest class right now is our sophomore class. So, we're going to get better as we go along with these younger guys.
So far we've been able to keep all our freshmen on the shelf. That's our plan to play a couple here down the stretch. But I think this is kind of where we want to be. We could probably have a few more juniors mixed in right now. But I think our senior class has given us what we want.
Q. How would you characterize the Duke-Wake football rivalry?
COACH GROBE: Well, I think it's a great rivalry because the games have been really, really close. That's what you look for in a rivalry, and our schools are so similar. We're academic schools playing in a big-time football league. I think we've got both of us have a bunch of kids from North Carolina.
A lot of our kids have played against each other in high school, so they've probably developed a little bit of competitiveness going against each other at the high school level, and they get up here and it continues for four years.
Our universities are very similar. Every year our games have been really, really close. We've had some barn burners playing each other since I've been at Wake Forest, and I would expect that that will continue Saturday.
Q. If I might follow up the question about the redshirting. What do you tell a kid in high school or do they even ask, what if a kid tells you it's really important for
me to play my first year?
COACH GROBE: We tell them that we're going to do everything we can to get them on the field, but that we're not going to waste a year's eligibility. What we've done primarily--not every kid--but most of the majority of the true freshmen that we've played have been starters for us.
We just tell the kids, look, if we're going to be able to get you 30 or 40 snaps a game, and it might not be that much. It might be more. We're going to play them. I have no problems playing freshmen. I just don't want to play a freshman who doesn't get enough snaps.
Last year Tanner Price started for us. Kevin Johnson at one corner started for us. A.J. Marshall at the other corner started for us. Joe Looney who is our fourth-year senior started at offensive guard when he was a true freshman. Andrew Parker started as a true freshman for us. So we've got some kids on our team right now that played as true freshmen. All the ones that I can think of started for us.
I think Chance Raines, we shouldn't have played him as a true freshman. He didn't get any reps. But I think for the majority of our freshmen that play, they know if they come to Wake Forest and we play you as a true freshman, you're going to really play. You're not going to be the tight end on a field goal team and waste a year's eligibility.
Q. Do the players ask you much while you're recruiting them? Does it ever come up?
COACH GROBE: Oh, yeah. There is no question about it. They're kids and we tell the freshmen. We want them to come in and take an old guy's job. I'd love for you to come in as a freshman and be good enough to play. But I've got security at Wake Forest. I don't have to play a true freshman because my job's in jeopardy.
So we just want the kids and their parents to know that we're going to take care of the young guys and hopefully get their four best years of football. That is my goal. If your best four years are your first four, I'm fine with it. But if you're not quite ready as a young guy, I don't have to play you to keep my job. I can do what's best for you. And if your four best years are going to be your last four years, I'm totally fine with it.
Q. The intangibles that Price and Chris Givens possess, and how that's led to so much success between the two?
COACH GROBE: Tanner's doing a nice job right now distributing the football. He doesn't have a favorite go-to guy. I think he's reading out the coverages and trying to get the ball to the open receiver.
With Chris Givens, he's just really, really matured to the point that he's doing a lot of good things right now besides just catching the football. He's running routes really well. He's playing full speed. He's working better in practice and the weight room and those kind of things.
Both of these kids are pretty good football players. They've got some of the things that you can measure as far as height and speed and, in Tanner's case, arm strength and things like that. But they're just guys that kind of get it right now. They've got a good feel for playing the game.