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August 14, 2011Wake Forest's football program held its summer Media Day Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem, and Deacons Illustrated was front and center with several questions ready for the Demon Deacon players.
Check out what several of them had to say below.
Sophomore running back Josh Harris:
(Offensive lineman) Joe [Looney] said at ACC Media when you and Brandon Pendergrass are having a great day they're having a great day. With those guys back, closer together, they're older, and used to playing together; do you feel like you guys are going to have a lot of great days this year?
"Absolutely. I feel like with this offensive line, and with the guys that we have playing it should be a great season for us. It should be a great season for us on the ground, which relates to having a great season for the guys playing receiver and our starting quarterback. Overall it means we're going to have a very successful year also."
What have you worked on most this off-season, getting ready for training camp, and this season?
"All summer I've really been working on my leg-strength, so when a guy hits me I'm not going down when I get hit just by one guy. I've been trying to work on blitz pickup, and try to help my starting quarterback out when guys are blitzing, and to make sure that he has time."
Sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro:
Is it your hamstring that's been bothering you?
"Yeah my hamstring. Tuesday I planted on it, and felt a little tug on it. It's nothing too serious. I've had a few problems in the past with hamstrings. This was not as bad. I'm just taking my time, and trying to get back as soon as possible, but at the same time I don't want to come back too early."
So are they going to be holding you out of the scrimmage Monday?
"Yes, I won't be scrimmaging Monday. I'm working with the training staff. They're slowly bringing me back. They know what to do with me. We don't play Syracuse tomorrow, which is good. I have some time."
Senior offensive guard Joe Looney:
What do you think it's going to take to get this team back to its winning ways?
"I think it's going to take hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Our team came back this summer I felt like we had a sense of urgency. We understood what happened last season. I think we understood that's not what kind of football that we play, and that's not what our coaches expect out of us."
"I think everybody understands their job, and what they have to do to benefit this team to be a better football team. We have to refuse to lose. We've got to want it more than other teams."
What did you learn most in the off-season, and now into training camp?
"I think the thing I learned the most is just how bad our team really wants to come back this season, and play football. I think a lot of people were very disappointed with last season, as we should be, but I think our team is looking at that as motivation. We all want to come back, and win football games, and be a good caliber football team."
Sophomore defensive lineman Nikita Whitlock:
On the team's attitude.:
"I definitely think our attitude changed during the spring. I definitely think that we became real confident, and that we feel that we can come out and do good things this year."
Obviously the disappointment of losing, but was there anything else in particular that helped with that confidence?
"I don't know. It was very sudden, and very out of nowhere. We went into spring, and we told each other, 'Man we're going to go out here and work hard, and do our thing. As spring progressed we progressed, and as we progressed we just started building that confidence."
"A lot of it had to do with the coaches. The coaches really helped us with that. I think that was maybe one of their goals was to get our confidence back in."
Head Coach Jim Grobe:
On last season's struggles.
"That's the first time since we've been here we've had at least a handful of games that the fourth quarter didn't mean anything, and I think that's something our players are on a little bit of a mission to make fourth quarters meaningful again, and they weren't last year in a lot of cases."
"That's one of the things that I think is important for us that our kids get back to the idea that every time we take the field we're going to have a shot late to win it."
How much of it is it really the offensive line?
"Oh it's huge. It's huge. It's a big, big part. Tanner (Price) at times, the O-line didn't protect him. At times the backs put the ball on the ground, reasons we were off the field when we shouldn't have been. We should've stayed on the field, and at times receivers dropped possession throws that hit them in the hands, and they dropped them."
"I pointed out to our team also Tanner had a lot of bad plays. He didn't play very well at times. It was a bad year for everybody, but it always, always, always starts upfront."
"I've never seen a good offensive football team with a bad offensive line. It just never happens. Our guys know there's a big responsibility on them. I expect to be better. We've got four senior starters, and a junior center, and I think we're developing a little depth right now."
"Some of our younger linemen are starting to look better in drills, and in scrimmage stuff, but that's where it'll all start. We've got some capable backs, some capable tight ends and receivers, and certainly we have a lot of confidence in our quarterbacks, but we've got to get people blocked."
Isn't that the same for defense?
"No question about that. Our best teams were good on defense, and good in special teams. That's when we've been our very best. One of the things that I think is really going to help us we're not a real big football team. We don't have a lot of big guys up front, but we have some very athletic guys up front."
"I think we're in the scheme we need to be in. The 3-4 is what we need to be in. We had too many freshman linemen last year, so going to three of them rather than having four of those guys on the field was good for us. I think we're probably going to have to keep them fresh, because we're not very big. That's going to be our biggest issue I think."
Did you have to inject a degree of confidence in your defense this summer, because I'm sure they didn't have a lot last fall?
"It's really funny. The thing that happens when you play so many young kids, I'd have to go back and check, but I'm thinking at times last year we had as many as seven freshmen on the field defensively at the same time. They don't always just draw on their experience at that time. So many of our kids were on great high school football programs. They won a lot of games, so they don't have one bad season, and just say I'm terrible, and lose all of their confidence."
"They've won enough games throughout their career that they know that they're capable of doing that again. We have smart kids at Wake Forest. That's a good thing, and when they looked around and saw these young guys out there they realized we're a pretty young team to be playing the schedule we played last year."
"I think the thing that gives our guys some confidence is they've all gotten bigger, and faster, and stronger in the off-season. They're all a year wiser, and a year tougher. The kids we're putting on the field right now, this sophomore group that played a lot of snaps last year they have a different look to them. They have a different demeanor. They know the defense."
"One of the problems we had last year was a lot of our kids didn't really feel comfortable with the calls, reading keys. I would venture to guess there were times we had guys that didn't know whether we made a man or a zone coverage call. Just looking at venders, selling drinks in the stands."
"We're focusing better right now. It's a different feel to this team. I keep talking about that, but it doesn't feel like a bunch of rookies out there right now. That's a good feeling."