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July 24, 2012

Jim Grobe Q-&-A

Jim Grobe enters his 12th season in Winston-Salem as Wake Forest's head coach.

In his tenure at Wake the Demon Deacons are 68-67 (37-51 ACC), won an ACC championship, and have made five bowl appearances.

He hopes to build on last season's 6-7 (5-3 ACC) finish and run to the Music City Bowl.

Grobe spoke with Deacons Illustrated at the ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, NC.

Nikita Whitlock and Tanner Price were talking about wanting to finish well this year, wanting to do a better job with that. What are some things as a coaching staff you all are trying to do to drill that into the guys heads? "We do a lot of things in practice. We do a lot of two-minute drills to try to put the kids in pressure situations and try to simulate late game situations as much as possible, but really it's experience more than anything else."

"Last year we had a chance … we didn't get the Syracuse game, we didn't get the Clemson. We were right there with a chance [and] we didn't get the bowl game with Mississippi State, so I think as much as anything it's experience and maturity."

"I may be off a little bit, but somewhere around 60 games we've had in my 11 years that have been right at the finish line, the last possession, next to last possession kind of thing, a blocked field goal, an interception, a fumble recovery, good and bad, certainly our wins."

"That's kind of who we are. I think with the schedule we play we're a team that wants you in the fourth quarter with a shot."

When you look at last season you go from three wins to six wins, you make a bowl game, but then you don't win that and you finish with a losing record. How successful of a season is that? "I think if you look at our past we haven't been to a whole lot of bowl games at Wake Forest, so I think if you're not careful you can kind of downplay being in a bowl game and being in a pretty bowl game against a pretty good football team. We might take that for granted, and we shouldn't do that at Wake Forest."

"We've been to a handful of bowl games. I don't know exactly how many, but not very many, so going to bowl games are a very good goal for us. I think we got to feel like that's a good thing that happened to us, but we only won six games last year. I feel good about being in a bowl game, but I don't think winning six is something you spend too much time patting yourself on the back about. I hope we get in another bowl game this year and I would be happy to do that however we did it, but I think we've got a group of players right now that want to win more than six games."

"We had a chance last year in some games. We played a really rugged schedule. We played a bunch of bowl teams the last half of the season and lost to some pretty good football teams, so a lot of people really think you fizzed down the stretch, but if you look at the teams we were playing we were playing pretty good teams and that's kind of our dilemma at Wake Forest."

"We can be a pretty good football team, but with our schedule not have much to show for it. I thought last year we had a pretty good football team, [and] we played some really good football teams."

Were there any common threads that you had the leads in and then you couldn't finish off? "Yeah, I think the common thread was I thought we played good teams. You've got to play four quarters, and you've got to play four quarters and you've got to play to the finish. I think our kicking game hurt us in a couple of those games."

"Clemson, we missed a short field goal, but I think we had three interceptions and we had our hands on five other balls that we didn't come up with, just a matter of making plays when it counts. Typically it's a problem it's a problem with more inexperienced players."

"I think the year we won the [ACC] Championship I might be wrong I think we had five games that year that went literally to the last possession. I remember [Jon] Abbate picking a ball at Carolina. I remember Chip Vaughn blocking a field goal against Duke. I think Josh Gattis picked one off late in the fourth quarter at NC State. We win at NC State, because Sam Swank kicks three field goals 50 [yards] or better."

"Those are the things we got to continue, be great in the kicking game and when the game gets late in the fourth quarter somebody has got to step up and make a play. To me that was what got us this year. We got late in the fourth quarter with a couple of teams and didn't make the plays we needed to win."

"Whether it's offensively or defensively we got to realize we're going to be in a lot of those games. When we get into close games somebody has got to step up and make a play."

That second game of the year the last couple of years you've played that home game against an ACC, against a state rival. You took out Duke two years ago, last year NC State came up there, 'Oh we've got Wake Forest,' and you beat them. You got Carolina in this one. Do you kind of like having that game in that slot, that ACC game at home that early? "No. I like it if we win. That's the only time I like it. It's a little shaky playing a game that important that early. Playing big-time games early in the season that's when your kicking game is not as solid, you tend not to take as good of care of the football. You're more apt to fumble or throw picks. It's tough playing an important game early."

Coach, your staff has been through a lot lately, especially Coach Elrod and his family and Coach Lobotzke and his family too. Does football feel like it doesn't really matter, and how are you all coping as a staff? "This never changes … family comes first over football all the time, but there's a place for both for taking care of your family and finding a way to get to the practice field and get your kids coached and be competitive. We'll work through this."

"We've had some really crazy situations here this summer, and of course our hearts are with Tommy and Mo [Elrod], just a sad, but we'll get over it. We'll work through it."


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