Below is a transcript of what Coach Clawson had to say during Wednesday’s weekly ACC head coaches teleconference. If you want to check out what the other head coaches had to say, you can check out the full list here. Many thanks to ASAP Sports for providing the transcription service for the ACC.
COACH CLAWSON: Yeah, we were excited to start the season 1-0. It's always good to win the opener, but at the same time we made a lot of mistakes and there's a lot of room for improvement in terms of offensive execution, special teams, and defense. We need to get it fixed in a hurry, because we play a very good Duke football program this Saturday. Duke's been to four consecutive bowls. They're off to a 1-0 start. They've recruited very well and they've graduated good players and they've replaced them with other good players. So we're very impressed with them defensively. They have a veteran secondary. They're very athletic up front. As always, they're physical on the O-line. They've got two excellent backs and their quarterback got off to a very good start and they're athletic and they have playmakers on the outside. So this will be a great challenge to go on the road for our opening ACC game of the year.
Q. Your quarterbacks John Wolford and Kendall Hinton, what you can say coming out of Game 1 where obviously offense was a struggle, and how you assess utilizing them either together or separate going forward?COACH CLAWSON: Well, we had a plan going into the season, and I don't think you blow it up after one game, but it's something we continue to evaluate. At times it worked well. One of the things in playing Georgia Southern is when you play a triple option team like that and you don't cut off the field on third down, you don't get to run a lot of plays. And we only had really four drives in the first half. Three of them were extended drives, and we had one three-and-out. And then in the second half we really only had four drives until we were in a four-minute situation. It might have been five drives. So we did not play well in the second half, and we didn't have the ball very much.
So both John and Kendall did good things. John, I thought, threw the ball well, and we should have made a couple of plays on the perimeter that we didn't make. And if we make some of those plays, it's a different game, and I think we feel different offensively. But the bottom line is we didn't make those plays, and as a result we were not nearly as productive on offense as we need to be.
Q. As far as Cade Carney and Matt Colburn, just what you can say about the running game moving forward, and positives and obviously teachable moments that you took away from Game 1 as well?COACH CLAWSON: Well, again, we've got to get better across the board. The positive is we didn't turn the football over. We converted about half of our third downs. We had the ball once in the red zone and we scored a touchdown. The negative is we had too many three-and-outs, especially in the second half, and we didn't make explosive plays in the run game or the pass game. It's very hard against any defense, let alone good defenses, to have 12- and 15-play drives. At some point you have to make explosives, and that was probably the biggest disappointment from last Thursday is our inability to make big plays in the running game or the passing game.
Q. The offensive problems, did you see this coming? Did you see yourself in fall camp and privately worry, Geez, I don't know if this offense is ready to go? Week one, it might be a gradual process this year?COACH CLAWSON: No, we're better on offense. Unfortunately, that didn't show up week one. But we have a good defense here, and our offense moved the ball against the defense all camp, and that had never happened here before.
So we did not play up to our capabilities. We didn't play up to the standard that we expect ourselves to play to, and we need to get better and I'm confident we will. We have playmakers. We have guys that can make plays. Unfortunately, we did not play well enough or execute well enough on Thursday, and some of the guys were counting on to make plays didn't make those plays. But we have every confidence they can make them and they will make them moving forward.
Q. You said you don't want to blow up your quarterback playing week one. At what point as a coach do you think, okay, I need to make a decision on a quarterback or I need to go with what I've seen so far in games? How do you make that assessment?COACH CLAWSON: Yeah, I think you let it play out week by week. As I said before, one of the challenges last week is we only ran 50 plays or so. I think we had 56 snaps and three of them were knees and six of them were on a four-minute offense late in the game that you're trying to protect the lead. And credit to Tulane that they ran that triple option well, and as well as we played on defense, we didn't get off the field on third down as much as we need to.
The frustrating thing on offense is we give the ball up and then we wouldn't get it back. Then when we got it back in the second half, we were constantly playing in negative field position. And we'd make a few first downs and flip the field, but we did not make explosive plays to score points, and it's hard to score a lot of points when you don't make explosives.
Q. Duke's defense got off to a good start last week against Central, really limited those explosive plays. Have you tweaked anything this week to kind of get that offense going? Did you see through that defense after studying them for a couple days now?COACH CLAWSON: Well, to begin with, Duke is very good on defense. You look at their secondary, and we've been playing against the same players now for three straight years. They're really a five secondary system, two corners and three safeties. And four of those five are seniors, the other is a red-shirt junior and they're very experienced, and they've played together a long time and they are fundamentally sound. They communicate very well. They're rarely out of position. They don't give up big plays, and they're a little younger up front, but certainly very physical and very athletic.
They play very smart defense. They do what they do. They know what they're doing and it's hard to get them out of position. So I think like every week on offense you tweak what you do depending on the defense you see. Duke is structurally different from what we faced at Tulane, but the challenge is still the same. That you have to execute at a high level and you've got to be able to protect, and throw the ball and catch the ball and hit the open seams. So we're working -- I think at this point of the year as much as we're attacking what Duke does, we've got to make sure what we're doing as we're getting better.
So the challenge is twofold. We need to improve from week one, and we're going against a challenging group to do that against.
Q. You're going up against a red-shirt freshman quarterback that you've barely seen play. I mean, he didn't even play a whole half really Saturday. Can you talk about what you see and what do you do to attack a guy with that little experience?COACH CLAWSON: Well, I mean, Duke is very much a system offense that they're extremely well coached. The kids know what they're doing. They've been in the same system for some years now, and Daniel Jones is very intelligent. He has a live arm, he's a good athlete. We liked him a lot out of high school and we recruited him. We knew he'd be a very good college football player. And I think it's one thing when you break in a new quarterback, but it's a lot easier to do that when they're surrounded by experienced players.
Duke on the offensive line has four of their five players that start for them are in the fourth year in the program. They have a fifth-year tight end. They have a fifth-year receiver. They have a fifth-year receive tailback and a junior tailback, so he's surrounded by an experienced, very good supporting cast. And what he needs to do is execute their offense. So, again, he's talented, he's athletic. They're running their offense with him, and it's an offense that those players know what they're doing.
Q. Also one of your best offensive weapons is your tight end. In their opener they threw to the tight end a lot. Is that something we're likely to see a lot Saturday night or Saturday afternoon?COACH CLAWSON: Throwing the ball tower tight end?
Q. Well, both sides throwing to the tight end, yeah.COACH CLAWSON: Yeah, I think we're both offenses that like to use the tight end. Duke traditionally has used the tight end very well, and our leading receiver here the last few years has been our tight end, Cam Serigne.
So I don't know if it's so much by design, but when you have good players at that position, you try to get them the football and certainly Cam Serigne is a guy we try to get the ball to, just as I'm sure Schneider and Helm are guys they're going to try to get the ball to.