The incomparable Les Johns wrote out an entire transcript from the Wake Forest media day questions. If you want to read the comments in their entirety, click the link up there, and also everyone should thank Les for his hard work! That said, let's talk some highlights.
Coach Clawson was very clear to say that he has been pleased, but far from satisfied, with his first 5 seasons at the helm.
“It’s been a really rewarding five years. But I don’t think that we’ve reached our peak. I think that you certainly go into it with a value system in terms of how you want the program run. You are learn to never deviate from your core values." He was also very candid about the value of bringing in transfers and other veteran players. "We feel we’re certainly recruiting better, but a lot of our success has come from redshirting.[...]we had nine players this year that were fifth-year seniors that could have graduated and transferred anywhere in the country and been instantly eligible. All nine of those guys, Justin included, chose to return to Wake Forest and finish their career."
To the delight of probably literally everyone reading this, Coach Clawson had some thoughts on the idea of culture, and said in no uncertain terms that, if you do it right, eventually culture becomes organic. "I think now the best programs are player-run. When you first come into a school, I think the coaches try to put in their philosophies, their standards, their culture. But then after a while, either the players grab ahold of that and continue it or it doesn’t quite catch on and those programs fizzle out."
Cade Carney had plenty to say about the offense, including the boys up front. This year it’s really fun because the left tackle is back, Justin Herron, who is coming off of a knee, is healthy. He’s ready for his sixth year as a senior. We have Nate Gilliam, who is coming back as a senior, Jake Benzinger, who is coming back in their natural positions, ready to take that on.Super excited for them. Then we have some places that are going to be filled with guys that we feel like have matured a lot and have grown into the position. They’re more than ready to take it on, Zach Tom in the center, who is a bright kid, really, really ahead of his age. I’m excited to play with him, have him IDing the front for me." I for one am glad to hear that Cade is excited for, and optimistic about, the status of the offensive line. I think the return of guys to their natural positions could be especially significant.
I was curious to hear thoughts about the situation with new defensive coordinator Lyle Hemphill, and what Justin had to say was encouraging in my opinion.
"Yeah, it’s been good. We’re pretty similar from a structure standpoint. I think we’re going to have the ability to play a little more nickel this year. I think just the spring, along with this summer, it’s been good to understand more the scheme as opposed to technique. We’ve thrown in some change-ups, some calls that I think are going to help us, big situations this year on third down, stuff like that. I think overall as a defense, I like the way we’re heading into this season."
All I can say is Thank Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith that they're specifically addressing big play and third down situations, because that was far and away the biggest issue for defense last season.
Obviously there's a glut of further insight in the full transcript, but I thought those were some of the highlights. Again, full credit and thanks to Les for his awesome transcript. Sound off in the comments section about your thoughts about these quotes or anything else from the transcript or about my insights for that matter! Thanks as always for reading, and Go Deacs.