Weekly Press Conference Video & Quotes: Nov. 14
Nov. 14, 2017

Head Coach Dave Clawson

Opening Statement:
“I want to start off our press conference by congratulating our men’s soccer team for winning the ACC Championship. This makes it three-straight years that either Bobby Muuss and I have won an ACC Coach of the Year award. We’re the only soccer/football coach duo in the nation to do that… We’re hoping to keep that streak going. It was awesome for them to win the way they did and have the number one seed in the NCAA playoffs. It’s great to see our other sports have such success. We’re trying to catch them.

“The Syracuse win was a really big win for our program. Anytime we can win a game on the road from behind in the fourth quarter, especially in the conference, is a huge win. Down 17, then down 14, I’m proud of the resilience of the team and our leadership. I think that’s the difference of a team that hopes they can win and a team that believes they can win. I think a team that hopes they can win when they fall behind gives up hope but a team that believes they can win is going to fight and do those things necessary to get back in the game and win it. It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to win it but the locker room at halftime was not a defeated locker room. It was a mad locker room. A disappointed, ‘we’re better than that’, ‘we can win this game’ locker room. I think the most positive thing to come out of that game, other than how we played in the second half, is how the leadership of our football team handled halftime. In the locker room, the players handled it. That was great to see especially on the defensive side of the ball. Guys like Wendell Dunn and Grant Dawson and Jaboree Williams. We were playing a lot of young guys. We were playing six freshmen, who were playing significant time for us on Saturday. Up front, we had Boogie Basham, Sulaiman Kamara, Ja’Cquez Williams and in the back we had Luke Masterson, Ja’Sir Taylor, Coby Davis. Some of those guys struggled in the first half and then really stepped up in the second half. I just thought one of the keys to the game was Coby Davis in the nickel, that was really good. We have him a tough assignment in man coverage and he did well. Our corners’ ability to play the deep ball was one too. One of the adjustments we made at halftime was to play some more man coverage and that was going to put a lot of stress on Davis and our corners. That was stress we did not want to put on them but their ability to play the deep ball in the second half was huge for us. Offensively, what can you say. John Wolford played well. It all starts with the offensive line. Those guys are all playing at a high level. You can just go down the line of our skilled kids: 300 yard receivers, a 200 yard back, a 300 yard passer, a 100 yard rusher. You aren’t going to see those numbers too often but it happened at the right time for us.



“Moving ahead, I can’t tell you how impressed I am with NC State. This year has been in the making for them. It’s Dave Doeren’s fifth year there. It’s his football team, all guys that he recruited. This is one of the top two or three teams that we will play all year. That goes across the board from a personnel stand point, they’re extremely well coached. A lot is made in their defensive front. Across the board, this is as good of a defensive front as we’ve faced. They start nine seniors on defense. These guys deserve and have earned all of the accolades that they have received. Bradley Chubb is probably a first rounder. I’m not an NFL scour but he gets better every year. He is a dominating player. Usually a player like that, you can try to cheat on or slide over protection to. You know the progress of their defensive line, there’s nobody you can’t give attention to. B.J. Hill, Justin Jones, Kentavius Street, Ben Fraizer, Eurndraus Bryant, all of these guys are really high level players. They’re extremely well coached. They’re really good in red zone defense. All of these guys have been playing in the system. This is not a team that mis-fits stuff or blows coverages. They’re really good. Offensively, I think their coordinator does one of the best jobs in the conference. It’s almost surgical the way that he picks people apart. We have never defended these guys well. Last year we were down 17-0 at the quarter. Two years ago, we were down 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. They’ve done a great job of getting their guys ready to play our game and I have not done as good of a job in this game with our football team. The last two years, after a quarter, we’ve been down 45-0 combined in those two games and we’ve never given ourselves a chance. Ryan Finley is a really smart player. He’s gifted. He can make every throw. They have full field reads so he is running an NFL type passing game that a lot of their reads of the ball can go anywhere. If you see how the ball is distributed, that plays out. They have an extremely talented tailback in Nyheim Hines. He’s a homerun threat every play of the game as a tailback, a receiver, a kick receiver and a punt returner. He is extremely gifted and fast. He’s a big play waiting to happen. Obviously, Jaylen Samuels is incredibly productive. They play him everywhere: as a tight end, a fullback, as a tailback, a slide, a receiver. He does all of those things remarkably well. All three of the receivers they play, Stephen Louis, Jakobi Meyers, Kelvin Harmon, they all have four touchdowns. They don’t care where the ball goes. Hines will get his touches, Samuels will get his touches and then they drop back. They feel good about the ball going to any of those receivers."

"At the end of the day they can beat us so it’s always hard to defend a team that has a really good offensive line. These guys are. They can run that stretch play as well as anybody in the country. They have a smart quarterback, a game-breaking tailback utility guy and three guys in the perimeter that can beat you. They’re extremely well coached. They are a nightmare to defend. They create more formations and have more rulebreakers for your defense. If they find that one formation that you aren’t sound to, you’re going to see it over and over again. It is a very difficult prep week because of the things they do formationally and their skill level. They’re really good in the kicking game too. The return game for them, they average 16-17 yards per punt return. They have good returns but they’ll come after punts. They’ve blocked three punts this year. Anytime you kick the ball deep to Hines you just have to hold your breath. If you don’t kick it deep to them, give them the ball at the 35 yard line so pick your poison. This is a big week. It’s an in-state rivalry game which means a lot to our players. We have not played these guys well the last two to three years. We have to have a great week of prep and show up ready to play because this is a really good football team.”

On the offensive performance against Syracuse:
“It was neat to see it clicking. You begin to appreciate what a high level the kids are playing at right now. John (Wolford) is playing so well right now. He’s been very accurate. Some of the throws he made, the guys weren’t open by much. If you’re Syracuse, you’re saying, “how much better can we defend it?” The throw to Tabari Hines on play-action was just a dart. He’s recognizing blitz. That catch that Cam (Serigne) had down the seam on third-and-13 was huge for us. We ended up scoring on that drive, so if we don’t get that, it’s a different football game. We had some great individual performances, but it all comes back to the offensive line. That allows John (Wolford) to have time. That allows guys to get open. It opens up everything for us.”

“This week is going to be a challenge and they know it. They know how good NC State’s front is. We feel great about how we played, but we have another challenge in front of us in NC State.”

On getting a field goal just before half:
“It was big, because normally in that situation you just take a knee. We took a shot because it was a three-score game. We just wanted to get to the 35 and give Weaver a shot. Not only was John’s play to Tabari (Hines) huge, but (Matt) Colburn made a heads up play by getting down to stop the clock. We called timeout before that and told the guys that we wanted five or so more yards and get it to the 25. We wanted them to know to not extend the play. It’s against every instinct of the running back to see open field and go down. It was such a heads up, smart play by Matt Colburn because then we were able to make it a two-score game and we started the second half with the ball.”

“Because of the way Syracuse plays, a two-score game didn’t feel like as big of a deficit. 30 minutes against Syracuse is more like three quarters in a normal game. We knew there were going to be a lot more possessions left and that played to our advantage in the second half.”

On the team’s better play in the second half and the offensive improvements:
“It has a lot to do with our confidence level. You have a team and you have an idea of how things are going to progress. Until you get into the thick of it and play good teams, you really don’t know the personality of your team. I knew we were going to play faster this year. I thought this was a year where we could win games 28-24 or 31-28. I didn’t envision this year that it would end up like it has. Right now, our offense is playing with a lot of confidence. When we’re down 14, the last three years, that’s probably not a game we win or could have won. Our offense wasn’t capable of scoring that way.

“I think a lot of it is just confidence. Our receivers know how well John’s playing. The way that we’re spreading the ball around, if you’re a receiver, every play you’re alive. It’s human nature that when you think you’re getting the ball, you’re going to go a little faster. There were a lot of plays in that game. Our defense played over 100 snaps and our offense played over 90. It was enjoyable to watch the film, but that was as long of a film as I’ve ever watched.”

On Cam Serigne:
“He’s a complete player. He was always a good receiver and route runner. He was tight end playing receiver, but now he’s a true tight end. He’s a good blocker. He understands coverages. He knows where the seams are. I think he and John always have had a good rapport. It’s a trust and it shows that there is no substitute for time. If you go back to practices and games and summer workouts, those guys have worked together a lot over the last four years. They really are in sync right now.”

Senior quarterback John Wolford

On the game against Syracuse:
"We obviously had a good game this last Saturday and it was a lot of fun. Our guys stepped up across the board. You could look at the offensive line, or receiving corps, Cam (Serigne), Matt (Colburn), everyone. So, it was a really big game for us on offense and in the second half the defense stepped up. It was a team win and we're happy we got it done, but obviously we have a tough game this week."

On the second half of the game:
"It's a lot of fun when you get rolling and you're scoring that much. You get into a groove. It's not ever easy, but when you're scoring that much it makes it a lot of fun."

On some of the challenges against NC State:
"They are extremely talented across the board on defense, so obviously the thing that gets the most publicity is their D-line and their D-line is legit, so that will be a challenge for us. They've got a good linebacker corps and a good secondary. We're not going to get anything cheap against them. They're going to line up and play hard so it’s going to come down to who executes better on both sides of the ball."

On the offense clicking:
"I think we're being aggressive. We're not turning the ball and we're doing the things effective offenses do. All those things start to add up. We're playing with confidence right now, but we can't get complacent or act like we've ever arrived. We're working to get better each day, but we're happy with where we're at right now. There is always room to improve."

Redshirt senior tight end Cam Serigne

On the win against Syracuse:
"It always feels great to get a win in the ACC, especially on the road. I think as a team we persevered through the game. We were down at points and that's when we came through, so it was a pretty good feeling."

On the resiliency of the team:
"Those kinds of games are kind of gut-checks. At halftime you're down, so you have two choices, you can either fold or keep fighting like we did."

On moving forward in the season:
"Whenever you have a good game, it's just doing your job. Whatever you're asked to do, you've got to do it at the best of your ability and if it's to catch a lot of passes that's great, if it's to block that's great. We do what we need to do, so we just do our job."

On the game against NC State to come:
"For us it's about being consistent, we don't want to be an on-and-off offense, or defense, or team. So, we just have to bring the same consistency and work ethic every week. Knowing each week is a new week, the previous week and how we performed means nothing."

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