Wake Forest Press Conference: Jordan Garside and Kevin Johnson
Jordan GARSIDE: Regarding that, I think it’s their personality and how they approach coaching. Coach Grobe was an excellent coach, and everything he did, he really instilled in us a sense of morality and made sure we did the right thing. Coach Clawson is very much the same way, but Coach Clawson is very much hands on. Coach Grobe will let his staff — he’d give his staff a lot of autonomy, and Coach Clawson likes to be in the meetings with us, and that’s in my opinion the biggest difference.
Q. As you break spring ball with the new coach and as you’re coming into a new season, what are the things that the team has been working on from an offensive perspective? What’s been the focus?
Jordan GARSIDE: That’s a difficult question to address explicitly because the offense is very balanced. We have a lot of different packages, and to say that we’re focusing on one thing in particular I think would be to really kind of not give you all a good picture of what we’re doing as an offense. Our new offensive system, our new offensive coordinator really uses a lot of packages to really utilize all of the personnel that we have.
Jordan GARSIDE: To be honest I think that’s something that we’re finding out. We know that we’re a young team and we know that we have a lot to prove, and I think that’s exciting for all of us. We have a chip on our shoulder, so to speak. We understand the perception of us from the outside, but internally we know we’re very excited. We’ve been working harder than we have before, and we’re kind of excited to establish that identity and establish a winning culture again at Wake.
Q. Two of your first three games are on the road. Any focus? Any concern? Any highlight to that?
Jordan GARSIDE: To be honest, the one game that I’m really only focusing right now is the one on the road at ULM in Louisiana. I do not think it’s something to be too concerned about just because regardless if we play at home or away, we’re going to do our best and we’re going to try to execute our assignment. I’m very excited just to start this new chapter and really start the season off right.
Q. Obviously there’s been some change in the quarterback department. When you think about the person that’s commanding the offense, the person that may be throwing or giving you the ball, good folks there?
Jordan GARSIDE: Yes, sir, yes, sir. I’m very excited as is a lot of other individuals to see this quarterback competition during camp. For all the quarterbacks I’m very excited about the potential in each one of them, and as a senior I know both KJ and I just want the person who will help us win the most. I think I speak for the team in that regard.
Q. Biggest difference between jim grobe and Dave Clawson? Obviously you played for Coach Grobe a lot longer than you have for Coach Clawson, but initial reaction or the biggest difference?
KEVIN JOHNSON: I think first and foremost Coach Grobe was a great coach and very well respected. Like Jordan said, I think the biggest difference is probably personality. I think Coach Clawson is very hands-on and very involved with the players. I think that he’s holding us to a very high standard trying to change the culture around Wake Forest University, and we’re working very hard, and he’s trying to show us that we need to work harder than the best team to be a great team in this conference, and I think that that hard-working mentality is paying off.
Q. You get recruited by a guy like jim grobe and you play for him for a long time, how hard is it to buy into what a new coach is trying to teach you?
KEVIN JOHNSON: You know, thinking about something like that, I think that’s a very tough thing to wrap your head around, but when Coach Clawson and the staff got to Wake Forest, I think that the transition was actually a lot smoother than I thought it would go. The coach has done a great job as far as implementing like the new plays and the new schemes that we’re going to be doing, and I think guys are really buying in because when you have a good leader, a lot of guys want to follow.
Q. Jordan just said that Wake Forest is searching for their identity right now. Looking at the defensive backs, do you have an identity that you’re going forward with at this moment after spring ball?
KEVIN JOHNSON: Yeah, as a defensive secondary we want to be the best secondary in the country. I think that’s something that we work hard at every day, and that’s the mentality that we definitely believe in. I think that me and Bud at corner and then our safeties, I think we’re working very hard on and off the field to really make that a true statement.
Q. It’s still hard to get into the top four in college football, but what is it about the new playoff system that gives teams like you guys — it’s hard to get up there, hope that you can win a national title?
KEVIN JOHNSON: I think it’s good because it gives a team — once you get into that four, I think you are able to show that, you know, hey, we can beat these other three teams that are in here, so I think it gives a team a sense to really show that the best team is truly going to win, rather than someone picking who are the best two teams.
Q. The perception is that the cupboard is a little bare at Wake and that it’s going to be a while before you can get back up. How far away do you think you are?
KEVIN JOHNSON: Well, I think right now our focus in the locker room is to be a great team this year. I think that we hold ourselves to a standard of winning an ACC Championship this season, so I think that’s something that — a mentality that we have throughout the locker room and that we’re developing right now and we’re going to work hard to try and win the ACC Championship.
Q. Kevin, the last time Wake won a football game was October 19th, and that’s a long time ago. How do you deal with that during the off-season? How do you work with that through spring ball? Do you talk about it? Is it a motivator? Where is that?
KEVIN JOHNSON: I think, like you said, I think it’s a motivator. I think that winning a football game feels great, and I think that’s something that we need to have that feeling back. We’re working hard right now in the weight room, on the field, to try and get that culture back going at Wake Forest.
Q. Everybody wants to win their first game, but do you have to your win first game?
KEVIN JOHNSON: Well, I think we’re just going into the game with the mentality that we prepare like we need to and we work hard, then I think that winning the game is definitely a goal that we want to achieve.
Q. You and Bud were both among the toughest defensive backs to throw on. What’s your evaluation of that? And secondly, not having Nikita putting pressure, does that make your job more difficult?
KEVIN JOHNSON: I think me and Bud on the two corners coming into Wake Forest together, I think that we push ourselves. I think that’s one thing that’s helped us throughout our careers. When he makes a play in practice I feel like I’ve got to make the next play, and when I make a play he feels the same way. I think that’s really pushed to develop us throughout the year. When you lose a great player like Nikita things are going to get a little bit tougher, but I think even though we’re losing a lot on the front seven, I think we have some new faces, but it doesn’t mean that we’re losing talent. I think that’s something that we’re excited about to see what these young guys can do, these new faces on the defensive line and throughout the defense.