In their words: Tigers' Dabo Swinney, Wake's Jim Grobe discuss keys to the game

Swinney respects Deacons' defense; Grobe says his defense needs a helping hand from his offense

Head coaches Jim Grobe and Dabo Swinney meet before the game

Photo by Mark Crammer

Head coaches Jim Grobe and Dabo Swinney meet before the game

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney

On Wake Forest: "They're very well coached. They've got a very good scheme. They're a 3 4 odd type front, a lot of movement. They don't sit in one spot, a lot of slanting and angling and twists, and they bring pressure."

On undersized nose guard Nikita Whitlock: "It all starts with No.50. He's not a very big guy, their nose tackle, but man, he plays big, and just play. I love to watch him play. I love watching him on film every time I get a chance to see Wake Forest on tape. He is a fun player to watch because he plays the game with such passion."

On the Deacons' secondary: "They've got two starters back up front, two starters back at linebacker. But I'll tell you what, their secondary is very impressive. Number 7 and No. 9, those guys have played a lot of football. They're three year starters for them, and each year going into this game as I study them, I just come away so impressed. I mean, they're very fundamentally sound. They do a great job with their eyes."

On the need for a high level of execution: "If you go out there and you're running routes with bad technique, bad fundamentals, it's going to be picks, because these guys are very, very clued in into what you're trying to do and do a great job of game planning each and every week."

On dealing with Wake Forest's odd-front scheme: "They've got good players at each spot defensively, and then their scheme is a challenge for you. You have to really communicate well and everybody be on the same page, not just in the passing game but in the run game and be able to get everybody targeted so you have a chance to have a successful play."

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe

On his defense needing help from his offense: "The thing is you've got to have help from the offensive side and special teams has to play good. We talk a lot about defensive football and what defenses are good and whatnot, but really most of the really, really good defenses that I've ever been a part of or seen had a little bit of balance on the offensive side of the ball, so they didn't spend all their time on the field.

"If your offense is three and out a lot, you're going to have problems, and that's especially true with this Clemson team with Tajh Boyd and all the talent that he has around him. You'd like to think that your defense is going to play hard and they're going to fly around and try to do the best they can, but if you don't have a little bit of possession time from your offense, it can be a long day."

On limiting Clemson's big plays: "I think the key for us and any defense against this Clemson offense that's so talented and so well coached is that they try to get you in a lot of different ways. Last year what really hurt us is we gave up a bunch of big plays, big chunks of yardage. They're going to get some of those, but if you give them too many, then you just can't - you don't have a chance to win.

"I think the big part of it is you certainly want to try to stop what they do, and that's run and throw the football. They do both of them really, really well. But I think the key is if you give up too many big plays, you're not going to have a very good day."

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