2006 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game Quotes -- Wake Forest
Dec. 2, 2006
JON ABBATE: I mean I can't even put it in words. It's been an unbelievable season. Unbelievable to be ACC champs, and I can't explain it.
SAM SWANK: Unbelievable. It was a great team effort to defeat the talented Georgia Tech team. Our team, throughout the season, persevered all the way up through this game and showed what our players are made of and the great character that we have as a team.
RILEY SKINNER: I have to second with Doug, and I think that's the biggest part of our team is the kind of guys we have on the team. How unselfish everybody is, whatever roll you have, whether you are getting no snaps or getting 30 snaps or whether you are throwing the ball or not throwing the ball. Nobody cares really at all. You see nobody hanging their heads, or pointing fingers or anything. Everybody wants to win. If it helps the ball club. Everybody is in the same boat. So just to be able to play with the guys like that, the guys like Sam and John, it's a pleasure. It's really humbling to be able to say you are the ACC champs after you were picked last at the beginning of the season, and losing such great players like our running back and our quarterback. Everybody rallied around each other. We lost a big chunk of our team. To be able to say we won the ACC, it feels really good now.
Q. Riley, if you can describe the past where you hit Willie to set up the winning field goal, what happened there?
RILEY SKINNER: Well, we thought, we knew they were going to bring blitz like they did, every play, pretty much this game. They brought it, and unfortunately they're playing a college we didn't want them to play. Our O-line I felt I could sit back there for a while. The offensive line gave us a lot of time. I looked down the field and I saw Willie. We had a vertical switch, and Willie was kind of one-on-one with this guy. I saw a safety on the other side. But I think I could get it to him. I have all of the confidence in Willie. I just threw it up there. It wasn't the best ball, but he went up there and made a heck of a catch and came down with it. And that's what happened. It went from there, that sparked the team. We almost got in the end zone. Luckily we have Sam Swank. We don't have to worry about getting in the end zone every time. We know we have a pretty much guaranteed 3 point. That was a big play. There was so many other big plays during that game.
Q. You two guys have used the word unbelievable six times in your opening statement. When did you start believing that something like this was possible.
JON ABBATE: You know to be honest with you, the first day of summer work out. That's the amazing thing about this team.
JIM GROBE: I wish you would have told me that. (Laughter.)
JON ABBATE: It would have saved Coach some sleepless nights I guess. Really honestly the first day of summer work out we came together as a team. We made our team goals. As a team we really believed that this day was going to come.
Q. Jon, how does it feel to win this thing but to have the game you had?
JON ABBATE: Not really. ACC champs. It was a great team game. Offense defense special teams. It was unbelievable to win today.
Q. Coach, tell us what you think?
JIM GROBE: Well, I'm really blessed, coaching staff does such a good job. But the credit goes to these players, just wonderful group of guys, a lot of adversity throughout the year, a lot of adversity together. He sprained an ankle, Kevin Harris hurt his knee a little bit again. We just found ways to win. That's a tribute to our players.
Q. In that vein, this is for Riley and for Jon, did anything go right for you guys this year except win football games with all of the adversity that piled up including today?
RILEY SKINNER: Not so much, not so much. Luckily we were able to keep most of our guys on defense healthy, and this guy gets hurt every other play. It's a testimony what kind of player Jon is. He plays to those things day in and day out. You just don't play and have an all right day. He plays and has a great day. That's pretty cool to know when you have things go wrong, you don't got to think that everything is going down the drain. We have guys that will step up and play. On offense, we didn't have too much go right this year except winning ball games, I guess, that's true.
JON ABBATE: The same with Riley. This time is just unbelievable the way that they you know, responds to adversity, and the big thing with our team, you know, we know that in adversity lies opportunity. That's the big thing that we capitalized on this year. The year that Riley's has had. After Ben went down or Kenny Moore and Kevin Harris stepping up for Mike. It's a team that never gives up. That's what happens.
Q. Jim, can we talk about the direct snap offense, where did that come from? It's like something out of Wake's past or something?
JIM GROBE: Well, you know we've been pretty creative this year finding ways to move the football. I thought Lobo (phn) and his staff had a really good thought that if we direct snapped it. We've running so many of the speed sweep series. That if we gave them a little bit of a different look, now if the speed sweep was with our running back back there, Kenny Moore is so talented running with the football, that we would have a couple of options to run the speed sweep or let Kenny carry it off tackle. We are pretty good, but he is the guy we really worked with all week. The other guys got some reps, but not anything like Kenny. So when he sprained his ankle, it took that series away from us, but I thought Lobo and the offensive staff did a nice job coming up with that.
Q. Sam, can you tell me the last time you every either in practice or at a younger age pretended to kick a field goal to win a big game like this and can you tell me anything what was going on in your mind waiting for the snap?
SAM SWANK: Well, pretty much weekly every day we put the pressure, we try to mock the pressure, we would have in the game during practice. And you know I really definitely didn't come into this game thinking that I would be needed to kick the game winning field goal because I thought our offense was highly talented. Things just didn't go our way sometimes, and I was happy to step in there and perform my roll. Unfortunately, I missed that, but some things just happen and you just got to roll with it the best you can.
Q. Jim, can you talk about how these two guys have handled themselves this weak especially, and the roll that they played, Riley and Sam coming in here? There is a lot of external pressure and a lot of things you talked about finding ways to win, these guys found a way?
JIM GROBE: Yes, there was a potential today for distractions because I know how badly these guys wanted to play at home. And so I felt all along we would be fine. I had no reservations. I thought the guys would play well. My biggest concern was they would try to do too much. I was glad to see Sam calm down after that first field goal attempt. And then really glad to see Riley calm down. I think early in the game we made a couple of mistakes early, but the neat thing was to see how the maturity that Riley showed. And then down the stretch the one thing that he knew that would kill our chances was a turnover. And to watch him make the throws that we needed to make to have a chance to win the game but the way he took care of the football was really nice to see.
Q. Jim, the situation you faced at running back by the end of the game because of what you had been through all year, was it less of a dire situation than if you lost everyone today for the first time and had to face that situation?
JIM GROBE: It was. That's why our kids didn't panic. They have been through this before, it was no big deal. It was a little bigger deal to the Coaches and trying to figure out how to move the football. I think we put a little more on Riley, and the receivers. We told them we were going to have to throw to win. I was very impressed and pleased with the way Bryant through the football. He gave us some good tough positive yards that helped us down the stretch. So it was a situation where when those injuries came about, I don't think anybody got discouraged because of it.
Q. Jim, you were still down 6-3 3 early in the 4th quarter, and you decided to punt and there was a stoppage on the field, and the defensive players were huddled, looking lose and having a good time to pump themselves up, what was going on there?
JIM GROBE: They pumped me up to be honest with you. I was really worried because we misfired a few times offensively because we kept putting the defense back out on the field. I thought Georgia Tech did a nice job running the football today. I was worried about how tired our defense was. And I saw them over there really excited about going back on the field. The first play we turned it over. I think the first play we turned it over. So that was just the kind of year that we've had that we've had, that kind of added to, that our football team has had, when things got pretty adverse, the players rallied. To be honest with you, in that situation I was a little bit nervous and the guys got me jacked up.
Q. Can you talk about Georgia Tech defense and how important field position became?
JIM GROBE: Yes, the thing they do, they pressure you so much whether you are running the football or throwing the football, they are always trying to put you behind on mistakes. So we just struggled all day. Every time we get a little something going, they'd get a minus yardage play against us, get us off track, and we would have to punt the football.
But the thing we told our team all year long, if we take care of the football on offense, let Sam Swank punt it. We'll be pretty good if he punts it, and go play defense. So the key for us really all year, we've had some really good days offensively. We did some really nice things today offensively. But we knew it was going to be an uphill battle against this Georgia Tech defense. I think the key was our offensive players and our coaches did not become inpatient. We kept trying to take what we could get, make a few first downs, give ourselves and opportunity, and give our defense and our kicking game a chance to win today.
Q. The question I have for Jim and one for Sam, the one for Jim, had you done the direct snap at all this year, was that put in totally new this week?
JIM GROBE: We had done that a little bit in the past, mainly running power off tackle. Remember we put Mica back there, but we hadn't used that sweep series the way we did today. So a little bit of a wrinkle. Not the first time we've done it.
Q. For Sam, the words
JIM GROBE: Music to my ears. I don't know, I really can't respond. I'm so excited for this football team and our effort today. I'm so excited we came out on top.
Q. Jim, I was just wondering early in the first half they are driving, they could go up 10-0 and Curic (phn) intercepts a pass, can you talk about that play and getting that turnover there helped you guys?
JIM GROBE: I think that was huge. Obviously that was huge. If I remember right, they were trying it on fourth down, is that right? I think. That was really big. And the other thing that impressed me was, you know, on their first drive, when they came away with only three. I thought that was a big lift for us.
You know, as much as I hate to say it, because we didn't feel we are this way defensively, but you know that kind of bend but don't break, I don't think we are so much bend, but don't break. We have given up some yardage between the 20's. When you get our backs against the wall, these kids respond. I thought that was absolutely huge, no question.
Q. Jon, going back to the Orange Bowl, that's a much bigger National stage than this. Do you look forward to introducing
JON ABBATE: Definitely. I think it's huge for our program to be playing in the Orange Bowl and with the history that it has. Like you said it doesn't get bigger than that. I think it's a great opportunity for us to prove one more time you know, what this team is all about.
Q. Two part question for Riley. Can you tell us with the external pressures of playing in front of family and friends and the joy of that? And also what was the first thing you thought of when you knelt down for the final time?
RILEY SKINNER: I don't know if it's pressure playing at home because you know. I know having a bunch of family in town is really exciting. But the special thing about that, they don't care if we win or lose. They would love to see us win. Their love is not from football. It's from you know just the kind of person that you are and what you mean to the family. I think that's one thing that's special about my family. I really felt no pressure because it was a blessing from the Lord to be able to come and play in front of them. The road lead back to
It was intense. We had some different guys come in the huddle. A couple of my buddies I'm close with on the team. They came in and started yelling. They wouldn't stopped yelling until we snapped the ball. I almost started laughing a couple times. It was excitement that we come this far, and we didn't come all the way to the ACC Championship and play complacent, that we came to win. We were able to put the external things behind us and focus on the game at hand and luckily we came out on top and we were just really excited.
Q. Jim, I know you can't comment on officials, can you comment on the?
JIM GROBE: I would have to ask the kids, I would have to ask those corners. Absolutely, the thing that I did not like, I didn't like a penalty but it sure beats a homerun. I think that was the situation that we were in. There were a couple of times where we are kind of jostling for position a little bit. They had a couple on our guys. But overall, the alternative was to give up points and I'm glad we didn't do that.
Q. What were you thinking when you saw Georgia Tech players and fans do the 5 at the beginning of the fourth quarter?
JON ABBATE: It just shows how classy that program is, the coaches, the players, the fans, it was emotional just to see the support not only from our fans and our team, but Georgia Tech, too. It was really emotional.
Q. Coach, when you get down to the red zone you tightened up the play calling, were you content taking care of the football?
JIM GROBE: No, not really. We wanted to obviously score touchdowns. The problem was Georgia Tech. You just got to give them credit. They are a little bit like us when they got their backs against the wall, they bowed up a little bit. I will tell you that on the last possession we would have loved to have had a touchdown, but the last thing in the world we wanted to do was turn the ball over down there. That was a big key for us in kicking the field goal, and basically won the football game. We really weren't trying to be too conservative. We thought we were calling good plays. They were just defending them really well.
Q. Jim, do you have some perspective what this will mean when you guys get back to the university given that a lot of the things you've done this year are first in the 100 year history of the program?
JIM GROBE: You know, I really don't think we do right now. I think it will kind of hit us tomorrow, maybe Monday. We've done some pretty good things here the last four or five weeks. We just never had time to think about it. Because we always had a game the following Saturday. So this will probably start to sink in some time later in evening or tomorrow.
Q. Now that you are ACC champions, how do you keep this team hungry for that bowl game?
JIM GROBE: I've never had a problem keeping this team hungry. That's been the best thing about this football team. The only gauge that I've every got that I can talk to you about is how we practice. We really haven't had a bad week of practice all year long and then that's where I can tell if the guys are getting ready to play on Saturday how they work down during the week. It's been a remarkable football team through all of the highs and lows this year you couldn't come to practice and tell the difference. I just got a feeling we will comeback and practice really hard. We will play as hard as we can possibly play when we get for the Orange Bowl. I promise you that. I think we got to improve. But I think we are going to play as hard as we can because that's what these guys have done all year long.
Q. Last week, or so, a lot of the talk has been how far Wake Forest will drop in the bowl rankings if they don't win this game, how great is it for the players to know you are going to Miami?
JON ABBATE: We knew that it all lied in our hands. Win and we don't have to worry about where we are going. We knew coming into today's game that with the W we knew where we were going.
Q. To Jon, first, and then a follow up for Coach. Jon, how big in terms of importance was the hit that you had on Reggie in the first half? He didn't complete a pass after that. Jim, did you sense that as maybe a big play for your defend to kind of rattle him a little bit and take him out of the rhythm?
JON ABBATE: I think with every quarterback, every time you can get pressure and get contact on him you get in their head a little bit. Reggie played a great game. The same with their offense. They ran the ball well. So I think it was a big for us on defense, but you know Reggie still played well.
JIM GROBE: Yes, I didn't feel like that was going to be the difference. But I think any time you've got pressure on the quarterback it doesn't have to be a sack. It can just be being around him can cause you to do good things. Are you talking about the one where the flag went on the ground?
Q. No, the clean play maybe midway second quarter?
JIM GROBE: Yes.
Q. Reggie got up chatting with John, I think they probably exchanged pleasantries?
JIM GROBE: So it looked like they were close.
JIM GROBE: I just thought I would throw that penalty out there. I want to make sure we weren't confused on which one we were talking about. Even that one I don't know whether they called it helmet to helmet. I kind of thought he hit him with his forearms. Maybe he got him in the helmet with his forearms. The thing that impressed me the most not about just John's hit, but the way the defense chased him around today. They made him work for the yard that he got. There were times when he got out of the pocket. The thing that impressed me so much when he was out of the pocket how hard our guys chased him when he got out there.
Q. Did anyone get hit with an original?
JIM GROBE: Me personally I did not get hit with an original.
Q. Swanson interception, I couldn't figure out, if Swanson flicked the ball away, did anybody get a good look at that?
RILEY SKINNER: I was actually standing right there. I was standing right there and it looked like they both kind of went up for it and it looked like Calvin kind of put his hand on it, Riley tipped it when it was coming down. It just came down in his hand. I think that was a pretty big turning point for us. I think for Riley, too, having played with Calvin in high school and things like that. It was really exciting see him get up there and make that play. He is going to remember that for long time?
Q. Jim, the importance of that play?
JIM GROBE: That was huge, Dan, that was right after the defense got so pumped up. That's where I looked over to the defense and I expected to see them tired and kind of sucking wind, and I looked over and they were dancing around bumping into each other, ready to go again. Their thought coming out of that break was to take the ball back. That was the main thought. I think he gave our defense a lift. Not only the offense, Riley was talking about what lift it gave to the offense. I think it really gave our defense a lift. We kind of got a second wind there and it seemed like we had more bounce in our step.
Q. After a win like this, you guys ready for finals?
RILEY SKINNER: Luckily I took a couple of my finals before we left. The ones are waiting when we get back I guess I will worry about those Monday since they are later in the week.
SAM SWANK: I have two on Monday. Right when I get back hitting those books.
JON ABBATE: Same. Right when I get back I will be studying with Sam.
SAM SWANK: We are in a couple of the same classes.
THE MODERATOR: How about you Coach?
JIM GROBE: I don't have to study. I might tutor these guys.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, congratulations.