Nov. 1, 2005
– Head coach Chan Gailey
What distinguishes Chris Barclay from other running backs?
“It’s probably a combination of things. I think that he has excellent vision and outstanding balance. It’s extremely hard to knock him off his feet because he tends to twist, turn, and spin as he’s running. He also has the speed to go 71 yards on one run like he did against Duke last week.”
Can you comment on the fact that Wake comes into a game making you think one thing, but then they might do something else?
“Their package is tied together very well with their orbit motion, the spread-out pass, and running the draw. It all ties together very well.”
Do you think that defensive backs can get lulled to sleep against a team like Wake because they run the ball so much?
“I think you put it very well in the fact that you can get lulled to sleep. You can think they’re going to run, run, run, and then all of a sudden, they throw in a post pattern or a move-go. You have to keep your head in the game at all times and know your responsibilities. We’re not going to sit there and give them the same coverage every time so you have know where your responsibilities and not get fooled.”
Do you think it benefits your team because you personally have experience with the option and misdirection offense?
“We do a little bit of that but not too much. I think that our defensive staff, in particular Coach Tenuta, have seen a great deal of that type of offense and have done a good job against it in the past. The key is not to allow the big play. I know I sound like a broken record but that’s how they can hurt you. You get lulled to sleep and all of a sudden, they throw a deep pass, or you give Barclay a small crease and he turns that into a 40-yard run. That’s what you have to try to prevent in order to keep these guys under control.”
Are they as persistent in running the ball during the entire game?
“They will keep coming after you throughout the whole game, and that’s because of how they’re built. They have big, strong guys on their offensive line and they’re going to keep pounding it at you. They realize that that’s what they do well and they’re going to continue to do it. You seldom are able to get them out of their game plan.”
Are they a patient team?
“That’s a good way to describe them. They’re very patient, and that allows them to get back into games. They were down against FSU and kept doing what they do, and they got back into the game. The key to their play this year is the fact that they’ve been getting a lot more turnovers on defense and their offense has been even more productive when they have a short field to work with.”
Do you think they have better athletes than they did when you played them two years ago?
“I have a hard time saying they’re better because a couple of those guys that we played against a couple of years ago are now in the NFL, but I can say that they’re a lot more productive now.”
With Miami, Virginia, and Georgia still ahead, does this game take on more importance because a win means that you’re bowl-eligible?
“Is this a big game? Of course it’s a big game. I don’t know if that sixth win is in the forefront of the players’ mind because I think we try to win each game as it comes up.”
Can you talk about Eric (Henderson) mentioning that he was only 70% this past Saturday?
“It would be fun to get him close to 100%. It was good to get him back on the field, and it really helped us. It’s easy to say now, but even if he hadn’t gotten two sacks and two fumbles, it would still have been a good thing to have him back out there. It’s nice to have a seasoned veteran and a leader on the field.”
Is he the one defensive guy that everybody listens to when he talks?
“He’s not the one guy, but he’s certainly one of the guys that our players listen to.”
He talked to us a lot about his faith and how much he’s grown in the past couple of years. Have you noticed a change in his maturity?
“I have. I’ve seen it as a person and I’ve also noticed a transformation in him as a student. He’s made the Dean’s List in the past couple of semesters and that’s because he’s learned time management and study skills. He realized the importance of it and I’ve seen him make great strides. In his case, he had a few more motivating factors that allowed him to see things a little quicker, because of what he had been through in his life.”
Is there someone he leans on?
“It would probably be Derrick Moore (team chaplain).”
Eric said that even though you held Clemson without a touchdown and got the win, he said the whole team was disappointed to break the streak of holding an opposing rusher to under 100 yards. Does that make you feel good as a coach to hear that?
“Sometimes, you think players don’t know or pay attention to those things, but they do take pride in it. I think it’s always good when you have other goals out there.”
Have you given Kenny Scott a little more responsibility?
“It’s been recent that we’ve moved him around but that doesn’t mean we’re going to do it every week. We felt like it was important against Clemson to do that. Kenny Scott is a guy that loves a challenge, and he likes to have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. That brings out the best in him.”
Coach Tenuta has pictures of seven guys in his office that have played under him and are now in the NFL. What does he do different from other coaches that allows him to develop such great defensive backs?
“I think that after you’ve played more Jon Tenuta for four years, you understand the game as a football player. You don’t just know technique, position, or how to tackle, you understand the game, your responsibilities, and how you fit into the whole picture. He spends a great deal of time in trying to get players to understand how they fit on the football field as a defensive team. That’s one of the reasons why I believe we’re successful, because he has that ability.”
Has this team met your expectations so far this year?
“No team has ever met my expectations, and that’s because you expect your team to win every game.”
When the ACC expanded, some people said that Duke and Wake Forest would have a hard time answering the challenge. Do you think Wake has been able to do that?
“Very much so. I told the team on Sunday night that Wake is one of those teams that lost a couple of games early but they may be one of the better teams in the nation that no one pays attention to. They are a very good football team and you have to play your best to beat them. They could easily have a much different record.”
You ran a little bit of the option on Saturday. Is that something you plan on doing more often, or is that because it matched up well against Clemson?
“Both. It matched up well against Clemson and if it matches up well against somebody else, then we’ll try and use it. Lots of times, teams don’t line up the same way two plays in a row, and that’s not conducive to action football, unless you want to get into a check game every time you call it. We’d rather not do that and we design other ways to get Reggie (Ball) the ball.”
Reggie is obviously a running threat. Is there any concern over hits that he might take over the course of the year?
“Yes, there are. If he were the size of Vince Young (Texas quarterback) then we wouldn’t worry about it as much. Reggie is strong but he’s not the biggest guy in the world so I think you have to pick and choose your times when to use him in those ways. You don’t want to go out there and run an option game where the quarterback runs on every other play.”
How much credit do you give to Wake’s coaching staff in getting their team to bounce back this season after the early losses?
“You have to give a great deal of credit to their staff and their whole organization. They’ve got a certain mindset, are adhering to it, and doing a good job of it.”
Wake doesn’t necessarily have the type of players or the resources that other schools have. Why do you think what they do works well for them?
“Everbody has a niche and something that makes them unique. Wherever you are, you try to make sure you work towards whatever your strengths are and recruit the type of young men that they want to play in their program.”
Can you comment on the fact that you haven’t played Wake in two years, and after this game, you won’t play them until 2009?
“I had no clue that we weren’t playing them until 2009. We all know things can change, especially with scheduling. I think they took Maryland off our schedule this year and replaced them with Wake. You just never know how a team will be year in and year out. It’s one of those quirks in the schedule with new teams coming into the conference.”
What kind of things has P.J. (Daniels) done to adjust this year because of the fact that you’re not running the ball as much but he’s still getting his yards?
“We’re probably not running it as much as we used to but it’s also a different type of run. We use a lot more schemes and to me, that’s one of the most impressive things that he’s done. We’ve gone from a zone scheme last year to a scheme system this year and he’s made the adjustment really well. In years past, I think we’ve run to set up the pass but now, we’re passing more to set up the run. Sometimes, the presence of Calvin (Johnson) softens the run for us because they’re trying to roll coverage that way and it leaves a little bit of a void in some run areas. I think that’s allowed him to have the good games that he’s had. Tashard (Choice) has never had to make those types of adjustments but P.J has, and that’s been one of the more impressive things. Emmitt Smith had a giant adjustment to make when we went to Dallas because he’d always used the scheme method and we decided to go to zone. To me, the good ones do that (adjust).”
Did Brad Honeycutt maybe play the best game of the season and possibly his career?
“He played pretty well. I can’t tell you if that was his best game because I don’t have all the grades in front of me but he along with our whole offensive line played very strong and physical.”
Are you starting to see more progress out of your offensive line that will maybe allow you to go back to a more straight-ahead, push-people-out-of-the-way-style?
“Maybe we will, but maybe we don’t want to. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”
Describe your transition to becoming a starting cornerback?
“It was a great trial for me last year, one of those things I had to get adjusted to. This year is my second year doing that, and I think I have made good strides, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. So I’m just going to try and keep improving the mental aspects. The coaches are doing a great job of preparing us, and we just have to pay attention.”
Do you have to have a little swagger out there [for the position]?
“Anytime you’re lined up out there at any position, you have to have a little swagger, because you’re going one-on-one with another man. That’s the way we have to play defense at Georgia Tech. We just go out there and try to defeat one-on-one blocks and make something happen when we have a chance.”
What are the challenges of playing cornerback against a team like Wake Forest that doesn’t pass the ball as much?
“You’ve got to tackle. When they’re running the ball, you’ve got to do a great job of it. Chris Barclay is a great running back. He’s doing a great job. We need to keep our head up and stay in the game. That can lull you to sleep running the ball, then they might go over the top and beat you deep.”
Was there a particular game last year when you got frustrated?
“Not really. I didn’t have any frustration. I didn’t think I had a bad year. I didn’t think I had a great year. You just go out and perform.”
When did it start to click for you?
“I can’t recall any specific point. I just feel comfortable out there now. I’m playing football and having fun.”
A lot is made out of going against Calvin Johnson in practice every day. How much of a factor has that been for you?
“I’m quite sure it’s a factor. He’s a great player. Anytime you have a chance to go against a player of his caliber every day in practice, that’s going to make you that much better. Eric Henderson goes against Andrew Gardner, and Andrew goes against Eric. It makes Andrew that much better.”
Who usually gets the best of you versus Calvin?
“It’s hard to say. He has his days, and I have my days. You really don’t want to make him too mad out there. He can do some things on the football field.”
Is there some pressure this week from the cornerback positions to funnel everything back inside to your linebackers?
“It’s not pressure, really, just our responsibility. You’ve got to be accountable, so we just go out there and perform our duties to the best of our abilities.”
Is it tough to stay in the game when you watch film and see that they predominantly run the ball?
“Not really. You know what’s at stake, and that’s getting the W. You do anything you can to prepare to beat that team you’re playing.”
You’re one win from being bowl eligible again, with Virginia and Miami on the road, and Georgia on the horizon. Is there any extra pressure on this game?
“Wake Forest is a great team. We don’t look at it as the one we need to win to be bowl eligible. There are three more games afterward. All those games count as well.”
Did your mindset change at all when you lost Reuben Houston during the summer? How did you approach that?
“When we lost Reuben, I felt as if I had to step up and be that player at that position. Reuben was a great cornerback. He did a lot of good things for our team. Everyone is doing a great job right now. Jamal Lewis has come in and make a lot of plays this year. As a secondary, we’ve grown a lot.”
[Defensive coordinator] Coach Tenuta had a lot of success with cornerbacks at Ohio State. Is there something he’s doing that makes you better?
“Anytime you have a coach like that, you believe in him because you’ve seen what he does. Coach Tenuta has pictures in his office of seven NFL draft picks that he’s had. You know he’s produced and knows what it takes. You’re going to buy into his system and play well for him.”
Is there anything on the field that he does?
“He drills everything into you. He’s going to get his point across. It’s his way or no way.
“When I was being recruited, I was aware of Coach Tenuta and his accolades. He sits down and talks to us and tells us what he wants to do. He’s very open to us as players. Anything we do starts together and ends together. We hold everything together as a unit.
“He wants you to have your mind in the game. If you’re not focused, if you’re not hustling and going full speed, that would make any coach mad.”
How important has it been to get Eric (Henderson) back?
“We had players step in and do a good job. But getting him back into the lineup is a great motivational factor. He keeps his motor running all game. He’s going to keep you in the game. He’s going to talk with you. That was one of the big factors in the fourth quarter last Saturday, just having him out there getting after it. Anytime you have a guy doing that, who’s a senior, you want to play that much harder for him.”
What was it like to watch [the Clemson] game in the film room, knowing you played as well as you did?
“You always want to be critical of yourself, watch for things you could have done better. From lining up, to my first steps backpedaling.”
Senior, Defensive End
What’s it like to go against Wake Forest’s running game?
“They run the ball well. It’s going to be tough. They do a great job of faking one thing and doing another. It’s going to be a tough task to stop those guys from running the ball, but it’s a job that we need to accomplish.”
What does Chris Barclay do that sets him apart from other running backs?
“He brings a lot to the table. He’s a complete back. The guy can flat out run. They do a great job of blocking for him. He can run you over, he has great speed, and he can make you miss. They utilize him well in their offense.”
How was it to be back out on the field? Did you realize how much you missed it?
“It was a blessing to be out there, to be honest with you. I walked out feeling only about 70 percent. I just thank God every day to spare me another moment I have playing the game. You never take things for granted.”
That didn’t look like 70 percent running around on the field.
Did adrenaline take up for the rest?
“You could call it adrenaline or faith. I call it faith. I think it was faith that I was able to get out there and make some plays.”
How did your ankle feel after the game Saturday night?
“It was killing me. After the game Saturday night it was hurting. Sunday when I came in for treatment, it was in a great deal of pain. It felt pretty good in the game, though.”
Did you and Charlie Whitehurst say anything to each other after the game?
“I couldn’t find him after the game. He’s a good guy. He talks trash, but you have to love a quarterback who is as fired up as you.”
Merriwether was the first back in 14 games to run for over 100 yards against you. Is (preventing) that a point of pride for you guys?
“We were disappointed about that. It hurt us a lot because we practice hard on stopping people from running on us. We were happy that we got the win, but we weren’t happy deep down inside that those guys were able to run the ball on us. We just have to do better this week.”
You’ve talked a lot about faith this year, more so than in the past. Is that something that has grown as a part of your life?
“Definitely. You go through a lot. You just develop as a person. I think it all comes with maturity. I’ve been through a lot in my life. It’s just a blessing to be able to be up here and say how the Lord has been good to me on and off the field. You’ve got to have faith in everything you do. It helps shape you as a person.”
Has what happened back home (Hurricane Katrina) helped you in that regard?
“I’m so many miles away from family members, and you still have business to take care of between football and school. You’re trying to finish up and graduate, and help your team win at the same time. Then you have to worry about family at home. You can’t do it all by yourself. You need someone to help you, and I don’t think anyone can help me but the Lord. That’s just the way I look like it. He’s blessed me and my family. Everyone is okay back at home. They can’t complain for nothing.”
Did it take a while to come to that realization?
“It happens with maturity. You learn which way your life needs to head. But being young, you don’t want to step up to the plate and take on what’s at stake. You kind of turn your back away from it, rather than know what lies ahead and where you need to be. You want to put it aside because you’re not ready for it. As I’ve grown, putting it to the side is not getting me anywhere. My life is heading in the right direction. I’m comfortable with it, and I can’t complain for nothing.”