Listen to the full Rob Spence interview Here: Real Audio - Windows Media
Dan: How has the transition to Clemson been for you?
Spence:It has been great, and really easy because the people here are so passionate about football. They have been very welcoming to me and my family. It’s a great environment to coach in and a great environment to live in.
Dan: Did the passion surprise you?
Spence: Any where you go in Clemson people recognize the coaches, and that makes a difference. Here there is a passion and a love for this sport like no other place, and I think that is what makes Clemson so unique.
Dan: How has Charlie Whitehurst handled what you've thrown at him?
Spence: Charlie has done a marvelous job. Charlie is a sponge, he has done everything I have asked him to do thus far. He's very teachable. He's a great student of the game. He does things with great effort. I believe that he has the best arm of any quarterback I have ever coached right now, and I think that together, if we work hard enough he'll really blossom and reach his potential.
Dan:Could you compare your quarterback last year at Toledo Bruce Gradkowski and Whitehurst?
Spence: They are very different players. Bruce is probably a little less than 6'2" and 200 lbs now. He is a very explosive, fast athlete. Not nearly the arm that Charlie has, but he has a really good arm and good release. Bruce had played in the system we coached for four full years and is very, very tough. Charlie on the other hand is much taller, much bigger, more of a live arm, more of a prototypical NFL arm. Charlie's agility is not quite comparable to Bruce, but he makes up for that with his big arm and size and intelligence. So they are a little bit different in the physical dimensions.
Dan: Why do you think running out of the one back can be successful here in the ACC?
Spence: In order to win consistently you've got to be able to run the ball. I think a one back offence with the addition of a H Back to add a way to run the back with some two back looks is another dimension all together. That's what we got into in Toledo, adding that extra tight end into the mix to run the ball more effectively. I think there is so much you can do in throwing the ball and creating a real defensive conflict or bind by having the threat of pass and run existing every time the ball is snapped in this type of offense. In my opinion running the ball is necessary for the success of your entire program, to toughen your team and give it a certain element of physicality.
Dan: What's more important, the scheme or the mind set?
Spence: I think that it’s an attitude, it’s a demeanor, and it’s a mind set. It is also the scheme, but you need to establish a fact that you are tough and you are physical that you can and will do this. It is something you come to every game with a heart to do, and it’s the soul of your team to run the ball when you need to.
Dan: How is the offensive line based on what you saw in the spring?
Spence: The offensive line is the heart and soul of what we do. We will be about as good as they are. The program rests on those five guys right up front. We put a lot of emphasis on what they do and limit what they do, and ask them to become proficient in the scheme that we have. Therefore we don’t have a lot of runs. We just run them out of a lot of different formations. They get good at what they do. The players we have developing on the offensive line appear to be very strong, much more than adequate. I am very excited about what I see. I really believe that the offensive line can become a strength of our program and our offense and I am very excited to see what they are going to do and how they are going to grow. I am putting a lot on their shoulders right away. I feel that we have some character there, we have some toughness there and some young men who really want to play and on top of it all we have some great athletes.
Dan: You have a variety of running backs to work with don't you?
Spence: Yes we do. We have a team of running backs and when you put them together we have different styles of running. Kyle and Duane and Reggie, and all three bring something different to the table, and present different dimensions to the defense and can attack the defense in different ways. As a team each one plays their role and does what they are supposed to.
Dan: How well do you think they will perform Saturdays this fall?
Spence: Well, I see a young bunch. I see a bunch of players who are growing and developing and there is a bunch of potential. I see a lot of excitement. I think we have some young players who will rise to the occasion, Aaron Kelly comes to mind. He had a great spring, Chansi Stuckey is going to do a great job for us. There are lots of players that will develop and win games. There is no doubt in my mind.
Dan: How is Bobby Williamson responded to moving over from the defensive side?
Spence: One of the challenges we faces last year in Toledo is that we lost our best player before the season started. He was arguably one of the top two players on our team. And that forced us to adjust our offensive productivity, and it was impacted in my opinion because we didn't have that marquee player. I feel like here at Clemson, we have a number of players who have had good careers thus far but have not been asked to do as much as they are going to have to do right now. Again, there is an excitement level and enthusiasm for what they are going to, which will make up for their lack of experience. We have some very good athletes who are ready to play and contribute to Clemson University. And I feel that they are more than talented to do what we are going to ask them to do. I think the tight end ties the run game and the pass game together and the tight ends are going to have to line up virtually any where on the field as a wide receiver sometimes, they'll also line up in the back field and do some isolation blocking and lead blocking on zone plays. It’s a real important position, Bobby has adapted real well to it. They are smart ball players.
Dan: What are the yardage goals for running and passing?
Spence: I never put down a number, but generally speaking if we can approach the 175 yard mark rushing in a game and throw for somewhere over 250 yards then we'll be fairly productive. In the run game we can not have negative plays. That is critical to the success of this offense. When we run the ball we have to make sure that we are at least getting that ball back to the line of scrimmage where we're getting at least four yards a pop. When you can be efficient running the ball it keeps you in a situation where you are on schedule play calling virtually call anything in the offense. And that's why the running game is so important to what we do keeping us out of negative plays. The passing game there is going to be some plays that you don't complete. Sometimes there is going to be some negative plays due to sacks and so on, but you can’t have that in the run game. That's where we have to get real good at running the ball and be real solid there then everything else comes together … play action, throwing the ball down field, throwing the ball deep and really keeping the defense off balance.
Listen to the full Rob Spence interview Here: Real Audio - Windows Media