Clemson's defense makes a tackle early in the win over Wake. (Photo courtesy ACC)
Clemson's defense makes a tackle early in the win over Wake. (Photo courtesy ACC)

Notes and Quotes from Wake: Coordinators and players talk win over Deacs

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Clemson coordinators Tony Elliott and Brent Venables and select players met with the media following the Tigers’ 37-13 victory over Wake Forest Saturday night in Winston-Salem.

The following is a collection of notes and quotes from those interviews, with full stories to come later.

OC Tony Elliott

* Elliott said he was proud of the players working hard this offseason and it showing on night one. Said the first team group gained control quickly. Offensive line performed well. Overall was a “good, positive” start and a good learning opportunity for the younger players.

* He said there were a few more opportunities left out there for Travis Etienne but his natural ability still shined.

* Elliott said Lyn-J Dixon was “good to go” but coming off of a knee injury that they didn’t want to risk it and wanted to feature some of the younger players. Dixon looked good in warmups and looked good all week but they wanted to play it safe.

* Elliott added that both freshman RBs, Demarkcus Bowman and Kobe Pace, flashed and it was good to get them some experience.

* He said the tight ends were very productive and that the Clemson offense is at its best when the tight ends are making an impact. Makes the offense very, very dynamic.

* Elliott says DJ Uiagalelei going out second was Brandon Streeter’s call but he had impressed in camp throughout. He said that he and Taisun Phommachanh were “neck-and-neck” in camp though. Elliott said freshmen are coming in more and more prepared to play earlier with advanced high school football systems at the higher levels and working with outside trainers.

* Elliott says Trevor Lawrence’s everyday focus and intensity showed out Saturday. Only a few mistakes on the night -- he’s had the “Eye of the Tiger” and is “at a different level” and the challenge will be to maintain that all season.

* Elliott told players to keep the mentality of when they first started playing with no fans in the stands and just playing for the love of the game.

* Elliott says the biggest challenge to his guys is to finish better and move the ball more in the second half after a strong start with the first-team.

* Tempo has been an emphasis and getting going there.

QB Trevor Lawrence

* He said their tempo got in the rhythm after the first drive. He said Wake Forest showed what they were planning for and the coaches had them in a position to succeed and it was a lot of fun.

* Lawrence said his goal this offseason has been to take what the defense gives and that the big plays will eventually come. Just going through progressions and working on pre- and post-snap reads. Wake showed some good blitzing and Clemson executed its plan well.

* Lawrence said it was great to connect with the tight end group more. Says Braden Galloway has worked hard to get into this position after some tough circumstances with the suspension. Stayed focus through it. Galloway and Allen are a “dynamic duo” and JC Chalk stepped up to make a play and it was awesome to see that.

* Playing in an empty stadium was weird but they were excited to play and cherish the opportunity after the season being in question. He said the crowd noise played over the speakers did sound real.

* Lawrence said the backup QBs didn’t get much of a shot to show what they can do but they were prepared and Taisun Phommachanh will shake off the INT. He said they showed they were ready to play with the week of practice.

* It was good to get a last-minute drive for a score at the end of the first half and a drive like that will pay dividends down the road. He said BT Potter will help the team a lot this year.

Travis Etienne

* He takes a lot of pride in getting yards after contact. He wants to leave it all out there. Etienne wants the offense to come out of the gates firing better week-to-week.

* Etienne is ready to watch film and technique to improve after he felt like he left a score or two out there.

* He said he had to knock some rust off early. Different level to the game versus practice.

* Etienne says the 18 100-yard games school-record means a lot to him and he credits the offensive line and receivers blocking down field Saturday.

* He said his confidence has grown with pass protection and experience and working in the weight room has him in a place to protect the QBs. He says he’s done a 180 since his freshman year.

* Etienne said Kobe Pace showed his physicality and Demarkcus Bowman flashed his ability as a dangerous runner outside. He says the sky’s the limit for both freshmen. He says he and CJ Spiller are there to bring them along.

DC Brent Venables

*He was all smiles when he entered the video room. Said he was concerned heading into the game because he had nine new starters out on the field, and was missing three players who might have started in Justin Foster, Derion Kendrick and Mario Goodrich. Overall, thought everybody did a good job and he was just excited to get the win.

*Reminded everyone that Wake Forest has been in the top five offensively the last few seasons and runs a lot of plays and he was pleased with how they controlled things early and controlled the running game.

*Grinned when he was asked about Bryan Bresee. Said Bresee was like a big puppy who has been let outside for the first time and then “wets all over the place.” Said that he still has plenty of things to work on.

*On seeing his two sons get out there and play, he said they both deserved to play with their peers but are still held to the same standard. “There will be a lot of corrections on the bus ride home.”

*Said they played everyone they brought on defense except linebacker Sergio Allen, who missed a few practices earlier this week and wasn't up to date on the game plan.

DE KJ Henry

*He said it was fun being on the other sideline tonight. Grew up in Winston-Salem and cheering for the Demon Deacons and loved getting his first start in his hometown.

*Said that he roomed with freshman defensive tackle Bryan Bresee last night at the hotel, and Bresee asked question after question. From when to put on a suit to when they were eating to when they were supposed to go to meetings. Henry said it made him feel like an old man.

Said Bresee jumped offsides on an early play, and then got a sack. “That’s Bryan Bresee right there.”

*He said he loves all of the youth along the defensive line but feels like the old man. “I am an old soul.”

*Henry said he is excited about playing in front of Clemson fans next week after playing in front of no fans this week. He said he can’t wait to play in front of “somebody.”

LB Mike Jones, Jr.

*He said he was nervous about making his first start and had to talk to his preacher and his mother this week. Once the game started he was ok.

*He said that nothing the freshman defensive linemen did surprised him. He said he has seen how good they are all during camp and now the rest of the country gets to see it.

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