The Demon Deacon’s win over Virginia Tech last weekend was a pivotal one. And, after two disappointments early in the season, Head Coach Dave Clawson and his squad seem to have found their groove. How do the team and coach feel about the trajectory of the season thus far? What does the big win over the No. 19 ranked team in the country mean for the program? How can we make sense of the historic performance of walk-on, true freshmen, Nick Anderson?
Hear what the players and the coach have to say — in their own words — about all this and more, below.
Coach Clawson on the play of his defense against Virginia Tech:
“[I’m] Really proud of our whole team, especially our guys on defense. [Earlier in the season, they] struggled out of the gate, [but] we really prepared hard and played hard [today] against an exceptional offense. We continued to do a good job of creating turnovers … limited one of the best tailbacks in the country … [were able to] hold Herbert to three or four yards a carry, when he was averaging 10 … we did a great job and executed the game plan very well.”
Clawson’s praise for the defense was more than warranted. The Hokies offense came into Winston-Salem averaging over 40 points per game (good for second best in the ACC) and ranked No. 2 in the nation in rush yards per game (312). Clawson’s defense held the Hokies to a measly 13 points and 210 yards on the ground.
Coach Clawson on freshman Nick Andersen and his heroic three-interception, 11-tackle performance:
“He came to our camp in high school, he wasn’t heavily recruited but we offered him a preferred walk-on spot. Fortunately for us he took it … That tells you what type of competitor he is,” Clawson said. “[The team] was chanting ‘Scholly, Scholly’ [after the game] so we’ll definitely be taking care of that this semester.”
Andersen’s remarkable play on Saturday marked the first time a Demon Deacon has made three interceptions in a single game since 1987. On Tuesday, Andersen was named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week. That night, he and Coach Clawson made an appearance on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. Not too shabby for a true freshman.
Quarterback Sam Hartman on Andersen’s success:
“First, I would really like to say, Nick Anderson, your welcome for throwing you so many picks in practice … I don’t want to take the spotlight off him, but I feel like I totally played a part in that … Totally kidding, [I try to throw] away from Andersen during practices,” Hartman said. “That kid is the definition of a Wake Forest football player: gritty [and] tough … He’s a warrior. I have no words to say how proud I am of him.”
Hartman on what the win means for the team during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“We’ve been here for six-seven months. We’ve sat in dorms, we’ve socially distanced, we’ve isolated … [so when] we’re all dancing out there, even for just for five or ten minutes, it feels like it’s normal,” Clawson said. “[These guys deserve to] celebrate after a huge win … we don’t get to do much of that [this year] with COVID … we’re not at the party house.”
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Sulaiman Kamara on what the win means for the Demon Deacons in 2020:
“[Coming into this season] guys didn’t really know how things were going to play out … [Now] we’ve seen that when we follow protocol, when we follow Coach Clawson’s guidelines, wear our masks, we [can] focus on ourselves. We want to come out of this pandemic and be a great team … and everyone’s doing their part.”
Andersen on what he attributes his success to, and the importance of the win:
“It starts with our coaches … We’re out here [working hard] every day and we’re intense. We treat [every practice] like a Saturday and we’re watching countless hours of film [which is why we’re ready] when we’re called upon to make that big play. It’s really all in the week’s preparation.
“[Today’s win] wasn’t about me, it’s about the team, about our coaching staff and about the preparation we’re putting in every week off the field. We came out [determined to] stop the run and make them beat us by throwing the ball … try and test us [and] our secondary, we’ll be ready for it.”
“Any time we get a win against an ACC, top-25 opponent … that’s a great feeling.”