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Meet the Press: Wake Forest

Sept. 1, 2009

Press Conference

Head Coach Art Briles

Opening Statement...
"New venue. New setting. New year. It has been emphasized many times, but it is definitely an honor and blessing for us to be over here on Baylor's campus. To think that our players have the success building now that they haven't had in previous years, it is a neat experience. It's a pleasure to be able to hold these events on campus. Everyone is aware that the season is upon us. We're just like everyone else in America today - we're excited, anxious, eager, hopeful and our questions are going to be answered this weekend. Our guys are focused and intense and they know what they have to do. We have to stop saying and start playing. I think we finished up as a pretty good football team last year. Our goal this year is to be better the first step than the last step last season. We were a good team when we stepped off the field last year so that means we've got to be pretty good against Wake this weekend."

On playing Wake Forest...
"It's huge in regards to who we're playing. We have to play a great team on its home turf. The thing we have to hope for is that they're up there in Winston-Salem saying we've got a tough opener. We want to be a respectable, credible football team. I think we've got the credible part down, but it's awfully hard to be a respected team. We started pretty good and played well throughout but the point we have to get to is being happy at the end. To be respected you have to win and we've got to do that."

On how the program has change in the last year...
"As far as changes in the program, fortunately we were able to keep all of our coaches which I think continuity is crucial for production so that part of it took care of itself. There is a comfort value with our players from that stand point. The fact that the administration has confidence in us as coaches allows us to coach freely and excel in our jobs of getting our young people to perform on and off the field. As far as the winning part, teaching someone that they deserve to win or how to win, that is something that goes on constantly, you always have to strive to be better than what you think you can be or what you are. Our guys feel like they deserve to win and they're prepared to win. They feel like they're knowledgeable and athletically gifted enough to win and that's what we have to do."

On the defense...
"We got nine guys back over there plus one if you want to throw Phil Taylor in the mix. We got some guys back that have played a bunch and played a bunch against a lot of good offenses. That side of the ball is not going to be shocked or surprised by anything that is thrown at them because there are some good offenses in this league. So that is a comforting factor to us. Just like we have to on offense, we have to rise up and make plays and that is what this is all about."

On what Phil Taylor brings to the defense...
"A physical presence is a pretty good start; I like that part of him. He adds needed depth. Phil is a guy that I respect his toughness. I respect his intellectual approach to the game. He is a guy that does not like to not be on winning side, which I think is critical. I am ready for Phil to be turned loose. At 3:36 p.m. ET Saturday, somebody is going to blow a whistle and a lot of these questions will be answered.

On the benefit of having played Wake Forest last season...
"It should help us not to be overconfident. We have better knowledge of them but looking at it from their standpoint, they could say they know us better as hopefully we do them."

Senior Joe Pawelek

On confidence on potentially going to a bowl game...
"We have a lot of big pieces coming back from a defensive standpoint. We have a couple of fifth-year guys coming back, so we definitely have the experience factor. With some young talent, we're ready to go."

On Coach Briles after having a season under his belt...
"Coach hasn't changed at all. From the moment that he stepped on campus he has been full of energy and expectations of himself and of us. Having him and his staff has been a huge plus for us."

On the offense...
"The offense has been looking good with some new additions. I think Robert (Griffin) has taken more of a leadership role this year. He is approaching this season's opener a lot differently than he did last year. "

On this game and what it means to the team...
"We have made a point this year to come out and start strong and I think that when you add a factor like that, coming off three straight bowl games, that changes things a bit. For us and for this program, this is a huge game for us."

Senior Jordan Lake

On his senior season...
"I'm pretty excited about it; we have to get off on the right foot and achieve our goals and that's one thing we've been looking forward to since the end of last season - getting on the right track and getting to a bowl game."

On the importance of starting off with a win...
"It's huge; 3-1 or 2-2 is so far behind going into conference. One of our goals is being 4-0 in non-conference and that's a huge leg up going into the Big 12 because competition gets harder. If we want to achieve our goal of going to a bowl game, we need to go 4-0."

Sophomore Robert Griffin

On season opener this weekend against Wake...
"I'm really excited just like the rest of the team. We're ready to put all of that effort from the off-season to work and put it on the field and see if we can exceed our expectations."

On the comfort level this year versus last year prior to the season opener...
"Last year was very uncomfortable. There were a lot of unknowns, a new quarterback, a new coach, just a whole new philosophy and system. We're a lot more confident going into this game; we know the quarterback and we know the philosophy and we know what the other team is going to try and do to us so we're hoping to go out there and get the win."

On the hype around the program and surrounding him...
"I think a lot of people's expectations are lower than ours, so it's not that tough looking at the expectations. But every time you turn around, there's another article out and you just have to take that and be humble about it. It's only because of what your team has done that you have accomplished those things. I couldn't have those stats or receive those accolades without the other 10 guys on the field."



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