It's Halloween, so I figured I didn't have much choice...Boo!
If you want something more substantial, Burlington Times News has an article about him here.
I'm trying to get away from just reporting every single bit of Wake-related news I find. I realize it's just as easy for you to go check the WSJ website as it is for me, so I'm going to try to focus more on my own analysis, announcement type things like the Clemson game time, and news that is especially interesting or from an obscure source you may not find otherwise.
This falls into the final category, from WRAL in Raleigh. David Glenn has written an excellent article about Wake's success, breaking down our program and coaching style, giving much credit to Grobe and staff. I couldn't agree more. Thanks to CHillDeac for bringing attention to it on the boards.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but after a suprisingly long wait (usually gets announced sometime in the afternoon the Monday two weeks before), it has been announced that we'll play Clemson at noon on ESPN2 on the 10th.
I know some have been getting frustrated with so many noon games, but considering we're headed to death valley I don't mind taking away a bit of the home field advantage and playing the game at noon. All things considered, I think this is a pretty good result for us.
I'm not sure why I didn't think to mention this first thing when I found out yesterday, but as rankings came out yesterday, things started looking reasonable for the first time this season. Wake jumped from being unranked in the AP poll all the way up to a tie for 21st with Boise State. The Deacs remain unranked in the USA today/coach's poll where we have the votes to be ranked 28th. Combined with a 25 ranking in the Harris poll and 19 in the computer averages, the Deacs have also cracked the BCS poll at 24. You can find these all together over on ESPN's website here.
The Deacs have certainly been on the road to a bit of national recognition, but it's been somewhat slow coming. I know I've got a little home-town bias and all, but nonetheless it seemed to take too long for this to happen. Nonetheless, it's definitely a better late than never situation, as a national ranking, particularly in the BCS and AP polls goes a long way in where we may wind up for a bowl, recruiting, and just national respect.
Virginia's loss on Saturday night was unfortunate as they will now not be ranked as highly when they face us, but they are still ranked, at 23 right ahead of us, which should make for a pretty exciting game. Clemson (somewhat suprisingly, but that's another topic) is still ranked as well at 25, so as long as they win this week we could be looking at some pretty exciting stuff next weekend against them as well.
Cheesy title? Stupid title? probably. Couldn't help myself though.
How about our Deacs? Against FSU, Navy, and today against UNC Wake has looked as good as they did any time last season. Today Wake played without making any significant mistakes giving up huge plays, turned the ball over exactly zero times, and solid performances out of just about everyone you wanted to see them out of. Where can we complain?
With two more defensive/special teams touchdowns (Marion kickoff return, Curry INT return), the Deacs now have nine on the season. When your defense can supplement the offense like that, winning football games isn't so difficult. Add to that another Curry interception, a fumble recovery, and you've got one of the better big play defenses around.
Josh Adams once again looked like a star. Although he failed to break the 100 yard mark to make it three weeks in a row, he scored two touchdowns and still put up 82 yards on 18 carries. You're not going to hear me complain about a 4.5 yard average. Riley was once again consistent, completing 12 of 15 passes for 133 yards. It was almost comforting to not need Kenny Moore to catch 12 passes for us to win. Instead he only had four, and Chip Brinkman actually had the most Wake receiving yards today.
The defense had two good looking interceptions today, and although they gave up 236 yards through the air, the secondary didn't really play poorly. They allowed a couple of slightly frustrating drives, but nothing worth getting upset about. The Carolina run was held to only 77 yards, with another good showing from the D-line. I would say that it was a relatively quite day for the defense, but mostly because they played well and kept Carolina's offense quite. That, to me, is a good day.
Kevin Marion showed some great speed and vision with two great kick returns, the first big one for a TD. Makes you wish he'd catch the ball so we could get the ball in his hands more often. Swank was predictably solid with three field goals, the longest being from 46 yards out. With his first field goal in the first quarter he became the leading scorer in Wake Forest history. Congrats, Sam.
So I was very impressed with Wake once again today. We played good, mistake free football. If we can keep this streak of solid play up, the end of this season should be a lot of fun.
Let's go bowling. But lets not stop here. If BC doesn't lose a couple for us, I want us to keep this up and make a run at something like the Chick-fil-a. We've got it in us.
Although it's coming a little late this week, I've once again had the opportunity to ask a few questions with someone writing about the opponent, this week with TH from CarolinaMarch:
1. I'll be honest, I've yet to see UNC play a football game this season. If I had been watching, which player or players would I be most worried about being beat by this weekend?Thanks to TH for the friendly banter, its nice to get a more light-hearted approach to these type of things. And please make sure to check out his blog, CarolianaMarch.com
TH: Connor Barth. Yeah, it may seem silly to worry about the kicker, but Barth had a rare missed field goal and a botched XP snap in his last game against SC. Connor Barth will be angry, and you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Barth Smash!
2. After the big win over Miami, the loss to South Carolina was probably tough to take. How will the bye week affect the team's momentum, and will it make a difference against Wake?
TH: I'm not sure it was that tough to take. In a game no one thought the Heels had any chance in, they dominated the Gamecocks throughout the second half and a couple of opportunities to walk away with the game.
UNC made it through the most brutal part of their schedule with an upset over the Hurricanes and no loss by more than seven points. They were 3-3 coming off byes under Bunting, including wins over FSU in '01 and undefeated Miami in '04. They're a resilient team.
[editors note: my bad for not thinking that South Carolina thing all the way through]
3. Where do the Tar Heels match up best against Wake? Where are they most likely to struggle?
TH: UNC's defense has gotten faster and smarter of late, with good secondary coverage disrupting a lot of opposing quarterbacks. I think they'll be able to handle the option. You guys do still run the option, right?
4. What must Carolina do to win this game?
TH: Not turn the ball over and to not have the defense come out sluggish. UNC's defense has had to dig itself out of quite a few holes this season after slow starts and bad turnovers on the offensive end. It's hard to win these games when the other team has the clock on their side.
5. Put your stamp on it: when all is said and done on Saturday, what will the final score be?
UNC 20, Wake Forest 17. The Deacons struggled with last year's squad, and this year's team hasn't really shown much improvement. And I'm
I feel like it's been a suprisingly quiet week in the news, but maybe that's primarily because I was expecting Basketball news to be picking up considerably. It hasn't really, so we're left with the average flow of football news.
There are a couple things to look forward to over the next couple of days:
1. I think there will be an interview with CarolinaMarch about Saturday's game.
2. I'm planning on doing a little pre-game preview today or tomorrow (maybe that's not something you look forward to, but I kind of hope so...)
3. NazT Deac from the Scout boards has volunteered to cover the Black and Gold scrimmage on Saturday afternoon - which is in the Varsity Gym on campus, not the Joel as previously reported.
That taken care of, here's whats been going on in the last 24 hours:
I don't know if it's a coincidence or if they worked together, but both the WSJ and the Greensboro News and Record have stories in today's papers about John Russel, high school teammate of Riley Skinner.
The Florida Times Union put out ACC power rankings today, and Wake is ranked 2nd behind only Boston College. To be honest, I'm surprised to see us getting that much respect - it seems kind of weird. I'm not going to complain though, let's just go prove we deserve it on Saturday.
Rivals.com predicts a Wake win, 21-17.
So there you go. Hopefully I can get the Carolina interview done today, but more than likely it won't be up until tomorrow. Don't let the rain keep you away from Groves on Saturday, and if you can, go pack the Varsity Gym immediately after!
Not a whole lot in the news today, mostly just a couple of WSJ articles about the importance of this game to many of our players, etc. and also a mention of Christopher Givens committing, which I mentioned yesterday. The AP also had an article about Josh Adams here.
Also yesterday was the weekly Tuesday press conference. I've thought about commenting on this before, but I don't really feel like there's a whole lot to stay about it. Grobe is a master at saying pretty much nothing, complimenting the efforts of our guys, and the athletes of the team we'll face that week. Nonetheless, a couple of comments...
Coach made a very astute comment about the race to win the division..."I'd have to say that if we win out, we'd be pretty happy. I don't think there's a team right now in the ACC that's realistically got their sights on Jacksonville. It might be in the back of everyone's mind, but you have to focus on the present." I think this is a great way to look at the conferene race. Winning out would be great, and puts us in great position. Even Boston College needs to be very careful and not start looking ahead (which I can't imagine they are looking at their remaining schedule). I just think coach has a great perspective here.
Riley made an interesting comment on rivalries..."Listening to the coaches, we take Carolina as a little more of a rivalry than some of the others. I think, lately, we've had maybe a little more of a rivalry with Clemson because so many of our games have been so close. We've just gone back and forth every year." This is something I haven't really thought about before, but may be true. While it probably won't ever be a rivalry that the fans see as a huge rivalry, I can see how it might be true for the players. Intriguing...
So that's about all I've got this morning. Thanks for all the responses with interest in the posters. I'll check on getting some more.
So at Screamin' Demons sign ups tonight I was able to get my hands on a bunch of basketball posters. I thought I'd grabbed a pretty big stack, but it turns out they're pretty thick and there were only ten (10) of them. Keeping one for myself, that leaves nine (9) extras. I know people over on the Scout boards expressed interest in getting their hands on one, so I though I might be able to help out. I'm not sure what the mailing tubes that I need to send them in will cost, nor how much priority mail postage for those tubes will be, but if you're willing to pay that cost (I'd guess around $5, could be a tiny bit less, maybe as much as $10, I really don't know. We can work that out when you get in touch with me) then I'm happy to help get them to you.
It'll be first come first serve, so send me an email here and we can determine logistics and what not. Hope this will help some of you!
UPDATE: As of about 9:00 this morning (Wednesday) the posters I currently have have all been claimed. I'll update again if I'm able to get more.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Wylie running back Christopher Givens has verbally committed to attend Wake next fall. Although currently out with a torn ACL, (his 2nd, he tore the other one in 2006) Givens was fast enough to win the 100 meter dash in his district last spring having just finished rehab from the other torn ACL. He plans to run track again this spring and will be in Winston-Salem next fall. He is listed at 6' 200 lbs, and rushed for over 200 yards in his only game this season. Hopefully he'll be able to stay healthy down the road.
I'm not sure how I failed to specifically mention it yesterday, but amidst all the news about how Prosser's death has affected teams, players, and coaches throughout the nation and specifically in the ACC, i didn't mention that the conference is naming an award after Skip. The Skip Prosser award was announced this weekend by ACC commissioner John Swofford and will be presented anually to the top student-athlete in the conference (much like the Jim Tatum award in football).
The press release announcing the award is on the official Wake sports site.
Also over there is the ACC preseason poll (we're picked 11th) and other preseason honors. At this point I can't decide how I feel about that ranking. I think there are definitely many unknowns about our team this season, including the constant struggle of getting past the unfortunate loss of Skip. Although it's a long shot, there's part of me that believes we could play well enough to finish in the top half of the conference, but something like 8th or 9th is probably more realistic. I don't have a good basis for this prediction, and probably won't know until we've seen several games.
Wake football players earned several awards this weekend: Josh Adams earned his 3rd ACC rookie of the week award, and Sam Swank was a Lou Groza award "Star of the Week."
One more note (a reprint from yesterday)...I'm looking for someone who'd be interested in attending and writing a little bit about the Black and Gold game saturday afternoon since I won't be able to attend. Let me know if that's you.
Welcome to another Monday morning, thankfully following another Deacon win. The 44-24 victory over Navy has been well covered (be sure to check out the live blog I did every quarter (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) and my final analysis as well.
I know many were hoping to see us ranked this week, but as it stands now we're still just others "receiving votes" in the polls. Looks like we're ranking anywhere from about 28 to the mid-30s.
As promised, a basketball update:
With the ACC's preseason media day happening this weekend, all sorts of news outlets are talking about Skip. While it would be nice if they had more positives to say about the actual team we plan to put on the court, I suppose any news is better than no news. So, here's the rundown of worthwhile articles:
AP (via MSNBC)
And finally, a couple football notes from the news...Kenny Moore is really good...Jordan Williams is going to keep playing.
One more note...Saturday at 4:30 (after the UNC football game) the basketball team will play its Gold and Black game in the Joel. Although I have yet to hear confirmation that these are the correct time and place, I'm guessing they are correct. I will be at the football game, but unfortunately will have to split town shortly thereafter. Therefore, I was hoping that perhaps there was a reader who would be attending the basketball scrimmage and might be interested in writing a little something about their impressions. If interested please contact me (there's a link to email me at the top of this sidebar on the right) and we'll see what we can work out.
This was a very important game for the Demon Deacons. Now, when I say that what I mean is that it was a game we not only needed to win, but that we needed to come out in and execute and show that we are really a solid team with the ability to put all the pieces together. If you recall I predicted we would lose to FSU because I didn't believe we had everything together yet in such a way that would allow us to win. Last week we won and for the most part we looked like we had it together.
Today against Navy the Deacs showed that we are a team with all its pieces together. It was a performance we needed to prove to ourselves that we were a team poised to run the table. We needed to prove the same thing to the rest of the ACC and the rest of the country. Everyone knew Navy would score some points today; there was no way Wake would come out knowing exactly how to shut down a very potent option attack. The offense needed to score points early and often to allow our defense time to settle in and stop Navy. The offense did exactly that, scoring 14 points in the 1st quarter. As expected, the defense allowed Navy to score some points, giving up 10 in the first and another 7 in the 2nd to give up the lead. What did we need to see? We needed to see a defense that wouldn't give up. Thankfully they didn't. Aaron Curry laid some big hits, including the one that injured Navy's QB Kaipo, and Alphonso Smith forced a fumble to allow Matt Robinson to score at TD. Right then everything came together.
Wake owned the 2nd half. We scored another 17 points and only gave up 7, putting together sustained time consuming drives, exhibiting strong running by both Josh Adams and Micah Andrews, solid passing from Riley, and another good effort from Kenny Moore. Josh had 131 yards and a TD, and in limited action Micah gave us 32 important yards. Riley looked as good as he has all year, completing 22 of 28 passes for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kenny Moore had 181 receiving yards and caught both of Riley's TD passes. What more can we ask for?
I really don't think there's any significant negatives I can comment on. We played well. We played hard. We got a well deserved win and looked good doing it. I'm fully satisfied.
Also of note - Coach Grobe burned true freshman Jordan Williams' redshirt. I only saw him thrown to once, where the Navy defender was called for PI. I assume Grobe wouldn't burn a redshirt like this unless he expected significant contributions from him the rest of the season, so I look forward to seeing what he's got.
Great job Deacs, keep up the good work!
14:52...Touchdown, Riley Skinner to Kenny Moore. What a catch by Kenny on a big 3rd down play. Wake leads now 44-24. That pass was very nearly intercepted. I think we may have just been lucky there, but sometimes luck pays.
12:53...Another very dumb play, this time by Aaron curry. Actually maybe not, he was pushed. Bad call. Very bad call. After a good defensive stop a penalty like that hurts. Do it again, D! (now from midfield)
11:42...The option is rolling again. I'm not sure what changed, but that roughing penalty is looking painful. It looks like we only stop them when Bryant makes a bad read instead of us actually making great plays. Until that play by Brandon Ghee!!!!
10:08...And a good play on 4th down. Wake ball on the turnover on downs. Time to eat some clock on another long drive. Umm...what is this timeout? all of our coaches seem confused, Riley seems confused. I think someone messed up here, but I can't tell who. Lobo? Riley? Maybe Lobo's taking responsibility, but I don't think its for the same reasons these stupid announcers said.
9:19...Unfortunate 3 and out there. Apparently nothing there on 2nd down when Skinner rolled out, and the O-line and Micah couldn't get anything done. Great punt into the wind. Awful coverage, as Swank has to knock him out somewhere around our 40.
7:48...Great play by Boo Robinson to stop them for the loss, but be careful grabbing that helmet. Navy dropped pass on 3rd brings up 4th and 16. Let's wrap it up, Deacs.
7:21...Sack by Matt Robinson and Chantz McClinic, Wake gets the ball at their 45. Maybe we can drive the ball this time?
5:11...Kenny Moore is in athletic man. And apparently pretty smart, too. Way to make a play and keep the clock moving.
3:48...Another good 1st down run from Josh Adams. Exactly the drive we needed here. Clock is moving, and we're picking up yards.
3:00...See the post above, cause he just did it again.
1:00...We win. Gotta love taking a knee. Final Score - Wake 44, Navy 24. Beautiful game. Look for final analysis sometime soon. Enjoyed doing this live blog, but if you have any thoughts or suggestions leave a comment and let me know!!!
Gotta love the gesture by our team, going over with Navy for the Navy hymn I believe they call it. Maybe I'm wrong, if so correct me.
14:54...Navy fullback Ketani goes and gets 18 or so yards on 1st down. Can't let him break out like that.
13:28...Jared Bryant runs all the way to our 12 on 3rd down. Like I said, there offense is still scary with him at the helm.
13:04...Touchdown on 1st down from the 12 with the option pitch. Poor tackling on the play, but nonetheless a great pitch by Bryant and a good run to boot. Offense must keep up the hard work. Wake still leads, but now only 27-24.
13:04...Pooch kick gets hung up in the wind...Wake fair catch at their own 40. I like our field position for the most part today.
12:50...Josh Adams with a 13 yard run on 2nd down to Navy's 47. The man can run the football.
12:13...JOSH ADAMS! Great stiff arm and another 22 yards, plus a late hit out of bounds to get half the distance to the goal , we should be on the 10, 1st down.
11:15...After 2 runs from Josh Adams, Micah Andrews comes in and gets the 2 yard touchdown. Great drive by Wake, that's the kind drive we need to keep putting together. 34-24 Wake after the Swank extra point.
8:50...Matt Woodlief, great hit in the backfield on 2nd down. 3rd and long from their own 42.
8:12...It's inconsistent, but Navy's moving the ball with the pass. Another 1st down, now at our 40.
7:35...Navy fumbles!!! Wake's ball on the recovery at the 20...but its going under review. The replays look like a fumble to me. Can't be overturned I don't think.
6:54...The plays where we don't go anywhere on the ground are the plays where our O-line gives up significant penetration. I know it seems obvious, but that is absolutely the thing that makes the difference.
4:36...We've got a good looking driving going down towards Navy's 35. Micah needs to not hesitate when he hits that hole. The space was there but it looked like he was dancing in there. Here comes Swank for a 53 yard field goal.
3:55...Swank drills it low and straight. Wake up 37-24.
2:56...Another forced fumble, and even though we didn't pick it up I like to see us working on getting that football. Also, great coverage by Chip Vaughn. Should have been picked off I think, as now Navy gets the 1st down on the ground.
2:33...Wake falls on the fumbled snap!!!! Another turnover for the Deacs, first down on Navy's 39.
1:25... I've really been impressed by the way we've created first downs today. I love it when we don't have to rely on huge plays to win games. Lots of extended drives and taking 3 plays to get good first down makes me a very happy blogger.
Overall I've been impressed here in the first half. Riley has thrown the ball well, Josh Adams has run well, Kenny Moore has caught some big passes. I know our defense hasn't dominated, but with our performance in the last of the 2nd quarter I feel like they've played as well as can be expected. Injuring the Hawaiian was big, as the backup doesn't quite seem to have it. When they get the ball back to start the 2nd half and the clock is no issue, I imagine we'll see them drive the ball again, but our defense looks like it's getting more and more comfortable.
As long as the offense keeps putting points on the board we have nothing to worry about. Aaron Curry is a beast and the defense is getting better and better out there. We may win this game comfortable, but we can't bank on that yet. Just keep playing hard.
Update: Navy QB Kaipo out for game with neck injury. I think with Navy's offense it doesn't make as much difference as it would for some times, but still should work to our advantage, even though you always hate to see someone hurt.
I have a lot of respect for David Robinson...great basketball player and a great man.
13:48...We need to not drop passes today. Can't afford giving downs up like that. John's drop was not a big deal, but Chip's on 2nd down was bad.
13:40...I couldn't tell how long that field goal was, and the announcers aren't helping us out right now. Just looked like a relatively poor kick. Big 3rd down here for Navy
12:24...Man that is just nasty! 2 good stops and then they break another big 1. At this point they are consistently picking up 1 out of 3 big plays. We've gotta do something to make that change.
12:18...What a great catch. We need overturned review badly. Very very close call. After review...no catch. Dangit, but a great play nonetheless.
12:12...So many things they can do with that. Incredible. I just don't know what we have to change to stop that play.
11:43...Are we overplaying the pitch? Starting to look like maybe we are. All the way down to our 17.
10:24...Touchdown Navy. 17-14 Navy leads. I really thought we could make a tackle there but both Alphonso and someone else missed it. We can't let them stop our offense any more until we've got there's under control.
10:12...We can't do dumb stuff like holding penalties. We will lose this game if we beat ourselves with things like that. I can't tell if the hold broke the play open or not, but it kills us either way.
8:36...Crucial throw to Kenny Moore on 3rd and 8 for about 20 yards. We could not afford to stall there.
7:37...Great catch by Kenny. We've gotta keep converting 3rd downs like this.
6:43...Josh Adams just runs hard. Good blocking by the line, but Josh got almost 5 yards after contact on that run. 1st down on the 27.
4:26...We're getting good protection here, we should be able to find some people down field going forward. big 3rd and 3 from Navy's 9 yard line. A touchdown here is essential. Tying the game is all well and good, but we need to get the lead back, as I fully expect them to go get at least 3 before the half. Time out Navy.
3:18...Big Navy stop of the Adam's run on 3rd down. Swank's 32 yard field goal is good to tie it up at 17. Time for the defense to step up.
2:38...What a hit by Aaron Curry!!!!!! I'm not even going to try to spell the Navy QB's name, but he is down. What a pop. Of course we all hope the QB is alright long term. Nonetheless, great job D.
2:19...HUGE TURNOVER!!!!!! It may get reviewed, but right now we have a fumble on the sack and a return for a TD. I believe that was Alphonso on the hit, and the return for a TD was Matt Robinson.
REVIEW CONFIRMS THE CALL, TD WAKE!!!!! 24-17 lead with 2:19 left in the half. That's the D's 7th touchdown, averaging 1 a game. That's incredible.
2:06...10 yard QB draw for Navy, and another one right after for 2. No big gains and the clock will keep the to a field goal at best.
1:34...Just can't make a stop, another 10 or 15 yards on the option pitch to Wake's 48.
1:28...Aaron Curry with another stop for a 2 yard loss. Timeout Navy as we look at 2nd and 12 from mid field.
1:02...Sack by Anthony Davis and Zach Stukes to force 4th and 15. Wake takes a time out. On our 2nd straight defensive stop. A time crunch is not surprisingly very bad for Navy's offense.
0:51...Wake's ball at the 24 after the punt. I expect pretty conservative play calls here just to see if we happen to bust something big.
0:40...25 yard pass to Kenny over the middle! Ball on Navy's 45
0:30...Another 5 yards over the middle, Wake takes 2nd time out.
0:23...Great throw to Kenny rolling out to the left. 1st down from the 24. PI called on the 1st down on the next play. This live blogging is tough when we're moving quick. Can't keep up!
0:10...Skinner scrambles on 1st down from about 12, gets out of bounds at the 7.
0:04... Quick throw to Terishinski goes nowhere, last time out taken by Wake, here comes Swank.
0:00...Swank makes the 26 yarder, 13 unanswered to finish the half up 27-17.
I know I hadn't really planned on doing this, but since I'm sitting here watching the game on TV I can't see why I shouldn't do a little live blog...
15:00...How about that return! Explosiveness like that will go a long way.
14:01...After a pretty conservative 1st and 2nd down (which is expected). Riley hits Kenny Moore on a nice crossing route for a TD. Great start for the Deacons. 7-0
13:49...Although they could have caught that screen and maybe gone a long way, if they feel like they have to be throwing on 1st down I think this will be a good afternoon...but that was a nice option play. Man the option is scary.
10:31...About a 27 yard field goal for Navy. 7-3 Wake leads. We looked rough there for a little while, and that option looks like it can be nasty. I'm not entirely sure what we changed, but we held well in the red zone.
10:11...Kevin Marion having a day (or at least a 1st quarter) on special teams. Question...should I write this going down, or should newer posts go up? Let me know.
8:34... Careful there Riley...great scramble, but lets not get ourselves hurt with a sloppy slide like that.
7:32...Great drive for Josh. Several solid runs, great footwork and pretty good looking speed too. Ends it with a 1 yard touchdown run. Wake leads 14-3.
7:25...As good as we've looked on kick return, that kick coverage has struggled both times now. Once again they have the ball over the 40 yard line to start a drive.
4:32...Ridiculous spot there on 3rd down. Great hit by Chip, it should be 4th and 1. They probably go for it on 4th anyway, but I'd rather make them do that then give them an easy first.
2:34...We gotta be more disciplined then that against this Navy offense. They're going to get their big plays, but we can't give them 5 free yards on stupid penalties like that.
0:46...Good stop on 2nd down, but that TD was more or less inevitable at that point. 14-10 Wake still leads. I'm not sure what to say about our defense at this point. I don't feel like they are playing poorly, just haven't quite figured out how to prevent those 7 and 8 yard plays that allow them to keep getting first downs.
0:00...End of the first quarter up 14-10. We're going to have to keep putting points on the board to win the game because I don't think we'll be able to stop the option consistently. Also, CSTV announcers are terrible. I know many of you on the board thread noticed that rediculous comment about Grobe and Lobo figuring out how to take advantage of Wake having 8 in the box on D. Come on. We're driving again, lets go put some more points on the board.
Before I let it go as an oversight any longer, along with the excellent Birddog blog, there is one other Navy blog that everyone should take a look at, Pitch Right. Currently posted over there are an analysis of Wake's team so far this year as well as Navy's keys to the game. Both should be read by all.
I have also been negligent in getting links to the WSJ's articles up this week, including a story about Jeremy Thompson as a non-redshirt senior, and another about Steve Justice as a quite leader.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, several things worth mentioning. First off, Wake is getting little respect in the betting community, as Larry Cook at procappers is offering his free pick this week of Navy of Wake. Some advice: ignore Larry Cook.
That pretty much covers the significant news items these last couple days. The Deacs travel up to Annapolis today in preparation for the game tomorrow. For anyone who hasn't heard, the game is on CSTV at 1:00, however if you don't have access to a TV, or don't have access to CSTV, they are streaming the game for free with their XXL video service online at CSTV.com. All you have to do is click on live games and then XXL in the bar at the top. Unfortunately you must be using Internet Explorer for this to work, but such is life. As I'm out of town for fall break, I'm banking on this option to see the game, and I'm sure many of you will find it beneficial as well.
Finally, I'll give a little mini-preview of what I expect to see tomorrow. I'll be honest when I say I don't know a lot about Navy's football season. Most of what I know comes from what Mike James told me earlier this week, what I've read on their forums and blogs, and the very little bit I saw of their game against Pitt.
I've generally been surprised at how scared most Navy fans seem to be about this game. They all seem terrified of our offense, particularly when it comes to throwing the ball, and not particularly confident against our defense either. While I agree that we are fast and strong in these two areas, I do not have great confidence in our ability in those areas, mostly because our offense still loves to be inconsistent, and our defense has yet to face an option attack like we will see tomorrow.
I do expect that the high the Deacs are on after last week's victory over FSU will manifest itself not in overconfidence, but in good, mistake free football. I think a win like that makes our team confident in its abilities the rest of the way, but not so much so that they would overlook any of our remaining opponents. That being said I look forward to seeing the Deacs come out tomorrow and put on a solid, relatively mistake free performance. With a solid option offense like Navy has, they're going to put some points on the board, but I expect the Deacs to play great on the offensive side as well, and in the end overpower Navy's attack. My prediction: Wake 42, Navy 31.
Time for another installment of the ever popular (or at least popular the one other time it happened) interview with our opponent. This week I had the privilege of talking with Mike James, writer of The BirdDog Navy Sports Blog, which you should be sure to check out for some excellent and interesting writing about Navy sports. His answers to my questions follow:
Although he deserves a little bit of a hard time for skipping out on the score prediction, I definitely appreciate the great effort from Mike. Enjoy, and make sure to go check out the BirdDog as well.
1. What Navy player or players has/have been most exciting to watch so far this season? What might we expect to see from him/them this weekend?
Mike James: Because of the nature of the triple option, there's a different person getting the ball every week. Most defenses focus on taking away one particular element of the option, leaving the other two free to make plays. The most consistent performer each week has been our quarterback, Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. He's had 4 100-yard rushing games already this season. He had 117 yards in the first half against Ball State before leaving the game with an injury. He isn't the shiftiest runner, but he's a long strider with ridiculous speed. He is also a better passer than most people expect from a Navy quarterback.
Navy rotates several players in at the other skill positions. At fullback, Adam Ballard is a bruiser while Eric Kettani is faster. Both will play. The slotbacks in this offense are required to be a receiver as much as a running back, and they've each taken turns having big games this year. Reggie Campbell scored three touchdowns at Pittsburgh. Shun White had 100 rushing yards against Temple. Both Campbell and Zerbin Singleton are tied for the team lead in receptions. At Navy, it's about the position more than the player. It all depends on what the defense decides to take away. That is, unless you're Pitt. They didn't take away much of anything.
For those who appreciate that sort of thing, our center, Antron Harper, is a real bowling ball.
2. Navy's run game has been predictably solid this year, but Wake's run defense has also been very good. How do you expect this match-up play out on Saturday?
MJ: I am very impressed with Wake Forest's run defense. Watching the game against Florida State, it looked to me like the Seminoles gave up even trying to run on Wake's defense. That made all the difference, because it put pressure on an unpolished Xavier Lee to carry his team. Defending normal running games is a lot different than defending the triple option, though. A lot of the things that defenses do to stop the run-- being aggressive, anticipating, etc.-- can get them in trouble against the option if they don't do it carefully. The important thing is to play under control and mind your assignments. Of course, I doubt that playing disciplined football is a problem for a Jim Grobe team.
The Navy offense has been on fire all year with the exception of the Rutgers game. Rutgers doesn't have a particularly big defense, but they are very fast. They were able to use their speed not only to pursue from sideline to sideline, but to get penetration against the Navy offensive line. Athletically, I think that the Wake Forest defense is very similar to Rutgers and could present a lot of the same problems.
3. Where do you see Navy matching up best against the Deacons, and where do you expect to see the most problems?
MJ: Navy's best matchup-- and this is admittedly a stretch-- might be the offensive line vs. the Wake defensive line. Wake has a very talented d-line, but it's also fairly young on the interior. Younger players have the most trouble defending the option because they usually aren't as prepared for the speed and technique of the offense. If Navy can establish the fullback and wear the defense down up the middle, they'll have a chance. Defensive ends are marginalized against this offense because they often become the quarterback's read key.
Wake's best matchup is pretty much their whole offense vs. the Navy defense. Navy's defense isn't very good. To give you an idea of the problem that Navy has this week, just look at the Air Force game. Air Force is coached by former Grobe assistant Troy Calhoun, and they run an offense that is very similar to Wake's. They are run-oriented and make extensive use of misdirection and play-action. They don't have even half the athletes that Wake Forest has, yet they still put up 470 yards of offense on Navy. Our coach has described the Wake offense as "Air Force on warp speed."
Navy doesn't tackle well, which means that Josh Adams should have a field day. Navy only has 3 sacks this year, which means that Riley Skinner will have plenty of time to throw. Navy tries to limit the big play by employing a soft zone coverage scheme, which means that there should be plenty of room for Wake's excellent TEs to make plays underneath. Navy has also lost two safeties and a middle linebacker to injury. Wake's offense probably can't wait to take the field.
4. At 4-2, Navy is looking pretty good this season and has an identical record to the Deacons, however most everyone says that Wake will be Navy's toughest test so far this season. How confident are you in the Mids' ability to win this weekend? What are the keys for Navy if they are to win this game?
MJ: Navy can win this game, but it will take either a performance that the defense hasn't shown so far, or a little help from the Deacs. And by that, I mean turnovers. Navy was 1-2 in its first 3 games, and is 3-0 since. The difference has been turnovers; Navy had 7 in the first 3 games, and 1 in the last 3. Navy's offense has had to score on almost every drive in order to keep pace with the points that the defense has been giving up, and the turnovers made that impossible. I think that Navy will score, but scoring on every drive, which is fine against Air Force, is just too much to ask against the Wake defense. Since Navy hasn't really stopped anyone all year, that means that Wake will need to make some mistakes.
5. When all is said and done, what will the final score be on Saturday? Looking forward, how do you expect Navy to finish out the season?
MJ: I apologize in advance for the wishy-washy answer, but I really hate predictions. I will say that I expect this to be a high-scoring game. As for the rest of the season, Navy is capable of beating everyone on the schedule with this offense. With this defense, they could lose to anyone, too. Assuming we get a little of both the rest of a way, that means 7-5 or 8-4 with a trip to San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl. Some Rubio's fish tacos and a trip to the zoo would make for a great Christmas vacation.
Although it's midterm week here on campus (and a short week at that), I'm trying to keep the OGB up to date on any news coming out.
Ironically, today's article in the WSJ about the game this weekend focuses on Navy's coach, Paul Johnson, while Annapolis's Capital Gazette wrote a mostly accurate and favorable assessment of the Deacs so far this year. As far as I can tell, no significant news out of either team's practices yet this week.
Winston-Salem Journal: Johnson surpasses his goal
Annapolis Capital Gazette: Mids expect another tough homecoming test
Also, I'm hoping to have another interview up in the next couple days. More details to follow.
Josh Adams 140 yards and 2 touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 receiving) has earned him ACC Rookie of the Week honors.
It goes without saying that I expect it to be the first of many awards he receives over the next four years.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to post all weekend as I wasn't able to get an internet connection in my hotel, and didn't get home until late last night with plenty of work to do. Since I've gotten behind, I'm going to try to catch up.
Over the weekend:
2nd ranked men's soccer beat NC State 4-0 on Saturday, while the 18th ranked women's team lost 1-0 to 11th ranked UNC
Our 3rd ranked field hockey team improved to 9-4 with a 5-1 victory over Pacific.
In the WSJ this weekend:
Football: Wake is Fast,
Basketball: Better Defense
I think that's about it, although this seems a bit light. Wake does have some votes in both the AP and Coaches polls, but we haven't cracked it yet. Keep winning and it should happen soon though.
I've got a busy week, but I'll try to stay on top of news and things. Let me know if you find something I should mention!
24 hours later and it still feels pretty dang good. . . A lot of the game remains a blur, but having just read over the live blog of the game from the AOL FanHouse, I'm reminded of really what a great game it was. I'm sure the first half, or at least the first quarter, was somewhat painful to watch for anyone without a real rooting interest in the game, but the second half was compelling football.
I wish I could go back through the game and sort of make comments on specific things as I go, but unfortunately I don't have a copy of the game to do that with. There are a few things I want to talk about anyway, almost all of them positive.
Officiating: Was pretty dang bad. I still haven't seen the call on the punt from the first half, which it sounds like they may have gotten more or less correct, but even if they did it was terrible mess. I know there has been some complaining about the block in the back call on the punt return in the 3rd quarter, but from where I was standing it looked like the right call. Like I said, though, I haven't seen the replay so I guess I don't know for sure. I realize it was probably a tough game to call just because of how sloppy it tended to be, but it didn't really seem like the refs had good control of the game.
Riley Skinner: Played pretty dang well. The interception in the 3rd quarter was absolutely a bad throw that probably shouldn't have been made in the first place, and I'm guessing Riley wouldn't argue too much about that. The other interception in the 4th was floated a little bit, but I'd say that was more of a good play by the safety than a bad throw by Riley. He threw Tereshinski several good balls, and the throw to Kenny for the touchdown was a thing of beauty. Great performance overall
Josh Adams/Micah Andrews: Proved to be a pretty versatile combo. Josh ran hard at the beginning of the game, and his touchdown run was incredible. I didn't think he'd be able to outrun both of those guys, but he proved me wrong. The fumble was definitely a bad mistake, but since we won I think I can forget about that. I don't know exactly what the game plan was as to when Josh or Micah would get carries, as it looked like Josh got most of the first half carries and then Micah all of a sudden got most of them in the 2nd half. Micah looked pretty good, though, and I think the combo is going to be pretty special to watch for the rest of this year.
Alphonso Smith: Looked great for the entire game minus one drive and one penalty. Looked like he could have had another pick-six in the 4th quarter on FSU's last TD drive, but he did have a big INT in the endzone, and other than the one drive when Carr made him look pretty bad twice and the block in the back, he had a pretty solid game. Definitely our defensive leader.
Offensive Line: Good enough. I still don't quite know what to make of our line. Our run blocking looked pretty poor for most of the first half, but every once in awhile they would open a good looking hole. Can't complain about the pass blocking. One sack is forgivable against a pretty good FSU defensive line, but that run blocking could look better.
I'm sure there are some other players/units that I could mention but those are the ones most on my mind right now. I guess I should give Sam Swank some credit for the huge field goal to essentially lock it up, and Demir Boldin for really locking it up. If I left someone out, go ahead and leave a comment.
I wasn't confident that it would happen, and until Demir Boldin let the Noles light him up-and hold on to the ball-I didn't relax, but somehow the Deacs managed to pull it off.
At this point it still feels like a bit of a blur; all I know is that I enjoyed an incredible night of football and that the Deacons proved their legitimacy. I know it wasn't the prettiest victory ever, but when it counted everyone came through. I was incredibly proud of the Defense, who looked AMAZING except for the drive after the fumble when Phonz got burned twice. The offense, while not incredible, did enough to get the job done. It was awesome to come through with multiple big plays for the first time in awhile.
I'm sure I'll have more to say, but for now it's time to bask. What a great night! Great football, great weather, the Quad looks great, and the Deacs are 4-2 with a win over Florida State. It's a great night to be a Deacon.
I don't want to upstage the excitement of our game tonight with Florida State, but I think people may be interested in reading the pre-season attention Wake basketball has been getting in anticipation of the beginning of practices.
Most notably, USA Today wrote a nice piece about Skip, Gaudio, and all that surrounds the beginning of this season (although they do unfortunately mention that we are expected to finish last in the ACC). Check it out.
The AP also put out a nice piece regarding Skip and our season ahead. SI.com has it here.
Update: one more that I missed, from the Rocky Mountain Telegram
Go Deacs! Let's stomp the Noles tonight! I hope many of you will be there, and preferably early!
So after a true formal Q&A failed, Jerry Scott over at Tomahawk Nation went ahead and asked one basic question: " Is this the same Wake Forest Squad that hammered our asses at home (30-0) last season?" You can check out my full response over there.
Now Jerry thought it would be nice to give me hard time for my prediction that we'd lose 20-24, so I'm going to take this opportunity to defend myself. Let me be very clear. . .Wake CAN win this game tonight, we absolutely can. We are talented enough to play these guys very well and leave Groves with a win. I will be at there cheering like crazy with a completely reasonable hope of winning. Nonetheless, as my reply to Jerry said, I have yet to see Wake put everything together this season and play to their potential for more than 17 minutes plus overtime against Maryland. I don't think that will cut it tonight.
I didn't think it was fair to make a score prediction based solely on a hope that we live up to potential tonight. If we play like we've played all year-playing well for a couple of minutes here and there, then quickly unraveling-20-24 is what I think will happen.
After last year's schalacking, the FSU guys are looking for anything to latch on to that proves to them we can't do it again this year. Well, we can. Will we? Probably not, but we're capable.
All that being said, I enjoyed the friendly banter with Jerry and wish he and Tomahawk Nation all the best.
Due to some unfortunate miscommunication, Myself and the guys over at Tomahawk Nation have been unable to get a Q&A together for this week's game. I'm not sure what the Navy blog/sports writing scene looks like, but hopefully I can have another one or two of these in the next couple of weeks. They have been talking about us a little bit over at Tomahawk Nation (and more about Xavier Lee missing practice) so I encourage you to go check them out.
Also, I hope to have a little bit of a game preview up later tonight.
After writing pretty steadily last week, I've proven to be just about the worst blogger ever this week. I originally planned to watch the Wake/Duke game Saturday night when I got back from playing baseball, but then things just didn't work out and I've been busy with school work since. As it looks now, with us playing again tomorrow night, I may not get around to watching the Duke game at all.
Also, I know everyone enjoyed the interview I did with David Dohrmann last week, and I was really hoping to do the same thing this week with Florida State, possibly with the guys from tomahawk nation, but unfortunately they have not been getting back to me, and with the game being tomorrow it seems that we may not have that this week either.
So, I've basically been a failure this week as a blogger, and for that I apologize. I've avoided posting other things because I kept hoping I'd get around to watching and analyzing the Duke game, but I think I'm moving past that now. We'll see what I can come up with these next couple days.
I'm over 24 hours late getting this up, and I still haven't seen the game (been playing baseball all weekend), but I hope to see it in the next 24 hours and give my analysis. Wake wins, which is good. We probably weren't impressive, which is not as good, but I'll find that out soon. If you want to comment on it, please do!
I've realized something in beginning this blog: I've never really thought about sports from a mostly analytical point of view. I watch the games as a fan, root for my teams, get excited about the really good plays and players, and get very upset about bad plays and players. However I don't pay close enough attention when it comes to analyzing what actually went right or wrong down to the very last details.
Now I do want this to be a blog written primarily by a fan, so I will be biased towards Wake, I will talk about things from a fan's point, and I probably won't apologize for it. But, as readers I expect you to be interested in reading from someone who is a fan but is also knowledgeable and able to write analytically about what's going on on the court/field etc.
So, now that I expect to be writing about many major Wake sporting events, I'm sure my viewpoint will become one that pays more attention to these details and is more analytical. But at this point, I just haven't watched the games in such a way that allows me to have formed many of my own detailed analysis or opinions. Nonetheless, with help from some various statistics and just my own general thoughts, I hope to start things off along those lines right now.
So with that out of the way, let's take a look at this weekend contest at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium. My first instinct is that we should kill them, but I know that is the emotional fan in me. Now that doesn't mean we don't have the ability to crush them, but I don't think we should assume it will happen. Before getting to the final score, I'll take a look at how our opposing units match up.
Wake Defense vs. Duke Run Game
Wake has been holding opponents to 115 ypg and 2.9 ypc, which is about middle of the pack in the ACC, and Duke is only rushing for 60 a game, so I would expect Wake to have little difficulty shutting down the run game. Duke knows the run game is not their strong suit, so I expect to see a mostly aerial attack on Saturday.
Wake Defense vs. Duke Passing Game
Thaddeus Lewis may be the real deal, and regardless of his long term prospects, Wake must focus on the fact that he has played outstanding football this season. He will attack us early and often, and we had better be ready. Our defense has been surrendering 237 ypg through the air, a number that may not improve this week. Although Alphonso Smith and Chip Vaughn are proven solid players in the secondary, the overall play of our secondary is still very inconsistent, which should be our biggest worry against Duke. On the bright side, Duke's pass block is less than solid, so if we can get into the backfield with guys like Jeremy Thompson, we may be able to help the secondary out. If Wake plays solid secondary defense and gets some pressure in the backfield, they should have no problem coming away with a victory.
Wake Run vs Duke Defense
The running game has been one of the most frustrating aspects of our attack this season. Micah Andrews has been less than impressive, and even this week Coach Grobe won't say that Josh Adams is the starter. Although I expect Adams to get the bulk of the carries on Saturday, the fact of the matter is our run game is still too inconsistent to rely on. That being said, Duke is giving up 190 ypg on the ground, so if we can get either Andrews, Adams, or both going, it could be a good day on the ground.
Wake Pass vs. Duke Defense
The Deac's passing game has also been frustrating this year, do in large part to the injury to Riley Skinner and the inability of any receiver other than Kenny Moore to catch a pass (Kevin Marion I'm talking about you!). However, I don't believe Duke's passing defense is particularly scary and I expect Riley to be at nearly 100%, meaning we should be able to have a pretty good day through the air.
I doubt there will be much argument with me saying Wake's special teams are significantly better than Duke's. Sam Swank may not look quite as dominant as last year, but he is still one of the best kickers in the ACC and the rest of our special teams have looked pretty good as well. Duke has blocked three kicks this year, the most in the ACC, which is something to look out for, but I think we'll be able to handle them.
As you have probably gathered, I'm cautiously hopeful about this game. As much as I would love to see us come out and play up to our abilities with our best performance of the season, I'm not really sure we're there yet. If we take care of Duke's passing game (easier said than done) then we shouldn't have too many problems, but if Thad Lewis gets going it could be a closer game than Wake fans are hoping for. As David Dohrmann pointed out yesterday, Duke has a tendency to make stupid mistakes that come back to bite them, which I expect to see this weekend.
I am confidently expecting a win this weekend, but not by as comfortable a margin as I would like. Final score: Wake 31, Duke 21.
Finally, if you disagree with something I've said I'd love to hear about it. I don't claim to know everything and I'd love for others to participate here through the comments below. Also, I'll be playing baseball this Saturday afternoon and probably won't get to see the game until I watch it on ACC Select Saturday night. Hopefully I'll be able to post my thoughts on Sunday.
Clearly football and basketball will get the most attention here on the OGB, but when you have the best soccer team in the nation and it's getting recognized in a nice article from USA Today, it's certainly worth a mention.
I've only been to two games this year, and I don't know much about the sport other than what I've learned from playing FIFA soccer video games, so it's difficult for me to comment in too many specifics. Nonetheless, the article will get you a little excited about our soccer team and the efforts they are putting forth on the field.
Also, today's WSJ includes a story about Chip Vaughn and his maturation into a leader in the defensive secondary. Very nice, and worth a read, but nothing of great significance.
I'm hoping to put together my own preview of this weekend's game later today, so check back later for that.
David Dohrmann, Duke football columnist for Scout.com, graciously agreed to subject himself to five questions with the OGB. David's answers to my most pressing questions:
1. I think it’s safe to say that Duke fans have been reasonably impressed by the Blue Devils' offensive effort the last few weeks, and particularly with the play of Thaddeus Lewis. Is he as talented as his recent performances suggest, or is he just a flash in the pan?
David Dohrmann: Thad Lewis is absolutely the real deal. He was thrown into the fire last season as a true freshman. The Duke coaching staff was hoping to redshirt Lewis in 2006, but with the suspension of then starter Zach Asack and the struggles of former QB turned LB Marcus Jones, Lewis was easily the best option. He definitely had some growing pains last season. He looked great at times (like the Duke-Wake game last season, his first career start) and bad at others (Virginia and Virginia Tech). Still, he ended the season with the 4th most passing yards by a freshman in ACC history. Considering how bad the Duke offensive line performed a season ago, that is quite an accomplishment.
This season, the offense as a whole struggled out of the gate. The offensive line was not giving Lewis any time to throw, hence he was having to throw a lot of balls away and could not get into any sort of rhythm. You have to remember, Duke changed offensive coordinators from last year (actually it’s the 4th year in a row we’ve changed OCs) so there seemed to be an adjustment period getting used to new OC Peter Vaas. Vaas’ last coaching position was leading Brady Quinn to all-American honors at Notre Dame. In game 3 against Northwestern, things just started to click for Lewis. He was making his reads quickly and delivering the ball on target. This has continued for the past 3 ball games. After game two, his QB efficiency rating was 75. It is now 149. He’s been the ACC’s best QB over the last three weeks and given the wide receivers Duke has, there is no reason to think it won’t continue. He is a natural leader and for the first time in 9 years, Duke fans are actually excited when the offense comes on the field. Duke finally has a QB that can play at the high-BCS level. Now if Duke can get the defense to do the same, they are going to really surprise some people.
2. I know Duke fans see the Blue Devils as a team making great improving strides. Nonetheless, these strides are yet to manifest themselves in too many wins. Looking past this year, what kind of time frame would you put on becoming what you would consider to be a respectable team in the ACC?
DD: The pressure is on Ted Roof right now. He was originally given 5 years to turn the program around, but the winless 2006 season might have caused the timetable to accelerate. Duke needs to win more games this year. Despite the 1-4 record, this is definitely possible. Duke could very easily be 3-2 or even 4-1 right now. The Devils let the opener get away from them in the second half, but consider all of the games since. They missed 3 field goals and fumbled the ball away inside the red-zone line in a 12 point loss to Virginia. They beat Nortwestern. They blew a double-digit 4th quarter lead against Navy, which included a fumble inside the Navy 10, a missed FG, and a 80-yard TD called back because of penalty all in the 4th quarter. Last week against Miami, they were on the Miami 35 with 3 minutes remaining down by 3. Duke is right there, now they need to execute in crunch time. In the past few seasons, Duke has been in a few games, but getting their doors blown off the rest of the time. This year, Duke has been in every contest in the second half, even the UConn game. They need to learn to execute in crunch time. There is tangible progress. The Wake Forest game will be a measuring stick for how the program is coming.
3. Turning our focus to this weekend, where do you believe Duke matches up best against the Deacs? Where do you expect to struggle the most?
DD: Wake is going to have a tough time covering the Duke wide receivers. Alphonso Smith is a good player, but Duke’s receivers are big, strong guys that are as good or better than anything Wake has seen this year. Plus, Thad Lewis can really throw the ball. Expect Duke to go after the Wake safeties. Now that Ghee and Gattis are gone, Duke will surely test the new guys.
On defense, the Duke defensive line is quite talented. Wake will find that Duke will be quite tough to block up front. Vince Oghobaase is one of the most talented players in the conference and he’s starting to play like it. DE Pat Bailey is light for a defensive end, but he has great speed on the edge and holds up quite well at the point of attack. CB Leon Wright is developing into a good cover corner that is excellent in run support on the outside.
However, if Duke was great in all phases of the game, they would not be 1-4. Offensively, Duke will need to find a way to block Jeremy Thompson. They have not fared well in pass protection this year. Chris Long (UVA) absolutely destroyed the Duke OL. UConn was also in the backfield all day. I thought they might have had some of their protection issues figured out, but they gave up 9 sacks to Miami in the last game. This is one of the key battles of the game. When Duke is able to give Lewis time, he will pick defenses apart.
Defensively, Duke has defended the run OK this year, but has been eaten alive with the short passing game. Teams are completing 67% of their passes against the Duke defense this year. I think the reasons are part schematic and part personnel. Duke is giving up a high completion percentage, but is not giving up the long ball. Also, the Devils are playing their 3 best linebackers, unfortunately two of them are strictly middle linebackers. The conference’s leading tackler is sophomore Vincent Rey. He’s a 255 hulk in the middle. Of course the name every associates with Duke defense is Mike Tauiliili. He’s a high-energy guy that is small and slow. Both players can be exposed in coverage, which is part of the reason Duke is last in pass efficiency defense.
The biggest difference between the two teams right now is in the kicking game. Wake has Sam Swank a reliable kicker with a great leg. Duke has player X kicking for us this weekend. Our strong legged kicker, Joe Surgan, has the yips and has already missed two extra points this year. Things are so bad, Duke had open tryouts for the kick position last week. Backup punter Nick Maggio is kicking extra points right now, but lack of consistent placekicking has basically taken the field goal out of play. Duke is basically forced to try for touchdowns every time.
4. Clearly Wake needs a win this weekend to get our record back above .500 and make it clear that we aren’t going to let ourselves fall back into the cellar of the ACC. What would a win this weekend mean for Duke?
DD: A win for Duke would mean confidence in themselves and in the staff. The last 4 weeks, Duke has been right in ball games, but only once has been able to come out with a win. They always seem to find new and inventive ways to lose. I firmly believe that Duke’s talent level is overall far ahead of where it has been the last few seasons and is on par with Wake. All the recruiting ranking over the past 4-5 years bear this out. They now need to gain that same confidence that Jim Grobe and his staff has instilled in his players. Wake, however, is strong where it counts (offensive line) and usually out-executes their opponents. Duke is almost the exact opposite. Offensive line might be the biggest weakness and they always seem to make the one killer mistake that lets the opponent wriggle of the hook. That is the biggest difference in the programs at this point.
5. Finally, go ahead and make your prediction now: What will the final score be on Saturday, and what will Duke’s record be at the end of the season?
DD: Unlike the last two games in Durham, Wake will not come in here and roll. The Duke offense is primed for another big day and will score enough points to stay in the game. If your coaches watch game film (and I know they do), they will dink and dunk Duke to death with the short passing game. This game will be close into the 4th quarter, but Duke will make a killer mistake and Wake will take full advantage of it and come away with a 7-point win.
As for the season, Duke will win 2 more games despite the difficult schedule ahead. People thought that Duke’s early season schedule would [allow] the Devils to ease into the meat of the schedule later on. As of right now, Duke’s 4 losses have comes to teams whose combined record is 16-4. So much for the light early season schedule. Still, Duke can score points. That gives them a shot in just about every game.
Huge thanks to David for subjecting himself to these questions and putting some considerable effort into his thorough responses. His columns from The Devils Den can be found here.
The FOX affiliate for Chicago, WQUAD is reporting that rookie safety Josh Gattis is being promoted from the practice squad due to the many injuries in the Bears' secondary.
I know it's been somewhat of a rough road for Josh in the NFL, but it definitely excites me to see him getting an opportunity to get on the field. We can all hope he makes the most of it!
Several news outlets have been sort of previewing this weekend's contest against Duke, but really they seem more interested in reliving our last second victory against Duke last season when Chip Vaughn blocked a chip shot field goal as time expired to preserve the Deacon victory. The Burlington Times and the Sporting News have both published articles discussing the significance of that game.
Here's to hoping we don't require similar heroics this weekend.
DraftExpress.com has recently been publishing their assessment of the top prospects from the ACC. Today's installment is prospects #11-15, which includes our very own Ishmael Smith at #14.
To be honest, I don't know enough about the prospects from other ACC schools to know if this ranking is entirely fair or not, but it doesn't sound unreasonable to me. The article says many positive things about Ish, but concludes that although Ish is a very good player, he will most likely be best served by continuing to improve and coming back for his junior year to become even more prepared for play in the NBA. I don't think Deacon fans would complain.
Could a bye week have come at a better time? With all the upsets on Saturday I'm pretty glad we don't have to play Duke until next week. Considering our track record against them, and how unpredictable yesterday turned out to be, the bye appears to have come at a good time (not to mention the time it gives Riley, etc).
Kudos to South Florida, Colorado, Auburn, Kansas State, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Illinois, and Florida State; all of whom upset teams in the top 25. I don't know the last time that many teams were upset, but I'm guessing it's pretty rare.
Particular congratulations to Maryland and Florida State for representing the conference well against solid opponents from BCS conferences. Maryland's victory has to make you feel even better about last weeks win, and FSU's win makes me even more excited but nervous about their trip to Winston.
I had some other stuff going on this weekend and did not get to catch much on TV besides Auburn upsetting Florida and a little bit of the Falcons/Texans game this afternoon (yuck), but overall it seems to have been a pretty exciting sports weekend. Hopefully the Deacs got well rested and are prepared to take care of business next weekend!
I'm not going to spend any significant time on these, but CSTV posted a couple of articles this weekend about our field hockey and volleyball teams, and Monday's Journal has an article about women's soccer tying Virginia on Sunday.