Ah, Waco. One of our nations most beautiful cities. Home to many important businesses, celebrities of all kinds, and a place where all of your wildest dreams can come true.
On second thought, absolutely none of that is true. However, because it is home to the start of Wake's 2008 football season, come the last week of August no city on earth could get me more excited. There's nothing quite like the beginning of a new football season, and I'm very very excited about the trip I'll be taking to Waco to see this one.
With the game originally schedules for Saturday the 30th, I was hoping we'd be able to get a big crowd of Deacons down there to see the game. With the game being moved to Thursday, August 28 to accommodate FSN's TV schedule, I'm guessing our crowd is going to be a bit less impressive. Nonetheless, the national TV exposure is probably well worth the move and will ultimately be beneficial for Wake.
As for the Bears, I can't imagine we have too much to worry about. Since they've got a new coaching staff coming in it's hard to pinpoint exactly what to expect, but given Baylor's historical lack of talent and the high hopes Wake is riding for this season, I don't foresee an major issues. This is one of those games where the Deacs need to just go in, take care of business, and get out of there without sustaning any injuries.
Some have been talking about Wake's historical issues opening the season in this manner (on TV, on Thursday, etc.) however I don't think we need to put too much stock into these worries. I tend to ignore things like this as I have trouble believing they have any bearing on this particular team. Obviously we need to be wary of overconfidence or anything like that, but ultimately I'm confident the Deacs will take care of business.
Anyone else going to be joining me in Waco? Am I crazy for being so excited? Should I be more worried about some of these potential issues? Let me know.
I think most of us would agree that the schedule for this season works out pretty favorably. Sure, some might argue that having both bye weeks so early in the season isn't so great and that playing seven straight conferences games will be a bit of a grind, but ultimately I think this is a pretty solid schedule.
|Aug. 28, 2008||at Baylor||8:00 pm ET|
|Sept. 6, 2008||Ole Miss||3:30 pm ET|
|Sept. 20, 2008||at Florida State||TBA|
|Sept. 27, 2008||Navy||TBA|
|Oct. 9, 2008||Clemson||TBA|
|Oct. 18, 2008||at Maryland||TBA|
|Oct. 25, 2008||at Miami-FL||TBA|
|Nov. 1, 2008||Duke||TBA|
|Nov. 8, 2008||Virginia||TBA|
|Nov. 15, 2008||at NC State||TBA|
|Nov. 22, 2008||Boston College||TBA|
|Nov. 29, 2008||Vanderbilt||TBA|
Having the bye weeks before what are likely to be the two most difficult games on the schedule should give us a slight advantage in those games. Besides that, we don't get stuck opening the season with a tough conference game like we did with BC last season, and we don't have an overly difficult non-conference game like we did with Nebraska last season.
My plan from here is to go through the whole schedule and talk a bit about each game. These posts won't be overly long, but I'll share my early thoughts on the game and the opponent, and talk about the game's implications for our season. I hope these posts will be a good opportunity for all of you to chime in on the opponents and things such as that. If we get some good discussion going then these posts will be a success. Enjoy.
When you think of Wake's Special Teams unit there really is only one name that comes to mind: Sam Swank.
Despite the fact that his 2007 numbers weren't quite as good as those from 2006, Swank is still one of the best kickers in the nation and certainly the best in the ACC. Despite a couple of key misses last season, there's still no other guy I'd like to have lining it up from 52 yards out with only seconds on the clock. I'd love to see him improve his punting average a bit this season, but ultimately he is still an effective enough punter and an outstanding kicker, so I really can't complain.
As far as returning kicks goes, Alphonso Smith is still expected to be the man. His speed and shiftiness is perfect for the job, but I do worry a little bit about letting him do it all the time just because of the possibility of an injury. I don't know how often returners really do get injured, but it seems like a job that lends itself to that type of thing, and it would not make me very happy to lose such a key element of our defense because of a silly returning injury. I think we'll see Y'lou returning some of the kicks and we may even find that he's the perfect man for the job. If he can do it just as effectively as Phonz can then there's no reason for him not to be doing it.
In the case of most schools the special teams preview would probably be done at this point, but for the 2008 Demon Deacons we can't move on quite so quickly. For the last several years Nick Jarvis has done his job perfectly. Thanks to him Wake fans never even need to think about the Long Snapper. With his graduation the job is no longer so secure.
Coach Grobe and his staff spent much of the spring trying to lock down a snapper and it just never got to the point where anyone really nailed down the job. Fourth string QB Ryan McManus initially seemed to be the man for the job, but in several weeks of work he never looked consistent or comfortable. He may very well end up being the guy for the job but at this point that isn't a sure thing. The problem is that that there doesn't seem to be an easy answer to the question at this point. Russell Nenon should be able to take care of business for FG/XP snapping but the rest of the job is still questionable.
As long as that issue gets taken care of by game time on August 28, I have no reason to be concerned with our special teams unit.
Do you think we should be concerned? Let us know in the comments.
Let's be honest here. The 2008 defense is going to be one of the best defenses Wake Forest has ever put on a football field. When all is said and done I won't be surprised if we can call it the very best.
No opponent is going to be excited about facing this defense. With nine returning starters there is plenty of experience to go around. Matt Robinson is coming back for a 6th year to play defensive end, and 7 other starters are seniors with lots of experience. Everyone knows their roll and based on what they've already accomplished I don't think we need to worry too much about anyone's ability to perform.
Matt Robinson, as already mentioned, will be at one end with senior Anthony Davis at the other. If Robinson can get back to his level of play before the knee injuries, or even close to it, he will be a monster and a huge asset. Junior Boo Robinson is the only returning starter at a very deep tackle position. John Russell is expected to be his partner to start the season, but with so much talent behind them lots of guys will be playing lots of snaps. I expect to see good things from sophomore Michael Carter as well as contributions from Ted Randolph, Michael Lockett, and redshirt freshman Dennis Godfrey. This whole unit is deep and talented and will definitely make things difficult for opposing lines. Word on the street is they've even put on some weight. If it's muscle then that will make things even better.
We couldn't ask for a more experienced or talented unit than the one we have here. Three seniors return as starters - Aaron Curry, Stanley Arnoux, and Chantz McClinic. Curry is undeniably the leader of the front seven. No one on the team has more passion or energy on the field. Even in spring practices he brought the same energy level you'd expect a guy to have for an ACC Championship game. He clearly loves playing football no matter the situaiton. He's exactly the kind of guy you wantto lead your defense.
The guys who back these three up are pretty talented as well. Sophomores Matt Woodlief and Hunter Haynes will have a big impact for a few years to come but are definitely ready to provide major contributions right now.
All of these guys know the system, know their assignments, and are definitely ready to go. They're going to be flying to the ball all season long and I expect it to be fun to watch.
The four starters here are another experienced unit, with three seniors and one junior. This is definitely the flashy side of the defense, with Alphonso Smith's ability to make interceptions (and return them for touchdowns almost half the time he does) and the playmaking abilities of Chip Vaughn and Brandon Ghee.
Depth is a bit more of a concern in this unit than it is in some of the others just becuase there isn't as much experience, but the younger players definitely have talent. Guys like sophomore Alex Frye are probably ready to step up now, but I'm excited to see what even younger guys like Josh Bush and Cyhl Quarles will do in the next couple of seasons.
Almost everything you look at with this unit is postivie. There aren't really any weaknesses to speak of and it's almost hard to come up with something to be worried about. Nonetheless, I feel like I've got to say something and there is one little thing that we should probably keep an eye on. Dean Hood's departure for Western Kentucky is the first big coaching loss Wake has sustained in awhile. Brad Lambert should fill in just fine, but nonetheless it's a pretty big change that will take some getting used to. I really don't anticipate any problems, but it was worth mentioning.
That's it from me, so now it's up to you. What do you think about this defensive unit? Who are you most excited to see this season? Any major concerns I forgot to mention? Let me know.
Change of plans. In the last 24 hours I've been informed by my boss that he lost several leaders for his high school mission trip and needs me to come. I'm getting on a bus this morning and headed to New Orleans until the night of the 30th. I also have a quick middle school trip the 1st through 3rd of July.
It will definitely be an awesome trip, but it's going to make it more difficult to get parts of the preview up every day as I had originally planned on doing. I'm going to do my best but we'll just have to see how it works out. I love getting new content up every day for you guys but you'll have to bear with me if it doesn't quite work out that way. I'll do my best, and I would expect to see a post previewing the defense up on Monday.
Prayers for the high schoolers I'll now be with and the middle schoolers I'm leaving behind are much appreciated!
This is the 2nd post in a series spanning the next few weeks previewing the 2008 football season. For the introduction to this series see this post, and please feel free to contribute your own thoughts and comments about the topic at hand.
Today begins the first in a many part series previewing the 2008 football season. As a laid out yesterday in this post, we'll spend the next few weeks examining the team the Deacs will put on the field this season and the opponents they will face.
I'm back home in Houston having completed our mission trip to Tecate. It was a successful trip and we did a lot of good work in a local neighborhood. We added a room to a house for a young mother and her children, as well as rebuilding two playgrounds and a soccer/basketball court for local kids. The middle schoolers we brought with us had a great time, worked hard, learned a lot, and we got home without any injuries or other problems. Thanks to all of you who were praying for us while we were gone.
I've done my best to catch up today on everything that's been going on Wake-athletics wise and I'm pretty sure there hasn't been much. What I would like to do over the next couple of weeks is preview the football season ahead of us. I've been saying I wanted to do this for awhile but haven't really made it happen, so I'm going to lay out a bit of a schedule so that we can get this done.
What I don't want is for this to be just me spouting off some thoughts and that being that. I'd love for it to become somewhat of a conversation with input from all of you in the comments section and a discussion of some kind.
The way I'd like to do this is to start by taking three days to talk offense/defense/special teams, then 12 days going through the schedule and talking about each game. I'll offer my thoughts and then solicit yours. I'm not going to promise that this will happen in 15 consecutive days due to the variability of my schedule right now, but we'll try to get through it in a reasonable period of time. If we want to spend some time talking about the rest of the ACC at some point then we can do that too. We can play it by ear.
Hopefully you all like this idea and will participate, because this will be much more interesting and insightful if there is lots of participation. If you have any ideas or recommendations to improve the plan, let me know.
I expect to be back tomorrow with our first installment looking at the offense. See you then.
Later this morning I'm leaving with 55 middle schoolers for Tecate, Mexico. We'll be down there on a mission trip serving the community in various ways and I'm confident it will be an awesome experience. Any prayers for our trip would be much appreciated!
I will not have any kind of internet access, however, so things will be dormant here until the 17th. Hopefully no big Wake-related news will occur and I'll pick things back up when I return. Until then be safe and enjoy the summer.
With the 23rd pick of the first round of today's Major League Baseball draft the San Diego Padres drafted Wake Forest 1st (and sometimes 3rd) baseman Allan Dykstra. Dykstra has been the star of Demon Deacon baseball for the last several seasons and should have a great career ahead of him as a pro. I'm sure he's excited about having been drafted by the Padres because he grew up rooting for them.