It has to be said. Clemson's 34-10 loss to Alabama was pitiful, and absolutely the worst thing that could have happened to the ACC this weekend. Virginia Tech losing to ECU was bad enough, but adding Clemson on top is only worse.
UNC struggled against McNeese State, only winning 35-27, and Maryland didn't look very good in their 14-7 win over Deleware.
Of the ACC teams that played this week, only Wake Forest, Miami, and Georgia Tech really did what they were supposed to do, although I suppose Boston College and Duke got the job done as well. Florida State didn't play, but I'm worried about them, too.
It was pretty much the worst possible weekend for the ACC, and that's dissapointing to me. Since January I've been arguing for the ACC and they laid an egg. Wake may be the class of the conference, but as far as the rest of the nation is concerned, the conference still sucks. The only possible redemption now will be an ACC victory in a BCS game (and it better be against another BCS conference champion or very good at-large team).
Riley Skinner got a helmet sticker from HD. It was certainly deserved.
I'm working through the Baylor tape right now and hope to provide some interesting analysis from it. If you missed yesterday's post about live blogging, check it out here.
It has to be said. Clemson's 34-10 loss to Alabama was pitiful, and absolutely the worst thing that could have happened to the ACC this weekend. Virginia Tech losing to ECU was bad enough, but adding Clemson on top is only worse.
I know some people have a hard time doing it, but when it comes to non-conference games, I always root for the ACC team. For me, it was not any fun to just see Virginia Tech lose to East Carolina. That does nothing good for the ACC or for Wake Forest.
ECU definitely looked like the better team today - they would have won handily were it not for "beamerball" special teams work by VT earlier in the game. Anyway, I'm not very happy about this one.
As for the rest, App State didn't have what it took to repeat last year's performance against Michigan against LSU this morning, but that wasn't particularly surprising.
Also in the top 25, Pitt looks set to lose to Bowling Green.
I'm getting set to watch Virignia play USC this afternoon, which isn't likely to be an ACC victory but should be fun to watch nonetheless. I'll have another update later in the day.
If you missed it, check out my previous post updating you all on the future of live blogs.
On Thursday I let you know there wasn't going to a be a live blog, and promised an explanation would come later, so here is that explanation.
Old Gold & Blog all of a sudden finds itself in a bit of a transitional period, and I’m going to use this post to explain to all of you what is happening. In the following paragraphs I’ll lay out a variety of information, but ultimately what they’re all going to add up to is this: Media relations has tightened their policies and Old Gold & Blog won’t be getting the same kind of access it has enjoyed for the last year. Live blogs, in particular, won’t be happening the same way.
To understand where we are, I need to explain where we’ve come from: I first began publishing Old Gold & Blog in late September 2007, explaining in my first post that I wanted to fill a void. I had a vision for what I thought the site could become, but I knew that the site was just as likely (if not more so) to fail completely as it was to meet that potential. Things were probably pretty touch and go those first couple months, but I stuck with it, my writing started to improve, and the site developed a small but strong base of readers.
At the beginning of the 2007-2008 basketball season, with the encouragement of a friend, I approached the athletic department about getting media credentials for basketball games. Wake’s athletic department hadn’t ever been presented with such a request, and was willing to test it out with me. Things went well and I received credentials to every game I requested them for throughout the season. I posted updates and analysis (a “live blog” if you will) at every media timeout (sometimes more often towards the end of halves), and interviewed coaches and players after the games for my post game stories. Readers seemed to enjoy the content the access provided.
There are lots of college fan blogs being published around the country, but very few of those do so with any kind of official access, they’re just fans posting from their living rooms. There are also a decent number of truly “professional” journalists working for local newspapers or national outlets whose job it is to attend games with press credentials and publish blogs (Dan Steinberg for the Washington Post and Heather Dinich for ESPN.com are good examples). I was in the unique position of having the access of a professional journalist while maintaining the independent status of your average fan blogger.
Back in the spring everything seemed to be going well. The media credentials allowed me to live blog from games and interview coaches and players afterwards for my post-game stories. The number of readers continued to grow and I was proud of what the site had become.
When spring football rolled around, I decided to head out to practice and tell people what I was seeing. I was amazed by the positive response from those posts, because I had not realized how starved for information fans were when it came to things like spring practices. The fact is, at a school like Wake Forest, there just isn’t a whole lot of coverage from traditional forms of media, and a site such as Old Gold & Blog seemed to step in nicely to fill that void. It seemed like a beneficial relationship for everyone; Wake Forest was getting more “media” coverage, and I had the fun, enjoyment, and a small stream of revenue from running the site.
I thought all of this was setting up for a pretty outstanding 2008-2009 athletic year, including continued access to football and basketball games (and really any other sport I wanted to cover, like soccer). I had some new software I wanted to use for the live blogs that were going to make them interactive and a lot of fun, and after a successful soccer experiment I couldn’t wait to try them out for football.
Media relations had different plans, however. They have tightened their credentialing guidelines to only include established media outlets, meaning that an independent website like mine is no longer allowed press box access to blog. Unless Old Gold & Blog were to become an established media outlet, or join an existing media outlet, there aren’t going to be any more credentials. Even if one of those things were to happen, there would likely be restrictions placed on live blogging.
I’ve loved doing live blogs from games. They’re fun and I know that readers enjoy them. This does not prevent me from sitting on the couch and live blogging, but it does keep me from doing it with a credential at a game. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. As much as I love live blogging for you (particularly with the new format that allows for so much more interaction between all of us), I’m not going to sit on my couch in the dorm to live blog when the actual game is happening in the stadium five minutes away – I just can’t miss out on that fun and I think you’ll understand. For road games I often will live blog from the couch, but just not for home games. I will, of course, continue to provide my post-game thoughts and analysis the same as always, except that it won’t contain any quotes from coaches or players since I won’t be in the locker room to get them.
Like I said, as much as I love live blogging, I’m going to go to the home games I can make it to, not sit on the couch and blog. I know, however, that there are many of you who aren’t able to make it to games and are doing exactly that – sitting on the couch at home. Many of you would probably even enjoy looking at and participating in a live blog while you watched. So here’s what I want to do: I want you to run the live blog yourself. It’s not overly difficult to do (I’ll teach you) and it’s a lot of fun. If you’re interested in giving this a try, send me an email and let me know. We can work on a schedule for the rest of the season, but for now all I need is a volunteer who knows he/she will be able to watch next Saturday’s Ole’ Miss game on TV in its entirety, will have a computer with internet access, and is willing and able to run the live blog. If this sounds like you, let me know and we’ll see what we can work out.
I don’t know how big of a change this will really end up being to the site, but there isn’t anything that can be done about it, so (to use the cliché) we’re going to make lemonade out of lemons.
I apologize for the length of this post, but I didn’t think it would really make sense without giving a larger picture for what that has happened. I’m curious to see what you all think about the whole situation, so let me know by leaving a comment.
One of the best things about having Wake open on Thursday night is that I don't have to spend today worrying about the Deacs, instead I just get to enjoy all the other great football on TV. It's a really nice feeling, particularly this first week of the season when I just want to see as much football as possible.
A cursory scan of various sources didn't reveal any new news items on the Deacs this morning, so there won't be any of that, but I may check in with some notes from other ACC games throughout the day, and I will also take a much more in-depth look at the Baylor game either today or tomorrow. I also have an explanation coming soon for some of the semi-cryptic messages I shared Thursday about live blogging and things like that.
All that to say, check back throughout the day if you get the chance, but more than anything, enjoy some football!
I know it is much easier for me to wake up early and travel this morning after a win than it would have been after a loss. Still, time is short, so I'm quickly going to dump a few links and get out.
Since you may not have had a chance to see it, here's my initial post-game offering. More is likely throughout the weekend.
Dan Collins, Associated Press, Dallas paper, photos from Waco-trib, and I can't get to their article without registering but I know its there. I gotta run for the airport, so those of you who find other links can leave them in the comments and I may be back with more this afternoon.
For a season opener, Thursday night’s 41-13 victory over the Baylor Bears leaves little to complain about. No matter who the opponent is, a convincing road win to open the season can’t do anything but help a team.
It wasn’t a perfect showing, but it was pretty dang good. Riley Skinner had an excellent start, completing 27 of 36 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. He found D.J. Boldin more than anyone else – seven times for 33 yards, but had the most success throwing to Ben Wooster (six catches, 90 yards, one touchdown) and Chip Brinkman (three catches, 29 yards, two touchdowns).
The rushing game struggled, although the final total of 165 yards wouldn’t show it. Were it not for C.J. Washington’s two carries for 63 yards on the final drive of the game, that number wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive. Josh Adams carried the ball 14 times for 37 yards and a touchdown, and Brandon Pendergrass’s 14 rushes only went for 34 yards and a touchdown. Neither had a run longer than 10 yards, and averaged 2.6 and 2.4 yards respectively.
Sam Swank looked very solid, making field goals of 40 and 42 yards, all five extra points, and causing three touchbacks on eight kickoffs. His punting was pretty solid, too, averaging 39 yards and putting three of four punts inside the 20, once all the way down to the four.
It was great to see Skinner avoid throwing any interceptions, however four fumbles (two were lost) aren’t going to cut it in the future against stronger opponents.
Defensively, Aaron Curry led the way, making seven tackles and half a sack. He made some great hits and just looks like a leader on the field. Hunter Haynes, Chantz McClinic, and Boo Robinson all recovered fumbles, and Alphonso Smith and Alex Frye had their first interceptions of the season.
Baylor’s offense could never get much going. They were held to 94 rushing yards and 156 passing yards. Freshman quarterback Robert Griffin showed some promise for Baylor, but with Art Briles’ new offensive scheme and his lack of experience he just wasn’t able to get anything going.
Obviously there’s a lot more to a football game than statistics and numbers, so let’s take a look at the questions I asked in Wednesday’s preview:
Will we see a noticeably different defensive scheme this year?
I’m going to have to review the film to give a good answer to this question, but my quick answer is that it’s not all that different, just better. I didn’t see anything in the actual scheme that stuck out to me as “different,” but I did see some very effective play from the defensive line, linebackers, and secondary – in other words, everyone. We all know this, but I’m going to say it anyway: Alphonso Smith’s technique is flawless. His defense on the pass to the corner of the endzone was absolutely perfect, and that wasn’t the only example. His heads-up interception was great as well. Still, I’m not convinced the defensive scheme is any different.
How will Steed Lobotzke balance the pass and run?
This one went almost exactly how I expected. I’d have to go back and look at some numbers from last season to see how different the pass/run numbers actually were (given the fact that the offense ran the ball a lot in the fourth quarter to kill the clock there may not actually be a statistical difference), but it was clear that this offense is going to rely on the passing game. Riley Skinner is definitely up to the challenge, and although they weren’t particularly consistent, the receivers showed a lot of promise. D. J. Boldin looked great, but had a case of the drops, particularly on plays that required him to jump to catch the ball – he just couldn’t hang on when he hit the ground. Chip Brinkman wasn’t flashy, but he was definitely effective when it mattered. Ben Wooster is definitely a go-to target for Skinner and does a good job getting yards after the catch. If it weren’t for a few very unnecessary drops and the fumble by Marshall Williams this group would have been nearly perfect.
In pass protection the offensive line did a very good job. They only allowed one sack and I was pretty impressed. When it came to opening up holes for the running backs, however, things started to break down. There just wasn’t a significant enough push to really get anything going. If they’re having those kinds of problems with Baylor’s defensive line I don’t want to imagine the problems they could have with teams like Clemson. Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass have the ability to do some really good things this season, but I think they’re going to need some more help to really have outstanding seasons. Even though it was with and against the second string, C.J. Washington was probably the most impressive running back on the field in his two carries. It will be interesting to see if that performance leads to any first team carries next weekend. He definitely made the most of the opportunity.
All of that is a very long answer to the question, but I think the takeaway is that the offense should and will rely heavily on the passing game this season, and the talent is there to make that strategy work.
How many true freshmen will actually play?
This one’s easy. Two.
Joe Looney and Andrew Parker both got playing time early and fairly often. I’ll pay closer attention to them when I’m able to go back to the film, but neither did anything to really stand out positively or negatively. As expected, Kenny Okoro and Chance Raines did not play.
Is it safe to let Alphonso Smith return kicks?
For tonight, yes. I’m still not entirely convinced, but I’m becoming more and more agreeable to this idea, particularly because I understand that you can’t not do things that will help the team just because you’re scared of an injury. As I expected, Alphonso Smith was effective, and nearly looked like he would break a big one in the second half. I’m sure he will sooner rather than later.
Reflections on my prediction:
I predicted a 30-10 victory, and I was happy to see the offense greatly exceed my expectations. I had predicted a defensive/special teams touchdown (which didn’t happen) so the offense actually scored 18 more points than an I predicted. The defense did about what I expected, and I have no complaints there, although I’m sure the defense was glad they didn’t have to face Robert Griffin later in the season when he had a few more games of experience under his belt. If Wake continues to exceed my expectations like this throughout the season, they’ll have a pretty incredible year.
I know that's a lot from me, but what are your thoughts on the game right now? How does this one make you feel as we look towards the rest of the season?
I'm leaving Houston momentarily for Waco and am looking forward to the game. Unfortunately, though, a live blog is going to be impossible tonight due to Big XII rules and my roll helping the Old Gold & Black cover the game. Such is life for someone in my position right now. We can maybe talk more about this over the weekend, but I'll leave it at that for now.
As I said earlier, though, Scott Wortman's live blog will probably be pretty good (I guess you get permission for such things as the opposing athletic department), even though it won't be interactive. Anyway, enjoy the game and I expect to be back afterwards with a happy report on the game.
For a few afternoon links, check out this from Heather Dinich and for you gamblers, Scott from Las Vegas checks in with this.
The day we've all been waiting for is finally here. In just over 12 hours Wake Forest will be kicking of the 2008 football season and I couldn't be happpier.
Gameday means previews and other fun things like that, but something more interesting than any preview is (in my opinion) this inside look at the life of the team in the 36 hours leading up to a game. Scott Wortman with Wake's media relations department is doing a great job with it.
On to the previews...Associated Press previews from the Baylor side, the Wake side, and a little extra on the coaches.
Locally, North Carolina media say the defense is the key, Wake has less knotheads, and the players aren't letting the rankings get to their heads.
Down in Texas, debuts don't often work out for new Baylor coaches, and an interactive preview looks nice. I'm guessing it's not worth it to register to read more from the Waco-trib, but if you're desperate here's their Baylor page.
A reader, Allan from South Carolina, reminded me to mention Matt Gfeller, the R.J. Reynolds high school player who died in a freak football accident last Friday. It's a very sad thing to have happen, and my thoughts and prayers have been and continue to go out to the Gfeller family. Here's a story on Matt, and I've heard Reynolds is planning to go ahead and play Friday night and would like to pack the stands in Matt's honor. If you're not otherwise occupied Friday night and are in the Winston-Salem area it would be great for you to head out.
Back to happier things...here's a video preview predicting a Wake Forest victory tonight.
The time has finally come for Wake Forest to kick off its 107th season of football, and it’s a good thing because I don’t think I can wait much longer.
Date: Thursday, August 28, 2008
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT, 7:00 p.m. CDT
Location: Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco, Texas
TV/Radio: FSN, ISP Radio Network. More details here
The Demon Deacons are 0-4 all time against Baylor, having lost 31-0 in their last meeting – a 1961 matchup in Waco. Another historical record that doesn’t bode well for the Deacs is their 0-11 record all time in games played in the state of Texas. I don’t put a lot of stock in things like that, particularly when much of the data is over 50 years old, but it’s always interesting to see.
As most everyone probably knows by now, Baylor enters the 2008 season with a new coach, Art Briles. Briles is apparently some sort of offensive guru, and based on what he did at Houston, the Wake defense is about to see a pretty interesting and somewhat unique offensive scheme. As far as I can tell, Briles doesn’t really call a single play, rather he gives the offense options, and they have to all read the defense to determine which option is the best (If I got that all wrong you can let me know, Baylor fans).
Though that may sound daunting for some visiting defenses, it sounds like the type of scheme that takes a considerable amount of time to implement effectively. I think it will be at least three weeks before the Baylor offense really has the chance to start clicking. Given the experience and talent Wake will have on the defensive side of the ball, I wouldn’t want to be a young Baylor quarterback trying to figure out which play is most likely to work – the results could be disastrous.
Add to all of this the fact that no one outside of the team knows who the starting quarterback is going to be (heck, I’m not even sure the team knows who its quarterback is), and you’ve got the recipe for a shaky offensive night for the Bears.
Wake’s offense isn’t without its fair share of question marks. Is the offensive line ready to step up in a real game situation? Will the receivers continue to impress like they have for the last month of practices? I don’t expect to see the Deacon offense put a huge number on the scoreboard this week, but it should be enough to get the job done.
I’ve got some other questions going into this matchup as well:
Will we see a noticeably different defensive scheme this year?
The last two seasons under Dean Hood Wake has played conservatively on defense, utilizing a “bend but don’t break” attitude that puts an emphasis on avoiding big plays. That doesn’t mean they didn’t try to make plays on the ball (obviously they did), but it wasn’t a very aggressive scheme. Under Brad Lambert I think we may see a slightly more aggressive defense; one that brings more pressure and allows the guys to react instinctively as the play develops.
How will Steed Lobotzke balance the pass and run?
I don’t know the actual statistics, but for the last couple of years Lobo has run a fairly conservative package that focuses on possessing the ball and maximizing field possession by using lots of rushes and short, accurate passes. With the questions at offensive line, the preseason success of the wide receivers, and the continued improvement of quarterback Riley Skinner, I think we may see a heavier emphasis on the pass game. Particularly if the Deacs struggle to move the ball on the ground early, Lobo might try letting Skinner air it out a little bit.
How many true freshmen will actually play?
The season’s first depth chart, which includes four true freshmen, reveals some interesting things. For one (and Grobe made this clear yesterday), OG Joe Looney and TE Andrew Parker will not be redshirting. Furthermore, center Chance Raines and CB Kenny Okoro will be traveling with the team, but Grobe may try to keep them off the field and redshirt them if possible. Redshirt freshman Dennis Godfry, who moved to the offensive line less than a week ago, is already number two on the depth chart at right guard – not a good indication for the line’s depth.
Is it safe to let Alphonso Smith return kicks?
The depth chart lists Phonz as the starter for both kick return and punt return. While he’s definitely a playmaker and I understand the desire to give him touches, the increased potential for injury worries me. I think this is one of those decisions that will turn out to be incredibly smart or will be looked back on as the downfall of the 2008 campaign. Either Phonz will dazzle in the return game, or he’ll go down with an injury – a major blow to the team. I don’t think there’s an in-between; if he stays healthy I can’t imagine him not doing some pretty special things. I guess that kind of upside is worth risking the potential injury, so I guess I’m going to have to trust the coaches on this one.
Do you have different answers to one or more of these questions? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.
Final Prediction: Wake’s offense struggles early and only manages a couple of field goals in the first half, but a touchdown on defense or special teams sends Wake to the locker room with a 13-3 lead. The offense gets its act together in the second half and the Demon Deacons leave Waco with a 30-10 victory and a respectable start to the 2008 campaign.
Yesterday afternoon the conference released the 2008-2009 ACC basketball schedules, meaning we can finally see the entire schedule, including dates and most times. It's great to be more prominently featured in the national spotlight this season, including nine ABC/ESPN networks games and four FSN games.
I don't think there's any real complaining to do about the schedule. The home game against UNC falls the day after students return to campus for the spring semester (January 11). There's only one really difficult turnaround, when Wake plays at Boston College on Wednesday, January 14 and then at Clemson Saturday, January 17. We can all hope no one is at the Joel for the game on Saturday, December 6 against Bucknell. I'd much rather us all be in Tampa for the ACC Championship game that day.
Assuming ACC Select picks up the games that don't have TV coverage I think Wake fans will be able to see all the Demon Deacons they can handle. I'm sure we'll analyze this schedule more as the season approaches, but we'll leave it at that for now.
Elsewhere in the news, Dan Collins previews the Baylor game. Mine will be up later today.
Did this story really get published? I'm sorry, but the fact that someone in Corpus Christi thought that would pass for a legitimate story is rediculous. I realize it's Associate Press copy, but as you can see from SportingNews, there's a lot more to the story that was cut out.
Yesterday I received an email from Brian, a reader, pointing me towards some 2008 bowl projections by WhatIfSports. The projections have Wake playing Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, and Clemson playing in the Orange bowl. The only way this scenario could possibly play out would be for Clemson to go undefeated and Wake to only lose to Clemson. Even so, I have trouble imaginining an undefeated Clemson not being good enough to play for the national championship. Lots of interesting factors here, I had fun spending a few minutes analyzing the thing.
Brian sets a good example...if you ever see something around the interent you think belongs here on Old Gold & Blog send me an email and let me know.
One of Old Gold & Blog's most popular features from the 2007 football season is back for 2008 - 5 Good Questions. I'm excited we're getting to do this again since it means a football game is so close.
For those who don't know, 5 Good Questions is a weekly feature during football season where I ask five questions of someone who publishes a blog about Wake's opponent that week.
Unfortunately, no one is publishing an independent blog about Baylor, so I had to go to plan "B". I ventured over to BaylorFans.com and convinced one of its more prominent posters, Chaise Moody, to join me. He did an excellent job, and his answers to my questions follow a brief introduction from Chaise.
Chaise Moody: Hi and thanks for letting a Baylor Fan participate in your weekly Q&A.1. Art Briles hasn't even coached a game at Baylor yet, but the fans seem to be pretty high on him. How has he changed this program already, and what do you expect from him long term?
We look forward to personally welcoming all Deacon fans to Waco, though we realize fuel costs and distance may make it difficult for all to be here that would like to come. Congratulations to Wake Forest on your past seasons' success and best wishes to the Deacons this season (except this Thursday evening, of course).
CM: Baylor Fans have been long-suffering in our pursuit of Ws in Big XII play. With conference foes such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska (or yeah, Kansas & Mizzou), many perceive Baylor as a 'have not' program, but that is not true. We have the resources to compete at the highest level.2. Usually it's important for teams to have a quarterback. Which is going to be, Robert Griffin, Blake Szymanski, or Kirby Freeman? Why?
You may be surprised to learn that only one Big XII school has won more conference championships in all sports than Baylor. We just suck at football and that is because we have been challenged in the 'hiring competent football coaches' department. Times have changed.
Thee University (as we irreverently call ourselves) is building a $34 million dollar indoor-outdoor football complex on campus next to the Brazos River. You realize that our stadium – Floyd Casey Stadium - is in Beverly Hills, a mile+ from campus, don't you? For those wanting to map the location: http://baylorbears.cstv.com/school-b...y-stadium.html
The stadium seats 50,000, though the south end zone is covered by a large "This Is Bear Country" tarp that comes off for really big games and capacity can be increased –SRO (Standing Room Only). We average about 38,000 attendance typically. More than half of Baylor's student body of 14,000 will show up and the crazy gold-shirted group right behind your bench is "The Baylor Line". This spirit group used to be made up of freshman men and it got so unruly on visitors that the administration inserted females into the group and voila', instant date bait behaving. You'll find Floyd Casey Stadium to be one of the neatest in the Big XII.
To answer the first question about Baylor's new coach, one has to be familiar with the State's major religion - football. As they say, we don't live in the state of Texas, we live in the State of Football.
Art Briles is 52 yrs old and already a legend for winning in this State. He has taken down-trodden programs time and again and made them winners. He started coaching in 1979 and has been a coach in this State ever since.
His last job was head coach of the University of Houston, where he took a program that had been a perennial bottom dweller (ahem) and made them winners Year 1. Let's just say we're confident he will get it done in Waco, too. Art's bio: http://baylorbears.cstv.com/sports/m...les_art00.html
CM: Great question, and I agree. Who really knows who will start at QB for Baylor? Coach Briles has been known to wait until the last minute to name a starter – and he is not afraid to choose the true freshman. He brought Kirby Freeman home from The University of Miami (which Kirby says was a complete disaster) for his 5th year and many thought when that occurred that Coach planned to start Kirby who would "mentor" the child protégé – Robert Griffin. However, I believe we will see Blake Szymanski as the most likely to start. As an aside, Blake has a hot girlfriend and she has one of those annoying little pamaranians that often gets photographed sitting on Blake's lap – yeah, it appears that Blake is whipped. Some have suggested the dog gets more face time than Coach Briles.3. What area is Baylor's biggest strength? Biggest weakness?
Why Blake? If you read all the Fan websites, there are many reasons. Experience is probably the bottom line. In any event, without much hesitation, Coach will change QBs if we turn the ball over or fail to score in the redzone or cannot sustain drives – anything that shows lack of leadership to victory. We may change QBs even if the starter does produce, who can say?
CM: Baylor's greatest strength may well be our LB corps, much like WF(?) We have a number of big, fast, strong, instinctive, ugly LBs who like to hit. Greatest weakness is our lack of depth perhaps, but also our lack of success - our lack of knowing how to finish the job. We had OU, Nebraska and A&M on the ropes 2 seasons ago, but our lack of maturity permitted us to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It was painful to witness. Injury played a role in prior years' losses, also.4. What will be the key to a Baylor victory against Wake?
CM: The key to victory against WF is simple: "2 –we're in, 3 -we win". I'll explain if need be after the game, hopefully I'm in a jovial mood. (Ed. note - I have no idea what this is, so I'm looking forward to the explanation)5. The fun part...what is your prediction for the final score on Thursday night? What will Baylor's record be at the end of the season?
CM: Final score? Come on, you don't expect me to bite on this one, do you? Sure this is all for kicks and giggles, but no way. I will say that I hope both teams play to their full potential, there are no injuries, and Baylor wins. Ha!Excellent work, Chaise. Thanks for joining us.
Baylor's end of year record? 6 wins minimum, baby! See how reasonable and rational we are down here in Bear Country?
Looking forward to seeing y'all who are able to make the trip. Oh, and we don't really allow public drinking in/near the stadium but you can drink so long as you don't show the beer or stumble around. We try to maintain that Baptist image over here, you know. I admit I have not been to an ACC game so I am unfamiliar with your gameday – pregame, but you'll find Baylor's pregame to be quite entertaining. People watching is fun, too.
There are tons of friendly folks and beautiful people here so come on down!
ACC Nation released its preseason ACC power poll yesterday, and Wake comes in at number two behind Clemson. Seems about right at this point, nice to see the Deacs come in in front of Virginia Tech (not that they shouldn't be, just good to see it recognized.)
5 Good questions makes its return later this morning. It was one of last season's most popular weekly features, and I promise the first installment is pretty good.
Today ESPN.com's Heather Dinnich ranked the 12 ACC football schedules for 2008, and had this to say about Wake Forest:
10. Wake Forest -- If these guys can get through the first half of their schedule, look out. Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Georgia Tech are off the schedule. A road trip to Baylor, followed by a home game against Ole Miss and a trip to FSU make for a tough start to the season.At first glance I thought this was way too low, but the more I think about it I realize it's probably only a little bit too low.
I've put a fair amount of stock into the fact that Wake is the only ACC team without any FCS schools on the schedule, which led me to believe Wake has one of the tougher scheuldes in the ACC. Further analysis proves that's not quite the case.
Georgia Tech has Georgia on the schedule, as well as trips to Clemson and Virginia Tech. Virginia has Southern Cal and UConn. Miami has Florida and Texas A&M. I don't envy any of those schedules.
Still, the fact remains that Wake doesn't have a single FCS opponent. Sure, Clemson has to come to Winston-Salem on a Thursday night, but Florida State on the road is no picnic, and neither are back-to-back road games with Maryland and Miami.
Based on HD's rundown, I'd say Wake definitely has a more difficult scheudule than Clemson and Duke (the two schools immedietly above Wake in the list). But, when compared to the rest of the ACC I realize Wake is probably in better shape schedule-wise than I first thought. Now it's up to the Deacs to take advantage.
In another indication of Wake Forest football's arrival on the national scene, Kansas is looking towards Wake as an example of how to build a successful program and keep a coach.
I'll be honest, the feature stories that talk about the personal lives of players aren't always my favorite, but I did enjoy this one about Chip Vaughn and his family.
Here's an audio interview of Chris Paul after he won his gold medal yesterday. (The audio may only work in Internet Explorer, I had trouble with it in Firefox)
Yesterday the athletic department officially announced "Game Night" at BB&T Field on Thursday. Sounds like a fun event and a great opportunity to tour the Tower.
If there's anything guys in the prized 18-35 year old demographic love, it's video games. And when it comes to college sports fans, nothing tops the annual NCAA Football game published by EA Sports. July marked the release of NCAA Football 2009, and once again guys everywhere are building their favorite schools into football dynasties.
Real football players might be busy, but that doesn't mean they don't have some time to enjoy playing as their digital doppelgängers. Sometimes, though, the game doesn't quite get it right. Here's my conversation with Riley Skinner on the topic:
Zach Smith: Have you guys been playing any NCAA Football 2009?
Riley Skinner: (Laughs) Yea we’ve got it at our house and we play, we do.ZS: And what do you think of the Deacs?
RS: We’re not too happy about that. We saw that we’re ranked 23rd in the game (Ed. note - it's actually 25th) and I think our ratings are the same as Duke. I think all of our number ratings are the same as Duke, so we’re not too sure how that works out - that you’re ranked 23rd and you have the same ratings as Duke. But we “up” ourselves a little bit on the game (more laughs). Just trying to make it, as we see, more realistic (and of course, more laughs).Skinner may be pretty impressive on the real football field, but I bet I could take him on the digital gridiron - assuming he couldn't play with his artificially inflated self.
I was able to talk to both Jim Grobe and Riley Skinner about the preparations the team is beginning to make for the Baylor game. For Jim Grobe, the transition is not particularly easy:
Zach Smith: How does your thinking and planning have to change now that you're working specifically towards Baylor?
Jim Grobe: Well it's game plan stuff. It's a tough change, actually. We've really for the majority of the summer been going against each other, so it's been Wake Forest against Wake Forest, so we've been seeing a lot of things we do offensively, they've been seeing about all our defensive package, and it's really been hard because it's hard to focus on any one thing.ZS: Having Art Briles as a new coach there, what do you look at to figure out what it is you need to be preparing for, since you haven't seen him there before?
Now we've got to completely shift gears. In just about a week's time we've got to get ready for Baylor's schemes offensively and defensively. So it's a tough turn around and that's the deal. We've got to really kinda try to completely forget what we've seen for two weeks and start focusing just on Baylor.
JG: You try to look at the things that he did in Houston and that the staff did, but that's a problem for us because he didn't bring all of his staff with him. I think he only brought a couple guys with him from Houston. His defensive coordinator stayed. So you just try to look at some of the things they did at other schools, where some of the other coaches came from.ZS: Does the fact that it's a Thursday night game play into that at all? Does it make it more difficult? Less difficult?
You try to get little bits and pieces as you can of things that they did at their other schools, but the problem is they're going to get to Baylor and have a completely different group of athletes and you have to assume they're thoughts will change a little bit, so we've got to go to Baylor and basically figure them out when they start the game. You know, it's not a good feeling for coaches.
Starting on the road is always tough. All your mistakes are magnified; every turnover that you have, every bad kicking game play, every big play that the opponent has, the home crowd is into it and it makes it tough especially on young players. Then you throw in the fact that we're not really sure what they're going to do it makes it a really tough opener, in addition to having really good players with a really good coaching staff.
JG: It probably turned out to be a little bit better for us only from the standpoint that we've got plenty of time to get ready for the first game and then a little more time with the long flight back to get ready for Ole Miss. So I'd say playing Thursday, playing Saturday, probably doesn't matter as far as playing Baylor, but having a couple extra days to recover from a long trip will give us a chance to kind of catch our breath before we start getting ready for Ole Miss.ZS: With school starting next week, how does that affect the players and their schedules and how they manage football and school and all that stuff? (Ed. note: terribly worded question)
JG: It will probably affect the young guys a little bit. The young guys are a little more flighty. They get all the new students back on campus and they go just a little bit crazy. The older guys have been around the block a couple times. I wouldn't think it would affect our older guys much at all.For Riley Skinner, the transition comes as a welcome change:
It's a little bit of a transition only because with practice and lifting and meetings and those type things, we've been doing that without anything going on for a few days now, and we'll go back after classes start and do practice and be lifting in the afternoons, so it's a change. But because we're primarily relying on older players I think it's a little bit easier.
ZS: Now that you guys are starting to prepare for Baylor, how does your mindset and your preparation have to change? What are you doing differently now?
Riley Skinner: You know, it’s a lot more fun. We’re not going against our same team every day any more. We’re still practicing against them but we’re going against Baylor defense. We do a lot more scout team now with the other guys. Now in the quarterback room we’re game planning, seeing how our routes are going to work against Baylor, not compared to earlier this summer we’re scheming against how we can beat our defense.ZS: Do you think the last few weeks have prepared you well enough to be doing all that this week?
So we’ve made a bunch of changes. We’ve dropped plays, we’ve added plays, and I think we have a pretty good package going in for them right now.
RS: Oh yea, definitely. We feel really good right now where we’re at. We’re getting all our guys back health-wise that have been banged up a little bit. Everyone’s understanding the offense really well. I think we had a really good preseason with just the player-oriented workouts. We made sure we got our offense down, got everybody on the same page, and that’s helped us a bunch because everyone’s kind of firing on all cylinders right now.Looks like it's not just the fans who are ready for some football. I don't think anyone in the Wake Forest community can wait for Thursday night.
In what turned out to be a very exciting game, the USA defeated Spain in the gold medal basketball final, 118-107. In the process, Wake Forest standout Chris Paul secured himself a gold medal and place in olympic history.
Paul contributed 13 points and 5 assists in 24 minutes of play, and the coaches looked to him to control the flow of the game and manage the ball when the game was on the line.
Congratulations to Paul and the whole USA Basketball team on their accomplishment; it was an impressive body of work this Olympic games.
Having hung out at practice today I can safely say that we would be lucky to have such beautiful weather come September 6th. 77 degrees with a few clouds around is nearly perfect for football.
On the field, the Deacs once again practiced in shells for about two hours. That's two days in a row without full pads; I'm curious to see if they'll wear them again before Thursday's game - possibly on Monday, but I don't know. I don't think it makes a big difference at this point, just sort of interesting to see how they manage that type of thing.
Based solely on the coaches' attitudes on the field today I'm confident they were more pleased with today's practice than yesterday's. Just about everyone was doing his job and I only saw the coaches get animated once. I think that's a good indication that the problems yesterday were just a concentration lapse. The guys just need to make sure not to have another one of those next Thursday.
Practice followed a pretty typical schedule, including individual and special teams periods to start, some first string vs. second string time, and then plenty of work running scout offense and defense of Baylor. They're also working on some situational stuff - 3rd and short situations in 11 on 11, or quarterbacks and receivers practicing what they need to do in scramble situations.
The coaches are constantly warning guys to avoid contact, but sometimes it's unavoidable. Junior Petit-Jean gave TE Ben Wooster a pretty good pop, meeting him at the exact second Wooster caught the ball. Stanley Arnoux also put a pretty good hit on a scout offense player (missed who it was). Everyone got up just fine, so it was nice to see a couple of good hits.
Several plays and players stood out today. Marshall Williams had a handful of really good catches along the sidelines. On one screen pass to D.J. Boldin it looked like there was nowhere to go, but Boldin made one quick juke to get past and managed to get a decent chunk of yards.
Brandon Pendergrass had a particularly good day, bouncing one run outside and beating the defense (I don't think he was ever touched) for what would have been a long touchdown run. A short while later Riley Skinner hit Pendergrass with a 50 yard touchdown pass on a beautiful throw and a great catch.
Defensively I was impressed by CB Michael Willliams' effort against the first team. He broke up a couple of passes and did a good job staying with receivers. On the defensive line I saw Michael Carter make a good move to get past a linemen for what would have been a sack.
The offense spent one period working on third and short situations and I was impressed by the offensive line's ability to pick up blitzes; I'm getting more and more confident about the first string. The second string still struggled however, including a couple of issues with snap counts that had the coaches pretty unhappy. That was really the only time I saw coaches upset today, a pretty good indication of a good practice.
Tomorrow is a day off for the team so there won't be any practice report. I have had the chance to talk to Jim Grobe and Riley Skinner and I'll post those interviews tomorrow.
I originially hoped to get out to the women's soccer opener last night, but due to the lateness of football practice and some other things going on it never happened. The Deacs won 2-1 and overtime, and the Journal has a bit of a report here.
I am almost positive I'll be at tonight's men's soccer scrimmage and will probably do some live blogging. Game starts at seven so stop by and check it out.
Elsewhere, Heather Dinnich at ESPN.com posted several Wake-related items, including this video (with Lou Holtz and Mark May showing the Deacs some love) and this post about Trey Bailey.
I'm headed to football practice in a couple hours. I should have a report up around noon. Enjoy your Saturday!
If you're the observant type, it only takes a minute at practice to notice that a pretty significant change is occurring. The various stickers and logos have been added to the players' helmets, a clear indication that we must be getting close to seeing some real football.
This afternoon's practice lasted just over two hours and was conducted only in shells. The team started with some individual work and a lot of special teams. Instead of working on the standard special teams units, some "special" special units were in use (confusing, huh?).
Swank and the punters were working on stopping 35 yard punts just shy of the goal line and Brandon Ghee and the return team were working on blocking punts, plus just about every other special teams unit got some work.
The team also spent a significant portion of the day working on redzone offense and defense. It's important for them to get this kind work in, as things get a lot more cramped down there and things look different than they do when there's plenty of field to work with.
The ball-catchers (WRs and TEs) had a rough day. Not only were they dropping balls, but they were consistently getting in trouble for running the wrong routes. There was clearly confusion - sometimes receivers nearly collided. I noticed Andrew Parker and Ben Wooster had particularly bad days, with several drops each.
The lack of concentration in catching balls would have been enough to make the coaches mad by itself. The wrong routes receivers ran only made them even angrier. Several times I heard coaches remind players that these mistakes could potentially cost them the game next week at Baylor. It got bad enough for the coaches to make all receivers stop and do pushups for awhile.
Riley Skinner's passing looked crisp and accurate. Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass were both running well.
Matt Woodlief came up with an impressive interception during red zone 7 on 7. All of a sudden he had an arm in the air tipping the ball to himself for a pick. Devon "Y'lou" Brown was the only receiver I noticed making any impressive catches.
Aside from the helmets, the biggest indication of the transition from preseason to regular season was the amount of time dedicated to scout time. At least half of the practice was spent preparing specifically for Baylor.
As far as I'm concerned, it's about time.
I can't tell you how ready I am to finally see this team play. I know the next six days are going to move much to slowly for my liking. All the previews floating around don't make things easier, particularly this most recent effort ACC Nation put together - a great interview with Stan Cotten.
I've missed out on some items the last couple days, so here's a recap:
I even missed this one at first this morning: Lenox Rawlings thinks we'll see Wake in the ACC Championship game. I like it!
I think J.P. Giglio underestimates the Deacs when he says their most realistic scenario this season is "seven to eight wins and a decent bowl trip."
Still, you've got to love a third Wake article from the N&O in one 24 hour period.
The AP reminds us Wake isn't just a basketball school anymore.
Coach Grobe actually has to worry about complacency - amazing how that happened!
For those who have an interest in keeping up with Dean Hood at EKU, here's a preview of the Colonels.
I'll be out at this afternoon's practice, so look for a report afterwards. I also may head out to women's soccer's opener against Utah. We'll see if that fits the schedule or not.
The preseason Blogpoll came out yesterday, and surprise surprise the Demon Deacons ended up exactly where they did in those other two polls that clearly don't matter as much as this one. Complete poll data is available here, Brian does some pretty interesting analysis with it.
|2||Ohio State (17)||22.9||2.0||24|
|3||Southern Cal (15)||22.9||3.0||23|
Total Ballots: 78
My ballot did come in fourth for the Coulter/Krugman award which goes to the voter who's ranking of his own team is farthest above the poll average. I'm okay with that, ultimately becuase I don't think my ranking of Wake is really all that unreasonable. I suppose you could say that makes me numb to the reailties of how things are, or maybe just stubborn, but at this point in a preseason poll I think you're allowed to have your own crazy opinions. Hopefully what happens on the field will only confirm what I already think I know.
On to other things...
I'm hoping to get out to practice myself this afternoon, although I'm not 100% sure if that will actually happen or not. Sorry for not having anything yesterday, I was driving all day. Dan Collins reported that Riley Skinner and Jordan Williams both practiced yesterday, which is great news.
I've got a busy day ahead, but look for something on practice later tonight.
I wasn't able to make yesterday's Deacon Tower tours for the media, but plenty of others were. Here's the rundown:
Winston-Salem Journal is impressed, and the News & Record likes it, too. WXII 12 even has some video.
As for the scrimmage, Skinner didn't play but no one's worried.
I'm on the road today, so this is probably it until tomorrow morning. Happy hump day!
I apologize for not having a more thorough report tonight, but here are some quick notes from the scrimmage:
- The team used this scrimmmage to practice what it's like to prepare for a real game - meaning they did they're real pregame routine, practiced getting on and off the field, etc.
- D.J. Boldin had the catch of the night (no surprise there) with a one handed leaping grab. Might even be the best catch of the preseason.
- Devon "Y'lou" Brown got hit incredibly hard and took a minute before getting up. Appeared to be fine, however.
- C.J. Washington ran well, but was hit hard several times and didn't return after the final hit.
- Brandon Pendergrass had a 10 yard touchdown run, and Josh Adams also ran well.
- Riley Skinner went through pregame warm-ups, but didn't actually participate in the scrimmage. Coach Grobe said afterwards that he tweaked a hammy in the weight room. Brett Hodges took all the first team snaps. This shouldn't be any cause for concern, it was precautionary and he should be fine.
- We talked yesterday about Dennis Godfry's move to the offensive line, but he didn't get a whole lot of snaps in the scrimmage. Only a handful in the last few posessions with true freshman/3rd string line. He just moved yesterday, so it makes some sense, but I'm guessing it's somewhat frustrating for him.
Today was the second to last two-a-day of the preseason.
The morning session was a pretty short practice in helmets only. There wasn't too much going on in this practice, mostly individual drills and technique type things that can be done without pads. A lot of time was spent with coaches just going over specifics with players. There was also a fair amount of time spent on special teams.
As has become common in these two-a-days, the team worked more on 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills in the afternoon session. D.J. Boldin made several good catches, which has become a pretty common sight at these practices. Freshman Andrew Parker continued to look good at tight end, including a long catch on a Brett Hodges pass, and I'm starting to think it's possible that we'll see him on the field this season.
According to coach, "We are pretty much finished with installation right now. We have all kinds of offensive and defensive stuff that we probably won't use during the season. I thought we got a lot of work this afternoon in team situations. We are starting to develop a two-deep and starting to work on our first opponent."
One very intriguing development this afternoon came in regards to redshirt freshman Dennis Godfrey. He was seen getting work on the offensive line today at guard. This says a lot about what the coaches must be thinking about the defensive line, the offensive line, and Godfry.
First of all, it indicates that the depth is definitely fine at defensive tackle. Dennis had a lot of talent and potential there, so the coaches must be feeling pretty good about things there to let him move.
It also indicates that the coaches are still very worried about the offensive line, particularly at guard. For them to move someone this late is a pretty significant change, and one they must have felt was very necessary. It also indicates that they have a lot of confidence in Godfrey's ability to learn the new position quickly. His size and athleticism alone make it clear he can play the position, he just needs to learn the specifics of the job.
I can't decide if I think this changes makes it more or less likely for Joe Looney to see the field this season. What do you all think?
It will be very interesting to track this over the next week or two. The final scrimmage is tomorrow, so if you're around head out to BB&T and check it out.
Feel free to continue submitting feedback on my Blogpoll ballot. I said yesterday that the poll would be published today, but apparently there was some sort of problem that has pushed it back a couple of days. My new ballot has Wake at 13, with West Virginia falling to 14 and Oregon climbing to 12. Keep telling me why I'm an idiot, I'm prone to listening.
I didn't get to some stuff over the weekend that might be of interest. For example, the News & Observer says the Triangle needs to take a look at Winston-Salem.
Here's a nice report from Saturday's Fan Fest, which sounded like lots of fun.
Also coming later today: a practice report as the Deacs hit the field again after the day off.
As I mentioned a couple days ago, I'm a voter in this season's Blogpoll and must submit my final ballot tomorrow morning. Commenter UMatWake pointed out the potentials dangers of ranking Wake too high, as the poll does give an award every week to the ballot showing the most bias towards its team.
So, I now submit the question to you, the readers. Is 9 too high a ranking for Wake Forest? I don't feel like it's completely rediculous, but I know I'm not totally objective in these areas. Even if it might be a fair ranking, am I better off dropping them a few spots to 12 or so and bowing to poll politics pressure? I can always move them up when they win a couple games and prove their worth, but I'm just not sure.
Let me know what you think. This might be one of the most important decisions we make.
Just kidding...but seriously.
Just like the coaches poll, Wake comes in at 23rd in the first AP poll of the season. Not too surprising - it sounds pretty good to me.
Sorry for not having an update last night, but here are a few quick notes on yesterday's practices.
The morning session was helmets only and pretty short. The team only did individual drills and special teams, no 7 on 7 or 11 on 11.
The afternoon session was almost all 7 on 7 and 11 on 11.
Chip Brinkman, Anthony Williams, and Cameron Ford all practiced in the morning. Freshman Garrick Williams, who was recruited as a tackle, was taking reps at center, presumably due to the loss of Ryan Britt in Thursday's scrimmage.
Around the web, theACC.com is previewing all twelve football teams, and here's Wake Forest.
Former Wake Forest standout and first round draft pick of the San Diego Padres signed yesterday right before the deadline. Best of luck.
I received an email from a reader this afternoon asking the following: "Could do you a post about who's injured right now and how long they might be out?"
I've been doing my best to post injury updates in just about every practice report, however I'm sure it's been difficult to keep up with exactly who is hurt with what and when, since even I have had trouble keeping up at times. So, hopefully this will be a helpful summary of the current state.
Ted Stachitas - QB - Fr - Still recovering from shoulder surgery. Will definitely redshirt, not sure of a time frame for his return to practice.
Chip Brinkman - WR - SR (RS) - Hamstring injury, has been out for awhile but practiced this morning. We'll see if he's still out there this afternoon in full pads. Clearly he's close to a complete recovery
Cameron Ford - TE - FR (RS) - High ankle sprain, was expected to be out for awhile but also practiced this morning. I'm not sure if he's quite as far along as Brinkman, but we'll see if he practices this afternoon as well. If so, he's clearly further along than expected, as he was originally expected to be out at least another week.
Ryan Britt - C - FR (RS) - Hurt his leg in yesterday's scrimmage. I don't know a time frame yet.
Jordan Williams - WR - SO - Lingering groin injury, day-to-day but did not practice this morning.
Andrew Parker - TE - FR - hurt a couple of days ago and didn't participate in yesterday's scrimmage. Should be day-to-day.
Boomer Peterson - T - JR (RS) - Hurt his right arm, not sure about a time frame.
Scott Betros - LB - FR - Shoulder, probably out for season and will redshirt.
Kyle Jarett - LB - FR (RS) - Left practice with EMTs after experiencing diziness a couple days ago. He appears to be okay, but I'm not sure if he's practicing quite yet.
I'm pretty sure that's all I have right now, but if I realize I forgot someone I'll update. I'll also try to have a weekly injury report going forward so everyone can keep track. Hope that helps!
I've been invited to join the 2008 Blogpoll, which is just like the AP poll except all the voters are bloggers like me. It's very easy to analyze the preseason polls that everyone else comes out with, but I'm finding out it's much more difficult to come up with one of your own.
Brian Cook of mgoblog, who runs the poll, recently posted these guidelines regarding the philosophy behind Blogpoll. I thought long and hard about whether or not I should submit a ballot that reflects what I think things will look like on the morning of January 9, 2009 or one that reflects a sort of "power rankings" right now. I opted for the latter, using my (limited) knowledge of every team to determine who would beat who in a completely neutral setting. Once we get a few weeks into the season I plan on switching to a "resume" method of balloting, looking at each team's body of work to that point.
One of the great things about Blogpoll is that it encourages every pollster to interact with his readers regarding his ballot. So, here is my preliminary 2008 preseason ballot. Let me know what you like, what you don't like, and why. Feel free to ask questions about my ballot and I'll do my best to explain myself. Ultimately I hope to improve my ballot based on your feedback, so fire away. I have to submit my final ballot on Monday morning, so get cracking.
Here's my tentative ballot:
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.