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July 12, 2012

Gridiron questions: part two

Deacons Illustrated continues to ask the key questions surrounding Wake Forest as the kickoff to the 2012 football season draws near in part two of Gridiron questions.

As stated in part one the Demon Deacons are hoping to build on last season's Music City Bowl-appearance and second-place Atlantic Division-finish, but have an abundance of unknowns staring them down.

--- Steed Lobotzke juggled play-calling duties and coaching the offensive line the last nine seasons, but the hiring of Jonathan Himebauch frees him up to focus more of his energy and planning toward being a coordinator.

6) Last season the Deacs ranked ninth in the ACC in total offense (367.8 yards per game), and were eighth in the conference in scoring (26 points per game). How will the offense evolve in 2012 with Lobotzke given more room to work his schemes and add wrinkles?

--- Cameron Ford and Andrew Parker graduated, leaving the starting job at tight end ripe for the picking.

Neil Basford and Spencer Bishop are the leading candidates going into training camp, while true freshmen Zach Gordon and Anthony Rook will also get a good look.

7) Who emerges as the starting tight end, or will it be run by committee?

--- Merrill Noel returns to lead Wake's secondary after breaking up a school record 19 passes and finishing tied for first in the FBS in passes defended with 21 to earn Freshman All-America honors last season. Cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Kenny Okoro also add talent to the secondary, while A.J. Marshall looks to fit in as a floater back and forth from free safety to nickel back after playing cornerback his first two years; much like third team All-American Josh Bush did last season.

Marshall along with strong safety Desmond Cooper look to replace Bush and leading tackler Cyhl Quarles (101 tackles). Duran Lowe and Daniel Mack look to push Marshall and Cooper for playing time.

8) How does Marshall transition into his new role, and does the overall play of the secondary take a step forward or back under new position coach Tim Duffie?

--- In 2011 Chris Givens came out of nowhere to set the school record for the most receiving yards in a single season with 1,330.

9) Who will be the surprise impact player for Wake Forest this season?

--- After completing 253-422 passes for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns to only six interceptions last season Tanner Price enters his junior year as the undisputed starter.

Brendan Cross appeared to have created some separation between himself and Kevin Sousa and Patrick Thompson as Price's backup. However, the jury is still out as he has more to prove, especially if Tyler Cameron is healthy.

10) Who will win the battle for second string quarterback?

Only time will tell regarding the answers to these questions, but Demon Deacon fans can be sure to have some clarity in the coming weeks and months.


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