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August 31, 2012
Five keys: Wake Forest vs. Liberty
Wake Forest vs. Liberty
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Stadium: BB&T Field
Kickoff: Saturday at 6:30 PM ET
Records in 2011:
Wake Forest: 6-7, 5-3 ACC
Liberty: 7-4, 5-1 Big South
Series history: The Demon Deacons lead the series 1-0, winning the only meeting 34-14 at Wake in 2006.
What is on the line? Liberty has nothing to lose, but everything to gain, while the Deacs need to build confidence and momentum going into next week's ACC opener against North Carolina.
Quotes of the week
"I think we've got a good football team in Liberty coming in this week, and I know Turner Gill and his staff, he's got a veteran staff, they'll do a great job, so we know we've got a challenge." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
"For the first game the biggest thing is we don't come out and we take these guys lightly, because they're a great team. They have a great program, and they've got a lot of talented players, so we're going to have to come out and be really focused and execute our offense and play really good football if we want to win this game." - Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price
"We're just ready for anything, so we're preparing for everything. We're preparing for them, but what's most important is that we execute what we have to do, because if we take care of what we have to do then it really doesn't matter what they have, so we got to take care of what we got to take care of and then game-time once we see what they're trying to do we'll probably switch it up." - Wake Forest running back Orville Reynolds
"We're going to be a 60-percent run, a 40-percent pass, we're going to be a multiple offense and we're going to attack it the way that we think we can attack certain areas and so I think that's going to be really as a progress as we go along and doing things."
"I'm really more of a coach that says find out what talent we have and then we can suit the offense the way we need to do it, but again we do have some talent there. We're looking forward to that. We're just trying to figure out our quarterback situation. That's probably the only thing that right now if at any position to say unsettling would be the quarterback spot, and we'll see how it all turns out as we play our guys there in that game." - Liberty head coach Turner Gill
Keys to the game
1) Support Price
Price has the physical tools and intangibles to have another 3,000-plus-yard season through the air. Grobe has often said Price's success depends on his supporting cast.
That means the offensive line must provide strong pass-protection, receivers must be reliable targets, and the Demon Deacons need to run the ball.
2) Establish the run
Wake Forest ranked ninth in the ACC in rushing with 114.6 yards per game last season. To create a balanced offensive attack it is imperative for the Deacs to get the ground game going.
After a hamstring injury limited Josh Harris in 2011 the redshirt junior entered 2012 ready to work. He is at the top of Wake's depth chart with DeAndre Martin and Orville Reynolds[/db] also competing for carries.
"I think he's [Harris] had a really good August and I'll kind of flip a coin for those next two [Reynolds and Martin]. I think all three backs are going to get work Saturday night. It might be more not a factor of who's one, two, three and the order when you get the work, but when you get the work what do you do? That might be the deal. It's a good position right now. It's one of the more competitive places, and they've all stayed healthy."
3) Keep it simple
The schemes Gill and his staff employed at Kansas were different from the ones they used at Buffalo. This made has made game-preparation more challenging for the Wake Forest coaches.
"We've kind of had to prepare for a couple of different types of offenses and then defense a little bit of the same stuff," Grobe said. "I think we saw some 3-4 stuff at Kansas, but I think they're also pretty committed to being a 4-3 team and we saw that Buffalo."
"We've actually tried to be students. We've had to do homework, trying to figure out what we might see. I think it's a problem, because you're trying to figure out what their real bread and butter is going to be and you're not really sure, so you end up trying to be a jack of all trades."
Another challenge facing the Deacs is preparing to face two quarterbacks, Brian Hudson and Josh Woodrum.
"They're both dual-threat quarterbacks, able to run if they need to," Gill said. "They've been able to throw the ball extremely well. That's probably the one good thing I've been very excited about that both quarterbacks can throw the ball very well and they're pretty accurate as far as making there throws."
"They can throw the deep ball. They can throw the intermediate passes, and do all those things in a pretty good way."
Gill has not announced a starter, but said both will play two series before deciding which one will finish the game.
While preparing for what the Flames has been difficult sometimes the best thing a coaching staff can do is simplify things for their players. It makes it easier for defenders to attack.
"You got to be careful," Grobe said. "The thing you don't want to do is get so fancy that you're turning people loose in coverage and giving chippie touchdowns and big plays."
"Defensively, we've got a lot of guys that are very confident and comfortable in what we're asking them to do defensively, which is a lot right now, but when we get to the game and knowing what to do and playing full-speed are two different things, so we've just got to be careful with our guys. A lot of things look good on the grease board, but when you try to get them playing full-speed that's going to be your key."
Wake's offensive line being as young and banged up as it is the last thing it needs aside from injuries is to think.
The same goes for the Demon Deacon receiving corps as injuries have rendered it a lean and inexperienced unit, which will likely force Campanaro to shoulder an even greater load.
4) No giveaways
As Grobe said Wake Forest cannot give Liberty any chippies.
Mistakes: missed blocks, dropped passes, turnovers, missed tackles, broken coverages, foolish penalties etc. are some things that can keep a stronger team from beating an inferior one.
While Liberty may lack some of the tools Wake can put to use it does have the talent to capable of capitalizing on another's blunders.
5) Subdue the run
Wake Forest gave up an average of 169.8 yards rushing per game to finish ninth against the run in the ACC last season. This is an area the Demon Deacons need to improve dramatically, and the Flames are not going to make it easy for them.
Liberty will be without its leading rusher from last season, Aldreakis Allen, who is suspended for Saturday's game. Allen carried 120 times for 612 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011.
However, the Flames remain deep and talented at the position with Sirchauncey Holloway leading the way. The solid 5-foot-7 and 205-pound running back was third on the team in rushing last season with 53 carries for 294 yards and four touchdowns.
"I think his asset that he is he is very explosive, very quick, great burst," Gill said. "He can run through tackles. He can also make people miss in the hole. That's what I like about him. He's also a guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield and [is] a pretty good pass-protector."
"The other guys after would really be situationals. I've got Desmond Rice, I got Korrey Davis and we are going to play a true freshman, a guy by the name of D.J. Abnar is going to play. We're not going to redshirt him. We're going to go ahead and play him. We're going to put them in at different times and different situations, but Holloway is the top-notch guy for us, our running back."
*A major thanks goes out to Liberty University Athletics for providing player photos.