2011 Wake Forest Preview – Offense
Wake Forest QB Tanner Price
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Wake Forest Demon Deacon Offense
Preview 2011 - Offense
- 2011 Wake Forest Preview |
Wake Forest Offense
2011 Wake Forest Defense |
Wake Forest Depth Chart
- Wake Forest Previews 2010 |
What You Need To Know: Rock bottom. That's where Wake Forest will be looking to climb back from after ranking 11th in the ACC in scoring and total offense. While a dip was expected in the first year without QB Riley Skinner, it wound up being a freefall on this side of the ball. Hey, at least the Deacons suffered through growing pains by using underclassmen at key positions. The backfield was comprised of freshmen, QB Tanner Price and RB Josh Harris, who are both expected to be more competent in their second seasons. Plus, the Joe Looney-led line returns four starters, which should help make everyone around them better. Chris Givens is the cover boy of a receiving corps that's light on stars, but heavy with speed and athleticism. Wake Forest has to be better with the ball in 2011, but by how much will depend on the play of the quarterbacks, likely Price or possibly last year's backup Ted Stachitas.
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Josh Harris
Passing: Tanner Price
137-241, 1,349 yds, 7 TDs, 8 INTs
Rushing: Josh Harris
126 carries, 720 yds, 7 TDs
Receiving: Chris Givens
35 catches, 514 yds, 4 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Tanner Price
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Michael Campanaro
Best pro prospect: Senior G Joe Looney
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Looney, 2) Harris, 3) Junior WR Chris Givens
Strength of the offense: The running game, run blocking, athleticism of the quarterbacks
Weakness of the offense: The passing game, pass protection, converting on third downs, red zone efficiency
State of the Unit: Wake Forest knew there'd be no easy way to replace all-timer Riley Skinner, who'd graduated. However, it wound up being tougher than even the school expected, finishing 109th nationally in passing efficiency. The Demon Deacons labored through a difficult year, using four different players and settling on a rookie fresh out of high school. The good news is that everyone is a year older and, save for the transferring Skylar Jones, back in Winston-Salem.
Playing for the future, Wake gave the ball to 6-2, 200-pound true freshman Tanner Price , who started nine games. Now a sophomore, he received ample on-the-job training, going 137-of-241 for 1,349 yards, seven touchdowns, and eight picks. A younger, undeveloped version of Boise State's Kellen Moore, he's an accurate southpaw, with the poise of an upperclassmen. He also has good mobility, rushing for four scores and 280 yards before sacks reduced his total by more than half.
Junior Ted Stachitas has spent the offseason making sure Price has to work to retain his job. The former successor to Tim Tebow at Nease (Fla.) High School, he played in just five games a year ago, going 12-of-23 for 131 yards and a pick. However, the 6-1, 205-pounder threw the ball well in the spring and is another good athlete, running for 171 yards and two scores in 2010. Also in the mix is 6-2, 200-pound sophomore Brendan Cross . The son of former NFL great Randy Cross, he saw spot duty in four games of his debut.
Watch Out For … Price to hold on to the job. He's definitely getting pushed by Stachitas and Cross, but he has the highest ceiling among the competitors and last year's body of work gives him experience that the others simply cannot relate to.
Strength: Athleticism. All of the quarterbacks, from Price to the redshirt freshmen, have quick feet, escaping pressure and beating a linebacker to the first down marker. This unit is comprised undersized athletes, who are capable of rushing for 500 yards if the line does a better job of protecting the pocket.
Weakness: Arm strength. Not only will the Demon Deacons suffer from another year of middling passing efficiency, but the quarterbacks lack pop. Connecting on deep balls is a problem, and if passes in the flat don't have more zip, they're going to get picked off.
Outlook: The good news is that the worst is now behind the Wake Forest quarterbacks. Everyone has a little bit of experience, which is a very different situation than this time last year. However, the staff still wants more from this group. A lot more. Price has a chance to be a nice player, but he's still another year away from turning the corner.
Unit Rating: 6
State of the Unit: Wake Forest emphasizes the ground game on offense, but has not produced up to its expectations in recent years. It's been a shared responsibility of the backs and the offensive line. However, the Demon Deacons are optimistic that they harbor a young and talented runner that they can build around for the next few seasons.
One of the silver linings of last year's disaster was the emergence of 5-10, 205-pound sophomore Josh Harris . In his debut, he took command of the ground game, rushing for a team-high 720 yards and seven scores on 126 carries. In one October explosion, he made national waves in Blacksburg, burning Virginia Tech for 241 yards and two scores on only 20 carries. A deliberate runner, he hits the hole quickly and has the jets to out run everyone once he gets into the secondary.
Senior Brandon Pendergrass is an experienced back to either provide veteran depth or spell Harris in the starting lineup. He's gone steadily downhill since debuting with 528 yards and five scores, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns before missing the second half of the year. Quick and low to the ground, the 5-9, 200-pounder is tough to hit squarely. Fighting for the No. 3 slot is 5-10, 175-pound redshirt freshman Nick Knott , a slippery runner best served for now as a situational or third down option.
Fullback will be in the able hands of 6-2, 245-pound junior Tommy Bohanon . Pound-for-pound one of the strongest offensive players, he's a talented blocker and a viable, north-south option in short yardage situations. The starter when Wake didn't open in three-wide sets, he carried 17 times for 77 yards and caught 11 balls for 75 yards.
Watch Out For … Harris to blossom into one of the ACC's premier backs. No longer forced to share time with Josh Adams, he possesses the right blend of speed and energy to rush for 1,000 yards, especially on a team determined to establish a more consistent running game.
Strength: Speed. In Harris and Pendergrass, the Demon Deacons have more than one back capable of hitting the hole quickly, getting a block or two downfield from a receiver, and bolting through the secondary . Both have great speed and quickness, which will cause fits for opposing defenses.
Weakness: Power runners. Where is the 220-pound plower, who can effectively move the pile near the goal line. Bohanon is one possibility, but he's a fullback who'll be employed more exclusively as a blocker. Wake can use a short-yardage back with a little more pop in his arsenal.
Outlook: For good reason, there's genuine excitement surrounding Harris and his future. The program believes it has a feature back it can ride for the next three seasons. Plus, with Pendergrass healthy again, Wake Forest has a nice one-two punch and playmakers on the first two rungs of the two-deep.
Unit Rating: 7.5
State of the Unit: The receivers lacked consistency a year ago, but it wasn't all their fault. The quarterback play also left a lot to be desired, so the ineffectiveness of the passing game was a shared responsibility. The Deacons are looking to regroup around an ensemble that lost one of its top players, Devon Brown, who has decided to transfer.
The most dangerous weapon in the passing game will be 6-0, 195-pound junior Chris Givens , a bona fide playmaker on the outside. Entering his third season as a starter, he makes the most of his opportunities, turning 80 career receptions into 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns. With proper support from his battery mate, he has the speed and knack for picking up yards after the catch to start getting the all-star attention befitting of his talent.
The favorite to join Givens in the lineup at flanker is 5-10, 190-pound sophomore Michael Campanaro , who played well in his debut. Tough and extremely fast, he laid a nice foundation in 2010, catching 10 balls for 107 yards, rushing 29 times for 123 yards and a score, and leading the team in kick returns. He'll share time with 5-10, 185-pound junior Lovell Jackson , who's had a nice offseason. He has gamebreaking athleticism, but has had a hard time staying on the field. After catching eight passes for 106 yards and a score, 6-2, 185-pound senior Danny Dembry is looking to remain in the rotation. A former quarterback, with good speed, he brings leadership and experience to the group.
The Deacons are set at tight end with seniors Andrew Parker and Cameron Ford , who split starts in 2010. While underutilized in the passing game, grabbing just six balls for 37 yards, the 6-5, 245-pound Parker has the big hands and catch radius to do so much more for the offense. At 6-4 and 255 pounds, Ford is not only better built to be a blocker, but also led all tight ends in receptions, catching 11 passes for 120 yards.
Watch Out For … Campanaro. He's one of those skill position player who doesn't look all that imposing, but has a habit of making things happen with the ball in his hands. Whether catching passes, taking handoffs on fly sweeps or playing special teams, he's quick, decisive, and a Deacon warranting more touches in 2011.
Strength: The tight ends. It's a position that should be employed a little more liberally this fall, especially since the Wake quarterbacks are at their best on intermediate routes. Parker and Ford are seasoned veterans, with reliable hands and starting experience.
Weakness: Consistency. While the wideouts can be exciting at times, they can also be inconsistent, particularly when it comes to dropped passes. For the benefit of the entire offense, they have to do a better job of catching with their hands and securing the ball before looking to head downfield.
Outlook: After losing a decent array of talent to graduations and a transfer, Wake Forest has some work to do in the offseason at receiver. While Givens is a well-kept secret and the tight ends are solid, the Deacons need a few more capable options to emerge in order to elevate the entire passing game.
Unit Rating: 6.5
State of the Unit: Four starters and a slew of letterwinners return from last season's offensive line. Based on how the unit performed a year ago, that could be couched as either a positive or a negative. While it's always nice to be bringing back veterans, with ample experience, the excitement is muted by the program's 2010 film. The Deacons struggled to protect the pocket and were just so-so in run blocking, results they plan to reverse this fall.
Now that Russell Nenon has graduated, 6-3, 320-pound senior LG Joe Looney is poised to take over as the leader of the offensive line. One of the program's top recruits from 2008, he enters his third season as a starter, looking to get over the hump and earn All-ACC honors. Physical at the point of attack and vocal, he has good feet and the upper body strength to overpower opposing linemen.
Over on the opposite side, right guard ought to be manned by 6-6, 295-pound senior Michael Hoag , who started 10 games in 2010. Athletic and heady, he needs to work on bending more from the knees and becoming a better drive blocker. Junior Gabe Irby gives the Deacons a veteran presence on the inside. At his best in tight spaces, where his modest athleticism and footwork can't be exposed, the 6-3, 325-pound bull started the NC State game last November. Rounding out the interior, 6-4, 310-pound junior Garrick Williams has the difficult task of replacing Nenon at the pivot. He started one game each at center and left guard in 2010, showcasing his versatility.
The tackle spots are expected to be held down by a couple of experienced seniors, 6-8, 325-pound Doug Weaver and 6-3, 350-pound Dennis Godfrey . Weaver is on the right side, the blindside if Tanner Price is under center, coming off his first season as a full-timer starter. Built more like a pile-driving guard, Godfrey needs to pay attention to his weight and conditioning during the offseason. Sophomore Steven Chase appeared headed for the starting lineup last fall, but was unable to get past Godfrey or Weaver and was relegated to a reserve role. He looks the part at 6-7 and 305 pounds, using his long arms and light feet to work his way into the rotation.
Watch Out For … Looney to take another giant step toward being an All-ACC performer. It gets lost in the team's mediocrity, but he plays at a higher level than those around him, employing amped up intensity with a powerful upper body. When he's on, he can literally maul the other team's blocker.
Strength: Run blocking. The Demon Deacons are at their best when they can line up, go in one direction, and try to bully opponents off the line of scrimmage. They did a decent job a year ago, paving the way for Josh Harris, and have the necessary girth and strength to survive in alley fights.
Weakness: Pass protection. Blocking for a true freshman quarterback didn't help the situation, but the tackles have to do a much better job of protecting the pocket. The Deacons were 77th nationally in sacks allowed, stunting the growth of young Tanner Price.
Outlook: This is a big year for the Wake Forest offensive line, which has been a sore spot the last couple of seasons. The unit has slipped of late, but has enough returning starters to improve upon last fall's results. It'll also help to be blocking for a backfield, namely Price and Harris, that's a year older and wiser.
Unit Rating: 7
- 2011 Wake Forest Preview |
Wake Forest Offense
2011 Wake Forest Defense |
Wake Forest Depth Chart
- Wake Forest Previews 2010 |