Wake Forest Preview 2006 - Offense

Posted Jul 31, 2006

Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview 2006 - Wake Offense

What you need to know ... Defenses know what they're getting from the Demon Deacon offense, but will they be able to stop it? Wake Forest will run the ball and run some more with a veteran, talented offensive line paving the way for Micah Andrews and the stable of big, fast backs, but the offense has to put more points on the board and that will only come with a more efficient passing game. Ben Mauk doesn't have to throw for 3,000 yards, but he needs to push the ball deep and has to complete around 60% of his throws for the offense to work. Nate Morton returns to lead an experienced, but average receiving corps.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ben Mauk
85-158, 845 yds, 1 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Micah Andews
110 carries, 621 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Nate Morton
 39 catches, 482 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior OT Steve Vallos
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Ben Mauk
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OG Matthew Brim
Best pro prospect: Vallos
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Vallos, 2) RB Micah Andrews, 3) OT Arby Jones
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback, offensive line depth

Ben Mauk has been around long enough to be an effective all-around quarterback, but he has to be better than he was at the beginning of last year when he had a hard time moving the offense. After getting pushed aside for Cory Randolph, who immediately showed more in the passing game, Mauk had to sit and learn for most of the rest of 2005. Now the job is all his and he needs to be efficient at spreading the ball around and pushing it deep to open things up for the ground game. Allan Holland and Brett Hodges are promising, but they're very, very green. 
The key to the unit: Make enough plays to make defenses not pay their full attention to the running game.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Ben Mauk, Jr. - 85-158, 845 yds, 53.8%, 1 TD, 6 INT, 64 carries, 42 yds, 2 TD
Mauk started the first four games of the season and threw relatively well, but he got benched for Cory Randolph when the team needed a spark. It's not fair to blame the 1-3 start on Mauk, but his four interceptions didn't help. He has the experience to be more effective, but he has to be more efficient and he has to be a bit more of a runner than he was last year. As the only quarterback on the roster with any appreciable experience, the team will sink or swim with him.

Top Backups
- Brett Hodges, RFr.
Hodges is the fastest, most athletic quarterback in the mix, but he needs plenty of practice time. He doesn't have a huge arm, but he's speedy enough to be an effective runner and should be a strong passer on the move. 

- Allan Holland, Soph. - 0-1, 1 carry, 6 yds
Holland is an interesting backup option with a bit more speed than Ben Mauk and a live arm in a 230-pound frame. He has to hit the field early on for a few snaps here and there just to get his feet wet, but he's not going to knock Mauk out of the starting spot unless disaster strikes.

Running Backs
Chris Barclay and his 4,032 career rushing yards and 40 touchdowns might be gone, but there are plenty of great backs in place to keep the ACC's leading rushing attack rolling. Micah Andrews showed last year that he can crank out big yards when he gets the opportunity, and now he'll be the main man from day one and a sure bet to hit the 1,000-yard mark if he stays healthy. De'Angelo Bryant and Kevin Harris are big backs with tremendous speed, but they don't have much experience. The fullback situation is excellent with Damon McWhite and Richard Belton each able to blow open huge holes.
The key to the unit: Getting the speed of De'Angelo Bryant and Kevin Harris in the mix right away to keep Micah Andrews healthy.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Micah Andrews, Jr. - 110 carries, 621 yds, 5.6 ypc, 1 TD, 7 catches, 71 yds
With Chris Barclay out for the 2005 season opener, Andrews showed off what he can do by ripping off 254 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Vanderbilt. He followed it up with a 64-yard day against Nebraska and a 142-yard effort against East Carolina, but then he was pushed out of the spotlight when Barclay got back in the mix and finished his season up with an ankle injury before the Miami game. Now the job is all his and he should shine. He's not as fast as Barclay and doesn't have the same receiving skills, but he's more powerful and should be a workhorse.

- Fullback Damon McWhite, Jr. - 9 carries, 54 yds., 9 catches, 54 yds
All concerns about McWhite's injured knee suffered in 2004 quickly dissipated as he once again turned in an impressive season as a key blocker for the ground game. He isn't used much as a runner, but the 255-pound senior can provide good power when needed.

Top Backups
- De'Angelo Bryant, Jr. - 22 carries, 89 yds, 4.0 ypc, 1 TD
Bryant was third in the pecking order behind Chris Barclay and Micah Andrews, so he spent most of the year making an impact on special teams. Now he'll be a major factor with a stunning blend of speed and power with 4.5 speed in a 245-pound body.
- Kevin Harris, RFr.
Harris is a very big, very strong, very fast tailback option with 4.5 speed, a 430-pound bench press and 230 pounds to pound away with. He was a Florida state high school weightlifting champion and now will be a key reserve in the rushing attack.
- Fullback Richard Belton, Soph. - 17 carries, 60 yds, 1 TD, 13 catches, 85 yds, 2 TD
Belton started the first few games of the season until Damon McWhite got back in the mix and he turned into a solid all-around back. He's not the blocker McWhite is, but he's a strong runner with better speed.

Wake Forest will never be a big-time passing team under head coach Jim Grobe, but it has to throw effectively to open things up for the ground attack. Efficiency was the main issue last year partly due to the quarterbacks and partly due to ineffective play from the receiving corps. Nate Morton is a reliable number one target, but he's not exactly going to challenge for All-ACC honors. New receiver coach Tim Billings has to establish the pecking order for the number two receiver with Willie Idlette, Kevin Marion and Kenneth Moore all speedy enough to stretch the field more than they did last year. 
The key to the unit: Getting more big plays after averaging only 10.3 yards per catch with a mere seven touchdowns last year.
Receiver Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- Nate Morton, Sr. - 39 catches, 482 yds, 12.4 ypc, 2 TD
The team's leading receiver for the last two seasons can play either receiver position and will start out on the outside at the X position. He's steady, but not spectacular growing into a reliable number one target. He has 79 career catches for 1,033 yards with a mere two touchdown grabs. At 6-3 he has the size to pose matchup problems, and now he has to make more big plays to add more pop to the passing game once he gets over the broken hand he suffered this off-season.

- Willie Idlette, Sr. - 10 catches, 86 yds, 8.6 ypc
One of the team's best all-around players over the last few seasons as a kick returner and a runner, he needs to use his speed to be more of a playmaking receiver. He's a sprinter on the Demon Deacon ACC champion relay team, but he hasn't been used as much of a deep threat on the football field. He'll get the start at the Z position where he should have few problems getting open in the middle of the field.

- Tight end John Tereshinski, Jr. - 8 catches, 54 yds, 6.8 ypc
The 240-pound junior has been part of the mix for the last few seasons with good hands, but his real worth so far has been as a blocker. He has the speed to become a dangerous target and should be used more as a downfield receiver. 

Top Backups
- Kevin Marion, Jr. - 3 catches, 67 yds, 22.3 ypc, 1 TD
Marion has to be a consistent home run hitter using his warp speed to be a game-breaker. He has a career average of 14.9 yards per catch, but he only has 16 catches with a mere three last year. He's back in the mix after being suspended over the final three games of last year.
- Kenneth Moore, Jr. - 8 catches, 127 yds, 15.9 ypc, 1 TD
Moore became a factor over the second half of the season getting the starting nod against Clemson catching a 74-yard touchdown pass. He has the moves to be a playmaker in the open field playing behind Nate Morton at the X.
- Tight end Zac Selmon, Jr. - 10 catches, 120 yds
A variety of injuries have held him down so far, but he has the speed and athleticism to be a top receiver in the mix. He's the son of former Oklahoma star lineman Dewey Selmon. Lee Roy and Lucious Selmon are his uncles.

Offensive Linemen
The starting five should be dominant. Four starters return with the fifth the experienced, 360-pound guard Chris DeGeare. Tackle Steve Vallos is the star of the show, but tackle Arby Jones and guard Matthew Brim aren't far behind production-wise. The coaching staff would love to come up with a consistent rotation of as many linemen as possible, but that might be tough early on with all the top backups redshirt freshmen. 

The key to the unit: Quickly develop the promising redshirt freshmen to create some reliable depth. Better overall pass protection would be nice after allowing 26 sacks last year.
Offensive Line Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- OT Arby Jones, Sr.
Able to play either guard or tackle, the 285-pound senior is a versatile, experience blocker who has grown into one of the line's steadiest players. He'll start on the left side and should be an even better pass protector thanks to his experience.
- OG Matthew Brim, Jr.
Brim started off his career at tackle before moving inside to guard. He's a dominant run blocker with good athleticism. The 295-pound junior isn't going to earn All-ACC honors, but he's growing into something special.
- C Steve Justice, Jr.
Justice was one of last year's biggest surprises starting every game after spending most of his first season on special teams. He's a good-sized blocker at 6-4 and 280  pounds and was stunningly consistent.
- OG Chris DeGeare, Soph.
The massive true sophomore was solid from day one of his freshman season. While not the most consistent lineman, that was to be expected with no experience, he showed why he's going to be one of the stars of the line with tremendous strength in a 6-4, 360-pound frame.
- OT Steve Vallos, Sr.
The team's best lineman, Vallos can play either guard or tackle an be in the mix for All-ACC honors at either one. He's a dominant technician in the running game with quick enough feet to be an effective pass protector. He's the one the running game will work behind for the tough yards.

Top Backups
- T Joe Birdsong, RFr.
One of the team's top recruits a few years ago, the 290-pound Birdsong will be expected to play a key role in the rotation on the left side behind Arby Jones.
- T Jeff Griffin, RFr.
The understudy on the right side behind Joe Vallos, Griffin is a very strong, very talented prospect who'll be groomed to take over a starting spot next year.
- G Boomer Peterson, RFr.
Besides just having a fantastic name, Peterson is a great-looking guard prospect on the left side behind Matthew Brim. He's strong and athletic, but he needs playing time.