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2010 Wake Forest Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 3, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Wake Forest Demon Deacon Offense


Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Wake Forest Preview | 2010 Wake Forest Offense
- 2010 Wake Forest Defense | 2010 Wake Forest Depth Chart
- Wake Forest Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: The graduation of Riley Skinner has been like a pebble in a pond, whose ripple effects will be felt for some time. Not only has it opened up a hotly-contested quarterback race that’ll trickle into August, but the system will be getting a facelift as well. No longer expecting to employ a pure pocket passer, Jim Grobe plans to install an attack that leans more on misdirection and the triple-option. Oh, he’ll make use of an outstanding corps of receivers, including Devon Brown, Marshall Williams, and Chris Givens, but they’ll be asked to do more than catch passes. Brown, in particular, will run the ball quite a bit on fly sweeps, reverses, and even some direct snaps. If Skylar Jones can maintain his lead at quarterback, he has the blazing speed and athleticism to do a lot of damage outside the pocket after playing wide receiver last season.

Returning Leaders
Passing: None
0-0, 0 yds, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
Rushing: Josh Adams
113 carries, 541 yds, 4 TDs
Receiving: Devon Brown
61 catches, 671 yds, 6 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior WR Devon Brown
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Skylar Jones
Unsung star on the rise: Junior LG Joe Looney
Best pro prospect: Looney
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) Senior C Russell Nenon, 3) Senior RB Josh Adams
Strength of the offense: Running back depth, the receivers, the interior of the line
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience behind center, the tackles, depth on the line, finishing drives

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Not only must Wake Forest replace four-year starter Riley Skinner, but it must do so with a collection of quarterbacks that have zero passing attempts between them. Few schools in America will endure a sharper decline in experience. The likely heir apparent coming out of spring is 6-1, 185-pound junior Skylar Jones , who has patiently waited for this opportunity. A tremendous all-around athlete, who’s been clocked in the low 4.3s, he can make people miss in the open field, adding a different dimension to the Deacon offense. As a passer, he still has plenty of room for growth to maintain this spot, needing to improve his accuracy and zip on his passes.

Projected Top Reserves: Within closest range of Jones at this point is 6-2, 198-pound redshirt freshman Brendan Cross. The son of former NFL great Randy Cross, he was modestly recruited out of Georgia, but possesses a nice mix of arm strength, athleticism, and leadership skills. Although his size probably turned off a lot of schools, he has something that could earn him this job in the summer.

Sophomore Ted Stachitas, who was Tim Tebow’s successor in high school, knows something about filling big shoes. He might be the best pure passer of the competitors, but a nagging injury hamstring injury thwarted his development and has him buried entering summer. While the physical and mental skills are up to standard, he needs to shake the injury bug that’s slowed him since arriving in Winston-Salem.

Watch Out For … the competition to be opened back up in August. While Jones may have an edge, his spot on the depth chart has hardly been etched in stone. A big reason for his advantage was that he was more durable, meaning a healthy Cross or Stachitas is capable of mounting a serious challenge.
Strength: Athleticism. With Skinner behind center, Wake was dragged into more of a pro-style offense against its liking. With athletes, such as Jones, Cross, and Stachitas, the Deacons will be able to revert back to more of an option base that Jim Grobe favors. Jones, in particular, has dynamic speed and escapability.
Weakness: Experience. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but when no quarterback has handled game snaps at this level, inconsistency is likely to ensue. The Demon Deacons haven’t even settled on a hurler, which means the development of a leader and timing in the passing game could take all year to develop.
Outlook: You knew this day would come. Unfortunately for Wake Forest, it doesn’t have a single quarterback who even earned mop-up duty in the last couple of seasons. Jones has the lead, but if he can’t step up his game as a passer, Cross and Stachitas will be nipping at his heels throughout the season.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Senior Josh Adams has one more season left in a career that’s sort of gone sideways after beginning with so much promise. Sure, he led the team with 541 yards and four touchdowns on 113 carries, but nagging injuries have prevented him from having a breakthrough season. The 2007 ACC Rookie of the Year, he’s a 6-0, 182-pound slasher, with the vision to dart in and out of traffic and make defenders miss. He’s also an accomplished receiver out of the backfield, catching a career-high 28 passes for 307 yards.

With Mike Rinfrette out of eligibility, 6-2, 240-pound sophomore Tommy Bohanon is set to take over at fullback. Not quite the pile-driving blocker that Rinfrette was in Winston-Salem, he’s more of a running option between the tackles, slipping through tight spaces in a north-south fashion. After earning 16 carries for 51 yards as a rookie, he figures to be an interesting change-of-pace and short yardage back.

Projected Top Reserves: Adams’ caddy will once again be 5-9, 200-pound junior Brandon Pendergrass, who has played a lot of football in his first two seasons. After rushing for 528 yards and five touchdowns in his debut, he finished second on the team with 399 yards and a score on 83 carries. Mixing a low center of gravity with great speed, he’s tough to hit squarely and even tougher to take down in the open field.

With Adams and Pendergrass a solid No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, junior Willie Dixon is only going to get carries in blowouts or in the event of an emergency. Surprisingly fast for a 5-11, 220-pound bull, he can do a lot of damage in short yardage, especially when he’s able to get a head of steam.

Watch Out For … the health of Adams. With proper support from the line, he’s a 1,000-yard rusher and an all-star candidate. However, he’s also somewhat frail and lacks durability, which has been his biggest roadblock to success over the last couple of years.
Strength: Speed. In Adams and Pendergrass, the Deacons have multiple backs capable of hitting the hole, getting a timely downfield block from a receiver, and jetting for six. Both have next-level speed, which the offense will look to leverage a little better this season.
Weakness: Big plays. Yeah, it’s nice to have the explosiveness to deliver game-breaking plays, but it’s another thing entirely to actually deliver them. Adams and Pendergrass had 232 combined touches in 2009, but only three went for at least 35 yards, a trend the program is aiming to change this fall.
Outlook: Wake Forest has one of the best one-two punches at running back in the ACC. It’s up to Adams and Pendergrass to go out and prove it in 2010. With enough touches, both have the talent to go for at least 750 yards in an offense going back to its roots as a ground-oriented attack.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: QB Riley Skinner may be gone, but last year’s top three pass-catchers return, providing hope for the passing game. Junior Devon Brown is about to become this season’s edition of former do-it-all Deacon Kenny Moore, catching passes out of the slot and taking pitches out of option formations. Showing tremendous speed, vision, and elusiveness as a first-time regular, he caught a team-high 61 passes for 671 yards and six touchdowns, adding 36 carries for 150 yards and another score. A multi-dimensional weapon, he’ll get a chance for a starring role this fall.

The team’s other starting receiver on the outside figures to be 6-1, 185-pound senior Marshall Williams , a proven playmaker on the outside over the last two seasons. He really stepped up when the team needed a starter in 2009, making 60 receptions for 867 yards and six touchdowns. A long and lean athlete, he has the stride and the burst to get behind the secondary, working hard to become a more complete and sure-handed receiver.

After scratching the surface of his potential 6-5, 225-pound junior Andrew Parker is looking to break out as the team’s starting tight end. He played plenty a year ago, but was underutilized in the passing game, making just nine catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns. A big target, with a sizable catch radius, he’s capable of finding the soft spot underneath or occasionally splitting the seam and getting the best of a linebacker.

Projected Top Reserves: Behind Brown in the slot is 6-0, 200-pound sophomore Chris Givens, the best confluence of size and speed on this unit. He has the strength to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage, yet also possesses the track speed to take a short pass and transform it into a huge gainer. Despite starting just a couple of games, he still wound up with 45 catches for 629 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns.

Behind Williams is another senior, 6-3, 200-pound Jordan Williams. While not in line for a starting assignment, he’s a luxury to have a on the second team, a big and physical veteran with a lot of experience over the past four seasons. In 2009, he caught 14 balls for 112 yards and two touchdowns and has the frame to be a capable downfield blocker.

Watch Out For … Brown to be an all-purpose dynamo in this offense. Much more than a receiver, he’s the playmaker who forces a staff to concoct new ways to get the ball in his hands. Whether it’s a pass, a pitch or a direct snap, if it’ll get him in space, the coaches are going to consider it.
Strength: Depth of talent. Not only are both starters all-star caliber with proper support from the new quarterback, but both primary backups would start for a bunch of schools. Even beyond the two-deep, the Deacons harbor veterans capable of stepping into the huddle if needed.
Weakness: Consistency. The receivers can be exciting, but they can also be maddeningly inconsistent at times. While upperclassmen dominate the two-deep, this is still largely a group that didn’t begin to flourish until last season. Smoothing out the wrinkles and adapting to a more run-oriented attack will be keys in 2010.
Outlook: Rarely a breeding ground for playmakers at this spot on the field, Wake Forest could roll out its best collection of wide receivers in school history. It’s a dynamic and speedy group that can do a lot of different things with the ball in its hands. The task for the staff will be to maximize the receivers’ talents and put them in positions to make plays.
Unit Rating: 8

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: With three starters missing from a unit that was already shaky, the line could be the most heavily scrutinized area of the offseason. The new front man of a very young front wall will be 6-4, 295-pound senior C Russell Nenon , a rock on the interior and a third-year starter. He has all the tools coaches desire in a center, getting into defenders quickly and showing leadership to the rest of the group. After missing the spring to recover from shoulder surgery, he’s expected back at 100% by the time camp opens in August.

The next best thing up front for Wake is 6-3, 295-pound junior Joe Looney , who’s about to become a fixture at left guard. One of the program’s top recruits from 2008, he started all but one game last season, laying the ground floor for what’s going to be a solid career. He’s physical at the point of contact and moves very well for his size, getting out to the second level and looking for someone to annihilate.

The new favorite to join Looney on the left side is 6-7, 285-pound redshirt freshman Steven Chase , who emerged during spring at left tackle. The strangest aspect of his ascent is that not long ago, he was playing on the defensive line. However, he’s adapted quickly to this size of the ball, showing the long arms and light feet to eventually develop into an offensive backside protector.

The team’s other veteran up front is 6-8, 295-pound junior Doug Weaver, who’s slated to be at right tackle on opening day. Lettering in each of the last two seasons, he played in all 12 games in 2009, but was unable to crack the lineup. That’ll change this fall, as he’s being asked to use his size and reach to keep the pocket from being compromised.

At right guard, 6-3, 315-pound sophomore Gabe Irby is prepping for his first action as a Demon Deacon. Best suited for a phone booth, where his average athleticism and footwork can’t be exposed, he’s extremely strong and most effective when locking on to a defender and driving him back off the ball.

Projected Top Reserves: Assuming he can’t crack the starting lineup, junior Dennis Godfrey will be the veteran among the backups. He played in the first six games of 2009 season before being lost for the year and not getting back on the field until the spring. At 6-3 and 335 pounds, he’s built more like a road-grading guard, but will back up Chase at left tackle for now.

If Irby slips from his right guard perch, 6-6, 295-pound junior Michael Hoag is going to be the beneficiary. He played in all 12 games a year on special teams and offense, and has the upper body strength to move a pile on running downs. He’s close enough to mount a challenge for the top spot in the summer.

Watch Out For … Looney to take another step toward being an All-ACC blocker. He plays at a different level than those around him, using his intensity and upper body strength to manhandle many defenders. He arrived with a different attitude in the offseason and is prepared to be one of the emotional and physical leaders of this group.
Strength: The interior. When Wake Forest lines up Nenon, Looney, and Irby, it’s going to have a chance to bully opponents on running plays. The trio is powerful at the point of contact, and uses its hands to control defenders and give the backs enough time to squirt into daylight.
Weakness: The tackles. Pass protection off the edge could be a concern all season for the Demon Deacons. On the left side, Chase is a redshirt freshman making the switch from defense. On the right side, Weaver has been a journeyman up to this point. Factor in the youth at quarterback, and the pocket could be a playground for opposing defenses in 2010.
Outlook: For a program that traditionally does a fantastic job of coaching up blockers, the last few seasons have been lean ones. The line play has been average, a trend that’s likely to continue this fall. While Nenon and Looney form a nice interior foundation, the tackles will struggle and depth is a nagging problem that shows no sign of going away.
Unit Rating: 6.5  

- 2010 Wake Forest Preview | 2010 Wake Forest Offense
- 2010 Wake Forest Defense | 2010 Wake Forest Depth Chart
- Wake Forest Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006