Deacons Hold First Practice of 2011
Aug. 6, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe put the Demon Deacons through their first practice of the 2011 season on Saturday morning at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex. The Deacons were on the field for a little over two hours wearing shorts, jerseys and helmets as the squad gets acclimated to the August heat. Wake Forest practiced under overcast skies with high humidity.
During practice, Grobe took time out to speak with a number of media members who were in attendance and talked about Wake Forest's offense this season.
"I think staying healthy will be a key for us this year," said Grobe as he addressed the offensive line. "Dennis Godfrey was banged up a little bit last year and Russ Nenon broke his hand early in the season. I think we've got four pretty crusty vets who have been around for a while. We hope they'll play really, really good. I like what Garrick Williams did this spring at center. We've got some guys who can play. Our issue between now and Syracuse is finding depth. Do we have three guards, do we have three tackles, can we get a dependable backup center for Garrick? Or, can somebody beat these guys out. We want to be competitive but I think finding some depth will be the issue. You know in the trenches you're going to get banged up from time to time."
Grobe was asked about Wake Forest's running game and could the Deacons return to the form that saw Wake lead the ACC in rushing in four of his first five seasons.
"We had some guys up front like Tyson Clabo who were pushing people out of the way. We had some pretty good people up front. We've had some great ones like (Steve) Justice and (Steve) Vallos. But the point is it does start up front and I don't think we've been the kind of offensive line for the past couple of years that we've been accustomed to. This could be the year where we go back to being a good running football team. That's a real key for us. People always talk about Tanner Price at quarterback. But when you're able to run the football it makes everybody else better."
Part of the reason for moving to more of a passing game was the emergence of Riley Skinner as Wake Forest's quarterback in 2006.
"Riley was more comfortable in the shotgun so we weren't under center," said Grobe. "When James MacPherson was here we were a lot more under center because we had Ovie (Mughelli) at fullback and he was out there vaporizing everybody blocking him and it made it easier for Tarence Williams to run the ball when he's running behind Ovie Mugheli.
"We're going to try and mix in a little option this year. We're not going to ask Tanner to run a lot of option but if Ted (Stachitas) was out there we might ask him to run a lot of option. That loosens things up when you're in the shot gun but we haven't been able to do that for a couple of years now. I think we have become more of a throw football team and we will continue to throw the football but if we can develop our running game, it helps the throwing game."
Part of the key to a successful running game is having a strong fullback and Grobe thinks the Deacons have a solid one in Tommy Bohanon.
"Tommy (Bohanon) has a chance to have a good year," said Grobe. "I really liked him this spring. We thought early that he would be more of a factor but he's been a little bit banged up. I think he had a really good spring and I've got a feeling that he can do some of the things that some of our old fullbacks used to do. He's got the ability to run the football pretty well which is an advantage. That's what Richard Belton did so well. Richard probably wasn't the most physical blocker but was a really gifted runner and the combination was pretty good for us. Tommy's a little more physical than Richard but probably not quite the running ability but the combination is really good."
As for Wake's offensive formations, Grobe expects the Deacons to continue to have multiple looks.
"I think you'll probably see us more in the gun than anything else," said Grobe. "We haven't given up on being under center but what you'll see is a lot of two-back offense. We'll have a fullback and tailback in the game a lot, they'll just be in split backs rather than the I. The thing that I think we'll do and it's one thing that I like about who we are right now is we feel like we have a good group of tight ends. We feel like we have a couple of pretty good fullbacks and two or three tailbacks who have the ability to play. And a good group of wide receivers. What that means is that we can be very flexible in our formations. If the receivers step up, we'll put more receivers on the field. If the running backs step up, we'll try to keep two backs on the field. If our tight ends are playing real well, we may go with two tight ends. It's going to make it really competitive. You're going to have to earn snaps and whatever position groups are playing the best, those are the guys who will cause our thinking to be the kind of set that will get them on the field."
Wake Forest will take Sunday off and return to the practice field at 7:45 p.m. on Monday. The Deacons will practice at 7:45 p.m. through Wednesday night and then practice at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 11.
The Deacons open the season on Thursday, September 1 at Syracuse.