Football Prepares For Northern Illinois
Sept. 11, 2001
Winston-Salem, N.C. -
WAKE FOREST FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES
Wake Forest (2-0) vs. Northern Illinois (1-1)
Kickoff: 6:38 p.m.
Site: Groves Stadium (31,500), Winston-Salem, NC
Radio: The Wake Forest ISP Sports Network, heard on 18 stations in North Carolina and Virginia. Full station listing is on page five of this package. Voice of the Deacons Stan Cotten calls the play-by-play. Former Deacs Ed Bradley and Mike Pratapas serve as color analysts.
On the Web: The radio broadcast can be heard live over the internet via WFU's homepage: www.wakeforestsports.com
The Series: Saturday's game marks the first meeting between WFU and Northern Illinois.
The Rankings: Neither team is ranked.
The Coaches: Wake Forest's Jim Grobe is 2-0 as the Deacons' head coach with wins over East Carolina and Appalachian State. His career record now stands at 35-33-1 in his seventh season as a head coach.
Northern Illinois coach Joe Novak is 15-42 in his sixth season as a head coach, all with the Huskies.
Tickets: Tickets are available by contacting the WFU ticket office at 336-758-3322.
Officials: Announced on game day.
DEACONS, 2-0, host Northern Illinois on Saturday
Wake Forest is 2-0 this season after winning its season opener on the road at East Carolina, 21-19, and downing Appalachian State, 20-10, in the home opener on September 8.
Saturday's game marks the first-ever meeting with Northern Illinois, a Mid-American conference team who is currently 1-1 on the season.
APP STATE recap
In the third period, quarterback Anthony Young engineered a 13-play, 90-yard drive, capping it off with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Fabian Davis to give WFU a 13-10 lead. The Deacon defense returned the ball to the offense just 38 seconds later, as linebacker Dion Williams recovered a fumble at the ASU 23. This time it was James MacPherson directing the Deacs, as John Stone rushed for the endzone from eight yards out for the TD.
With WFU holding on to its 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Mountaineer Remi Awolowo forced a Young fumble and returned it 46 yards to the Wake 24. Costly penalties hurt the App State cause as it was unable to capitalize on the turnover. (ASU finished the game with 10 penalties for 91 yards.) Wake Forest got the ball back with just under four minutes and was able to run out the clock for the 20-10 win, its largest margin of victory over the Mountaineers since a 20-3 win in 1993.
On offense, starters return at every position but one along the line. Four experienced linemen, including All-ACC candidates Vince Azzolina and Michael Collins, return to the trenches this season, with some slight shifts in positions. The changes have been effective, as Deacon backs have piled up nearly 500 yards of rushing and WFU QBs have been sacked just twice over the first two games.
At quarterback, the battle for the starting job has picked up where it left off between junior James MacPherson and sophomore Anthony Young. The two continue to split playing time as they did in 2000 after the season-ending injury to starter C.J. Leak in the third game of the year. While Young has actually started both games so far this season, the two alternate nearly every series.
The Deacs return speed at wide receiver, although the position has been somewhat depleted in the preseason with an injury to senior Ira Williams. Williams broke a bone in his right foot during a summer workout and has not returned to action yet. Senior John Stone and junior Fabian Davis lead the receiving corps in terms of experience and catches, but junior Jax Landfried and redshirt freshman Jason Anderson have been impressive, as the underclassmen duo were Wake's top receivers at ECU. Landfried caught the game-winning touchdown pass against the Pirates, hauling in a 44-yarder from Young.
Junior veterans Ovie Mughelli at fullback and Tarence Williams at running back provide leadership in the Deacon backfield as both return to their starting roles in 2001. Williams has picked up where he left off in 2000, rushing for over 100 yards in the first two games of the season. Mughelli has not carried the ball in 2001, but switches between the fullback and tight end spots as a key blocker. Sophomore Fred Staton is starting to make an impact after returning to game shape (he arrived at preseason camp overweight), and is second on the squad with 51 yards a game.
Wake's defense, now settled in its new 3-4 lineup, boasts talent and experience, including senior Nate Bolling and junior Calvin Pace at the ends, with junior Montique Sharpe at nose tackle. All three have created or recovered fumbles through two games this season.
Two veterans - Ed Kargbo-Okorogie and Marquis Hopkins - lead the linebacking corps. Hopkins posted a team high 100 tackles last season, and again leads the Deacs in 2001 with 20 stops. Kargbo-Okorogie recorded the first interception of the 2001 season, picking off a David Garrard pass at ECU. At outside linebacker, redshirt freshman Mike Hamlar earned his first career start against the Pirates, and a week later recorded his first interception against ASU, while Kellen Brantley has tallied 15 tackles in two games at the other inside spot.
A host of young players make up the Deacon secondary, led by lone senior Adrian Duncan, who switched from corner to safety. Returning starter Quintin Williams returns to his post at corner and has already recorded his third career interception (versus ASU). A number of underclassmen will challenge for playing time at all four spots. Redshirt freshman Marcus McGruder has stood out in the early goings, as he intercepted a pass and recorded a sack at ECU.
Placekicker Tyler Ashe returns to his role for the second straight year, and will also handle kickoffs for the fourth season. Wake Forest has used two punters in two games, as sophomore walk-on Chris Rolle handled the duties at ECU and James McPherson punted versus Appalachian State.
Last Saturday, NIU faced Illinois on the road, falling 17-12. Quarterback Chris Finlen threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to receiver Darrell Hill with 1:12 remaining, but the two-point attempt failed, squelching the possibility of a second straight comeback.
Under sixth-year head coach Joe Novak, Northern Illinois returns 39 lettermen and 13 starters (7 offense, 4 defense) from a team that went 6-5 a year ago, its first winning campaign in 10 seasons. The Huskie lineup is a young group, with seven underclassmen on offense and nine on defense listed as starters.
Finlen, a senior and three-year starter at the QB spot, has passed for 4,800 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career. His favorite target so far this season has been junior split end P.J. Fleck, who has 132 yards on 14 receptions through two games. Junior tailback Thomas Hammock is the No. 6 returning rusher in the country in 2001, and has already compiled 288 yards on the ground so far this season. Junior linebacker Larry Williams owns a a team-high 23 tackles this season, including four tackles for loss and a sack. Placekicker Azar is the team's leading scorer, booting 4-of-8 field goals and two PATs (14 points), while punter Jimmy Erwin is averaging 31.8 yards per punt with a long kick of 58 yards this season.
MORE NOTES from the ASU game
Two-and-0 in First Deacon Season
1910 Reddy Rowe def. Warrenton Prep, 17-0 def. Horner, 28-0 1926 James Baldwin def. North Carolina, 13-0 def. Wofford, 27-0 1951 Tom Rogers def. Boston College, 20-6 def. NC State, 21-6 1964 Bill Tate def. Virginia, 31-21 def. Virginia Tech, 38-21 1987 Bill Dooley def. Richmond, 24-0 def. NC State, 21-3 2001 Jim Grobe def. East Carolina, 21-19 def. Appalachian State, 20-10
IRA WILLIAMS questionable for action
Williams also missed part of spring drills with a broken finger. The 6-2, 207-pound senior caught a team-high 45 passes last season for 495 yards. Entering the 2001 campaign, Williams was the second-leading returning receiver in the ACC in receptions per game.
ON THIS DATE in WFU history
NORTHERN ILLINOIS connections
First Meeting versus the MAC
The Atlantic Coast Conference goes head-to-head with the MAC three times in 2001. Prior to Wake Forest's meeting with Northern Illinois on Saturday, NC State hosts Jim Grobe's former team, Ohio University, on Thursday, Sept. 13. Last Saturday, Maryland demolished Eastern Michigan, 50-3.
MacPHERSON joins elite group
Wake's all-time leader in passing yards is Brian Kuklick, who threw for 8,017 yards from 1994-98.
MacPherson's completion percentage of 54.8 also ranks fifth all-time among Deacon signal-callers.
Through 2 Games 2000 2001 Won-Lost 0-2 2-0 Points 30 41 Points Allowed 55 29 Total Offense 171.5 417.0 Rushing Yards 26.5 249.5 Passing Yards 145.0 167.5 Passes Intercepted 1.0 0.0 Third Downs 5-29 14-32 Turnovers 2.5 2.0 Rushing Yards Allowed 138.0 110.0 Passing Yards Allowed 214.5 178.0 Total Defense 352.5 288.0
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