Casual Wake Forest fans could be forgiven for bemoaning the lack of offensive prowess shown in Saturday's annual spring game at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem. After all, the Deacon offense managed just 8 first downs and turned the ball over 5 times as Wake Forest Black (offense) defeated Wake Forest White (defense) by a score of 3-0. The lone points on the afternoon were provided by the foot of placekicker Chad Hedlund, who booted a 39-yard field goal on his only attempt.
One explanation for the anemic Deacon offense was that, well, it wasn't really the Wake Forest offense. The faces and numbers were largely familiar to fans, as were the play calls (and their results), but there was a good reason.
Jim Grobe announced earlier this year that the Demon Deacons would be returning to more of an option-based attack after running a pass-heavy attack for the past few seasons. The decision to make use of an athletic quarterback corps should take some pressure off of Deacon receivers like Michael Campanaro, who routinely saw double-teams from opposing defenses. Offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke expounded on transitioning to a ground attack:
While some in attendance surely expected to see a taste of the new-look offense, the Wake Forest coaching staff is probably (and rightfully) reluctant to give Presbyterian and Boston College (their first two opponents this Fall) any film to study. So, in it's place the assembled masses got...something else.
Lost in the grumbling surrounding the lack offense was the play of a defense that seems to have a new-found excitement and chemistry. Ryan Janvion continued where he left off after the second spring scrimmage, picking off one errant pass and recovering a fumble forced by fellow DB Kevin Johnson. Four Deacs joined Janvion in Saturday's interception-fest, including Hunter Williams, Merrill Noel and A.J. Marshall. Asked about the defense's play this spring, senior nose guard Nikita Whitlock was blunt in his assessment:
In all, occupants of the Wake Forest football offices should be pleased with what the gridiron Deacs were able to accomplish this spring. The nervous buzz surrounding the departure of key position coaches was replaced by an excitement surrounding the hiring of Taylor Stubblefield, Warren Belin and Derrick Jackson's move to the secondary. To a man, the Deacs I talked to on Saturday attributed a lot of the team's energy to their new coaches (some funnier than others- more on that this week).
Perhaps the best thing gleaned from this year's spring practice was no major injuries. The Deacons' challenge to create depth, year in and year out, is a very real one. Injuries are obvious stumbling blocks to all programs. A rash of injuries to a school the size of Wake Forest is a disaster (see: season, 2012).
Blogger So Dear will be posting more video obtained post-game throughout the week. Follow @bloggersodear and @jp_mundy to make sure you get the latest updates.