Wake Forest rushing to find offense in 2013

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Just how important are the running backs to the Demon Deacons' success in the 2013 season?

Fans of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons hit their respective pillows the night of November 3, 2012 with visions of another bowl bid dancing (okay, maybe just sitting around playing cards) in their heads. After all, the Deacs had just dispatched Boston College, 28-14, leaving Wake Forest with 5-4 record with three games remaining on the schedule.

Granted, the next three opponents were not exactly pushovers: N.C. State, an athletic group with a veteran leader in Mike Glennon, Notre Dame and upstart Vanderbilt. Yes, Vanderbilt. However, a one in three chance to become bowl-eligible is better than none, and the Wolfpack and Commodores could (on paper) be had.

What happened next will take a while for fans of Wake Forest football to forget.

The Deacons gave up 130 points over the course of those last three games (55 of them to Vandy) and were completely blown out of football's postseason picture, leaving only a trail of injuries and divisiveness among the team. Fingers were pointed, rumors abounded – and that's before Jim Grobe and his staff could get back to the drawing board to figure out the football problems.

The numbers were ugly, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Deacons scored a paltry 18.5 points per game over a 12-game schedule, compared to 31.8 scored by their opponents. The Wake Forest rushing attack sputtered to accumulate just 1,206 yards with 15 touchdowns. That statistic is alarming, more so when one considers that Tanner Price threw for 2,300 yards and 12 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. In short, a change in strategy was needed.

Earlier this spring, coach Jim Grobe announced the Deacons will be moving to a more option-based attack in order to take some pressure off of Price. This will not be the first time in Grobe's tenure that Deacon fans will see an option look, as Wake Forest has utilized the option in the past. Benjamin Mauk was a talented athlete who was adept at running the option for Wake Forest before he was injured during the first game of the 2006 season. Mauk's injury forced a mad scramble to adjust the Wake Forest game plan to fit Riley Skinner, who by his own admission was not an option quarterback.

"I was not very good at it at all," Skinner said. "I think I tried to run the option twice and I fumbled twice. I don't think the transition is going to be as tough for him. You've got to rep it hundreds of times to make the decisions when the bullets are flying. It's not easy to do."

Wake Forest coaches and players alike believe a revamped running game featuring Price, Josh Harris and Deandre Martin will free up a talented (yet largely unproven) receiving corps led by Michael Campanaro and Orville Reynolds. Here are the comments from coach Steed Lobotzke following the 2013 spring scrimmage.

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