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Deacon defense shines in first spring scrimmage

Kevin Johnson's interception highlights a banner day for the Wake Forest defense, as the Deacons focus on creating turnovers.

Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price
Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price
Streeter Lecka

Brandon Terry caught a 44-yard pass from Patrick Thompson for the only touchdown of Wake Forest's first scrimmage of the spring practice season at BB&T Field on Saturday. The real highlight of the late morning session, however, was the play of the defense, which consistently played with energy and swarmed to the ball.

"It's the best day the defense has had since we've been in Spring ball," Coach Jim Grobe said. "I thought our defense showed up with a little bit of an attitude. Honestly, the offense has gotten a little bit of the defense first few practices and I thought today the defense bowed their neck a little bit."

The aggressive play of the defensive was punctuated by Kevin Johnson's leaping interception of a Tanner Price pass. Grobe noted that a point of emphasis during practice has been getting to the ball and creating turnovers.

"If you look at our best football teams, our best football teams have defensively been really good at turning the ball over, forcing turnovers," he said. "Our best defenses have been when we've had 30-plus turnovers in a season.The thing we've tried to stress to the kids is that the best way to get turnovers is to have a lot of guys at the football.

The Wake Forest ground attack was largely stagnant during the scrimmage, due in part to improved defense and a three-day layoff from practice. Grobe has acknowledged in previous interviews that the offense will return to more of an option look in order to take some pressure off Price, who was overwhelmed by blitzing defenses for the bulk of last season.

"I expected the offense to be a little ragged," Grobe said. "The last practice we had was Tuesday. The layoff certainly wasn't good for the execution of the offense, but I thought the fun thing for me was to see the defense start having some success."

Despite the shaky practice, Price was optimistic about the switch to more of an option-based attack.

"I think we'll be really successful with this stuff," Price said. "I think it will open up a lot of the pass plays. It's going to be really tough for the defenses to cover what we're doing in the run game.Last year, defenses were either dropping eight a lot and just protecting the pass, or they were bringing the house. Being able to prevent that is going to be huge for the passing game."

The Deacons are scheduled to scrimmage again at BB&T Field on Saturday morning (approximately 10:00 a.m.). The annual Spring Game will be held April 20 at the stadium with kickoff set for 1:00 p.m.