It. Is. Here.
Wake Forest begins the much-anticipated 2013 season at BB&T Field Thursday night against the Blue Hose from Presbyterian College (6:30 p.m., ESPN3). The two teams last met in 2010, a 53-13 Deacon rout highlighted by this trick play pulled by the visitors from Clinton, SC. Despite the lopsided result, senior flanker Michael Campanaro insisted the Deacons are not looking ahead to next week's showdown with Boston College.
Read BSD's Presbyterian preview HERE
"We're not looking past Presbyterian at all," Campanaro said. Coach has been stressing to us all week that we've got to take these guys seriously. They bring up that App State/Michigan game all the time. Even last year, we almost lost to Liberty."
Last year's nail-biting affair against Liberty still rings fresh in the minds of the Wake Forest veterans. When asked about the importance of winning big or just winning the opener, Campanaro was very candid about the expectations for this year's team.
"I think as a team our expectation this year is to win every game and win the ACC Championship," he said. "So, when you play a nonconference game you're expected to take care of business. We would be happy with a win but we think we're a better team this year and we should take care of business."
Campanaro has been nursing a sore hamstring but was adamant that he would play on Thursday.
"It's feeling good, just nagging," he said. "It's something annoying, but it's feeling good. I've been doing more and more each day. I'll be suited up and ready to go."
The 2013 Deacons are very much a Jim Grobe team, meaning it is chock full of seniors. Campanaro acknowledged that he felt their age and experience gave the Deacs a decided edge against other schools.
"It's huge because when you go up against some of the teams in the ACC that have maybe better recruits, that have younger guys starting...we're basically grown men out there playing," Campanaro said. "We're an older team, we've been through a lot and we have a lot of experience so I don't think really anything in a game is going to shake us or throw us off. It's good to have old teams. You always see old teams in championships."
This is a tightly knit senior group, all too aware that they have yet to leave their mark on Wake Forest football history. To ensure that their last go-round is a successful one, seniors gather regularly to discuss business.
"We have senior meetings each week," he said. "I talked about it this past week at the meeting, we haven't had a winning season since we've been here. We want to make this one special. We think we've got some making up to do for the last few years."
Grobe agreed, saying: "This has been a senior class that really wants to have a good team more than they want to have a good year individually, and that's always important."
Grobe smiled when told that senior defensive end Kris Redding said that getting bowl-eligible was just a bare minimum for this team's goals, but cautioned that a lot of work remained.
"I think we've got a chance to be a really good football team," Grobe said. "You can sit around dreaming about all the pie in the sky stuff, but you've got to go to work and go make it happen."
Odds and End-Arounds:
Campanaro told the assembled media that we would probably see all of the revamped offense, saying, "I don't think we're going to be hiding anything." Grobe was a little less candid but stated that he thought we would see a good chunk of the playbook against the Blue Hose.
A.J. Marshall may be a seasoned veteran, but he still gets butterflies before games:
"This is my last first game. I know I'll be nervous," he said. "I'm one of the most nervous guys on the team. I've been playing football all my life, but I still get nervous. I'm sure the jitters will be there but after I get that first little bit of contact I'll be fine."
Marshall believes the key to Thursday's game is playing disciplined Wake Forest football...and one other thing:
"If we play disciplined and play our game I feel like we'll be fine," he said. "And watch out for that bounce pass. I'm waiting for that bounce pass. You can't fool me twice."