We will be bringing you Q and A’s with (hopefully) all of the Wake Forest opponents for the 2017 football season.
Today we will start with the first team on the schedule in the Presbyterian Blue Hose. With the lack of blogs/coverage for Presbyterian, I reached out to Davis Simpson, the Assistant Director of Sports Information/New Media Manager) at Presbyterian. He was kind enough to answer the questions I provided.
Due to his role with Presbyterian, I gave him an out in predicting a record and instead just asked for an overall assessment of the team.
Thanks to Davis for taking time out of his day to answer these question!
1. A lot of Wake fans are unfamiliar with Presbyterian. What are the expectations of the fan base year in and year out in football at the FCS level for the Blue Hose?
We began the transition to Division I in 2007 and just completed that transition in 2011, so we are still fairly new to FCS football compared with a lot of the schools in our area, even though we have had football since 1913. I think our expectations have not been overly high since we went D1, especially considering that we are the smallest school (enrollment just around 1,000 students) at the FCS level. Our best year in Division I came in 2014 when we went 6-5.
We have a "new" head coach this year, Tommy Spangler, who has been our defensive coordinator since 2013 but was previously head coach at PC prior to the transition to Division I from 2001-06. Spangler had success at PC last time (42-24 in five seasons) so I think him retaking the reigns of the program has raised the expectations a little bit.
Ultimately, I think our fans expect us to be competitive and we have been at times but not with a great deal of consistency since we moved up.
2. In a bit of an odd situation, Presbyterian "re-hired" a coach who has already had a lot of success at the school. What led to the hiring of Tommy Spangler again, and how has the football landscape changed at Presbyterian since he was last head coach?
Spangler is popular with long-time PC fans due to the success that he had before and I think that played a large role in him being re-hired as you put it. With the struggles the last couple of seasons in particular, there has been some negativity from fans surrounding the program and I think our AD at the time (who has since left for another AD job) saw it as opportunity to unite the fans behind someone that they all seem to support. Plus, it certainly didn't hurt that he had the success he had (won a conference championship in 2005, PC's last one to date) even if it was at the D2 level.
I think he felt that Spangler was well equipped to win at PC and had a good understanding of the challenges at such a small school. Having only been at PC for two years it is hard me to really speak to how the football landscape at PC has changed but I would imagine the transition to Division I has obviously played a large role in that. New opponents, new conference and the end of PC's long-standing rivalry with Newberry (known as the Bronze Derby) have all been a part of that transition so moving to D1 has certainly had the most impact on the football landscape here in that time.
3. To sugarcoat things a bit, the offense was less than stellar last year, what can Wake fans expect to see from a scheme viewpoint from Spangler and the Blue Hose on opening night?
I think you will see a similar offensive scheme from the past few seasons with a primarily spread style offense. The offense returns seven starters from a year ago but really brings back about 10-12 guys that saw significant time so this looks to be a more much experienced group than the previous two seasons. We struggled on the ground last season and our starting running back from the past two seasons graduated (and will play his final season of eligibility at Chattanooga) so we are very inexperienced at running back. Thus, I would expect to see us throw the ball more, as we did last season.
4. Since Coach Spangler was the DC last season, will the defense have the same look as the past few years, or will new DC Mitch Doolittle have a completely different scheme?
Defense should have the same look as it has with Spangler as defensive coordinator and I expect he will still play a large role in coaching the defense.
5. What are the goals for this season overall?
Spangler's focus since taking over has been all about improving and developing as players and as a team. I think goals for this season are to do just that, improve and continue to develop and be competitive. Predictions are tough, especially considering the coaching change, and with the home heavy schedule (seven home games) PC could steal a game here or there, but we play five teams that made the FCS playoffs (not to mention playing FBS Wake obviously), which puts us up against one of the toughest schedules in FCS football this year.