The Deacs are headed out to the Lone Star State this week to do battle with the Rice Owls on Friday at 8pm. Last year, Wake won this matchup easily, taking a 42-3 lead into the half before finally beating Rice by a final score of 56-24. Of course, that means absolutely nothing now, as it’s a new year and we can’t carry over any of those points. While I don’t think the Deacs will have any trouble with the Owls, here are a couple of players that could make things difficult.
Offense: Nahshon Ellerbe | RS Sr. HB | #9
If last week is any indication, the Deacs are going to see a large number of runs in this one. In their first game of the season against Army, Rice only threw the ball 14 times, completing just half of those attempts for 62 yards. For comparison, the Black Knights, who are notorious for basically never passing the ball, finished the game with 53 passing yards. As Bart pointed out in his review of the Rice offense, the bright spot for Rice last week was RB Nahshon Ellerbe, who finished the game with 11 carries for 103 yards (11.4 ypc) and the only Rice touchdown on a 54 yard run. Ellerbe, a redshirt Senior from Frisco, Texas, was Rice’s leading rusher in 2017 before being limited last season due to injury. He only played in 3 games and finished the season with 4 carries for just 4 yards. He appears to be healthy now, as his 103 yards accounted for 42% of the Owls’ total offense against Army. The Wake Forest defense gave up runs of 59 yards and 43 yards in the season opener against Utah State, so keeping Ellerbe from breaking off big gains should be a priority in this one.
Defense: Antonio Montero | Soph. LB | #1
Antonio Montero is a run stopping linebacker from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who finished his freshman year with 34 total tackles and 1 interception. In his first game as a sophomore, he has already recorded 11 total tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Last week against the Aggies, we saw a linebacker have an absolute monster of a game, wracking up 24 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack (and a fumble recovery for a touchdown if not for a defensive holding call). While he may not be on the same level as David Woodward (I doubt we will see another LB this year who is), Montero has the ability to cause a lot of havoc for an offense by penetrating into the backfield and never giving up on a play.