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Tag:Michael Campanaro
Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:22 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Wake Forest



Posted by Chip Patterson


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Wake Forest.

Spring Practice Starts: TBD (March 1 and March 3 practices were delayed, March 6 is the next scheduled practice) 

Spring Game: April 14

Three Things To Look For:

1. Tanner Price finding new favorite target. One of the things that made Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price so successful in 2011 was his ability to distribute the ball from the spread and allow the skill position players to make plays in the open field. No player did so more prolifically than wide receiver Chris Givens, who led the ACC with 1,330 yards and totaled nine touchdowns before deciding to leave a year early for the NFL. The Demon Deacons return junior wideout Michael Campanaro - who racked up 833 receiving yards of his own - but will be looking for another player to step up as that second option in the spread attack. Head coach Jim Grobe has already singled out Terence Davis, a redshirt senior who has battled through injury during his first season's at Wake Forest, as one player expected to step up this season.

2. Replacing four starters on the offensive line. Wake Forest's biggest offensive concern heading into the year lies along the offensive line. The Demon Deacons aren't just replacing four starters, but three redshirt seniors and All-ACC second team guard Joe Looney. Center Garrick Williams is the only returning starter, and the coaches will be looking for some players to step up this spring. Grobe believes this is a talented and athletic group, but nearly every other position will be up for grabs this spring. Redshirt junior Steven Chase is one player to keep an eye on this spring. The 6-foot-7, 305 pound left tackle will be an important piece in establishing the line and pass protecting for Tanner Price.

3. Breaking in new faces on the coaching staff. Head coach Jim Grobe is one of the most tenured coaches in the ACC at his current post, and staff shakeups have not been normal since his arrival in Winston-Salem over a decade ago. The Demon Deacons entire 2012 with a pair of new hires, and some slight rearranging of the duties on the coaching staff. Jonathan Himebauch, of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, will coach the offensive line, allowing Steed Lebotzke to focus on his responsibilities as offensive coordinator. Derrick Jackson has also been brought on to assist with the outside linebackers, which should take some weight off of defensive coordinator Brian Knorr. Grobe feels confident these additions will be improvements, but spring practice will be crucial as the entire staff adjusts to the new responsibilities.  Steve Russ recently left Wake Forest to return to his alma mater Air Force, and the defensive back duties will reportedly be taken by soon-to-be hired Tim Duffie from Colorado State

Catch up on the rest of the ACC and BCS conferences at the Spring Practice Home

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 3:38 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 3:48 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 12



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: NC State's defense

It seemed like an impossible task for NC State fans to comprehend following the 14-10 loss to Boston College. Beat Clemson and Maryland to reach bowl eligibility for the second straight season. The same Clemson that clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title three weeks before the end of the season and ranked in the Top 10 of the BCS standings. But the Tigers' mortality was exposed by Terrell Manning and the NC State defense in a 37-13 conference beatdown on Saturday. The Wolfpack took note of Wake Forest's gameplan to frustrate and confuse quarterback Tajh Boyd with multiple looks, and executed the plan to perfection while quarterback Mike Glennon took advantage of fantastic field position to put the game out of reach before halftime. The defensive unit was led by an unbelievable effort from linebacker Manning, who recorded eight tackles, forced a fumble, and recovered another in an omnipresent showing for the Wolfpack. It would not be a solid NC State defensive performance without a mention of cornerback David Amerson, who tied the ACC single-season record for interceptions with his 11th pick in the second half. All around dominant performance by NC State, and the defense was the primary benefactor.

LOSER: Clemson's BCS bowl probability

The Tigers could afford to lose to NC State and still accomplish all of their goals for the season. After the loss to Georgia Tech knocked them from the national championship discussion, head coach Dabo Swinney reminded media members the goals were to a) win the ACC Coastal b) Win the state championship and c) win the ACC championship. With the division title locked up and the annual showdown with South Carolina a week away, Clemson could afford to lose this game and still win an ACC Championship. But with a Top 10 BCS ranking and many of the top teams losing in Week 12, the Tigers could have been in a position to earn an at-large BCS bid in the event they lose the Championship Game on Dec. 3. But with the embarrassing loss to NC State, Clemson's only chance to reach a BCS bowl likely will be to beat either Virginia or Virginia Tech to claim the ACC's bid to the Orange Bowl.

WINNER: Virginia Tech's ACC Dominance

The Hokies survived a late push from North Carolina on Thursday night to remain undefeated against division opponents with the 24-21 win. Virginia Tech's sixth straight conference win sets up a showdown with in-state rival Virginia next Saturday with a bid to the ACC Championship Game on the line. If the Hokies can knock off the surging Cavs it would be the fifth Coastal Division title in seven years for Frank Beamer, now the nation's winningest active coach. A spot in the ACC title game would not only give the 10-1 Hokies an outside shot at an at-large BCS bid, but it would allow Virginia Tech to seek revenge for the 23-3 loss to Clemson in early October. The Tigers have been reeling since that battle in Blacksburg, and the Hokies have improved dramatically since the setback. Wake Forest and NC State have exposed Clemson's weaknesses offensively, and you can bet Bud Foster will take note of the adjustments should the two teams meet against in Charlotte with an Orange Bowl bid on the line. Since joining the ACC, no team has dominated the league quite like Virginia Tech. It only seems appropriate that Clemson and/or Virginia have to pass through Beamer to reach ACC supremacy.

LOSER: North Carolina's bowl stock

While North Carolina was one of the first teams in the ACC to reach bowl eligibility with a 6-3 start, their stock in the conference pecking order has been on a downward spiral for the last month. The Tar Heels have lost four of their last five, with two losses decided by six points or less. As coaching rumors light up the message boards and blogosphere, interim head coach Everett Withers and the staff is trying to make the most of 2011. The Tar Heels have suffered several unforeseen setbacks, but Gio Bernard's exit from Thursday night's Virginia Tech game was one of the most costly losses of the season. Bernard is already the first North Carolina running back to break the 1,000 yard mark since Jonathan Linton accomplished the feat in 1997, and his absence was felt in the fourth quarter of Thursday's 24-21 loss as the Tar Heels fought to get back into the game. The redshirt freshman has played through hip and ankle injuries this season, but the head/neck diagnosis after a hard helmet-to-helmet hit ended Bernard's night. The Tar Heels still have their annual rivalry with Duke left on the schedule, and Tar Heel fans are hoping Bernard will be cleared to play. After seeing Duke's effort in the 38-31 loss to Georgia Tech, you can bet the Blue Devils will bring their best shot to Chapel HIll in an attempt to re-paint the Victory Bell.

WINNER: Al Golden

It was an ugly game filled with punts and penalties, but after getting 41 yard attempt tipped earlier Jake Wieclaw drilled the 36 yard field goal to win the game and make Miami bowl eligible. For first-year head coach Al Golden, bowl eligibility is a great accomplishment considering the setbacks and off-field distractions tied to the Nevin Shapiro investigation. Golden has overcome suspensions to key players, questions about his commitment to the job, and wildly inconsistent play from his team to get the Hurricanes to six wins. The heralded recruiting class of 2008, led by Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, among others, will get one final opportunity to suit up in Sun Life Stadium when the Hurricanes wrap up the regular season against Boston College on Friday. If you want to know what kind of impact Golden has had on this team in just one year, pay attention to the emotions of the seniors next weekend. Golden has credited them as being the leaders to buy in from day one, and I expect they will play inspired in possibly their final game. With NCAA sanctions almost certainly coming as a result of the Nevin Shapiro investigation, some have suggested the Hurricanes self-impose a bowl ban starting this season. The next several weeks will be interesting in Coral Gables, seeing how the school handles bowl eligibility, but at least they are in the position to have that option.

LOSER: Florida State's clock management

The Seminoles play-calling and execution on the final drive nearly cost them the game twice before Dustin Hopkins missed the potential game-winning 43-yard field goal. Florida State started at their own 40 yard line with two timeouts, but bled the clock and burned timeouts by keeping the ball in the middle of the field without getting first downs. Head coach Jimbo Fisher was bailed out first by a face mask call on fourth down and then by the video review of Bert Reed's completion/incompletion to give Hopkins a shot to win the game. Even with multiple opportunities, the Seminoles couldn't get over their own mistakes in a sloppy loss to Mike London's Cavaliers. While the Seminoles' defense stepped up to the challenge of shutting down Virginia's rushing attack, execution on both sides of the ball fell apart in the final minutes of the game.


WINNERS: Chris Givens

Somewhere lost in the madness of the upsets in Week 12 was Wake Forest turning around a 1-7 conference record into 5-3 and becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. Head coach Jim Grobe returned 17 starters from last season's squad, but few have been more important to 2011's success than Chris Givens. The junior wide receiver recorded season-highs in catches (8) and yards (191) in the Demon Deacons' 31-10 win over Maryland to wrap up the ACC schedule. The big day helped him break a 22-year old single season receiving record, set by Ricky Proehl in 1989. Givens has recorded triple-digit receiving performances seven times this season, teaming with Michael Campanaro as one of the most dangerous duos in the ACC. Wake Forest wraps up the regular season next week at home against Vanderbilt, but their final 5-3 conference record is quite the achievement for a team predicted to finish at the bottom of the conference.

LOSER: Year One in Randy Edsall's "dream job"

Maryland was Randy Edsall's "dream job," but the nightmare continues for the Terps after suffering their seventh straight loss to Wake Forest. Maryland hung with the Demon Deacons for a half, before Tanner Price began to pick apart the Terps' defense on the way to 24 second half points. Price finished the day with 320 yards passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions as Edsall was once again left with the difficult task of explaining what has happened to this team. The transition has been rocky, but I get the feeling we haven't seen the worst of it yet as reports of transfers and more locker room dissension continue to grow out of College Park.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 3:46 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 9 Clemson 31, Wake Forest 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. With the ACC Atlantic Division on the line, the Tigers overcame a 14 point third quarter deficit to knock Wake Forest off in the final seconds and win 31-28. After missing a 30-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro lined up a 43-yard try and nailed it as time expired. The win clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title for Clemson, who will face the winner of the Coastal (either Virginia Tech or Virginia) in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3.

HOW CLEMSON WON: Wake Forest stunned the Tigers in the second half with three touchdowns in a five minute span, jumping out to a 28-14 lead. But Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington overcame early turnovers to help lead the Tigers down the field and back into the game late. The Tigers were able to get the offense going despite losing Sammy Watkins to an "upper extremity injury" in the third quarter. Boyd finished the game with 343 yards passing, looking to receivers like Jaron Brown and Brandon Ford to step up in Watkins' absence. The depth of skill position players helped keep the Tigers' offense humming, and the defensive line picked the right time to get pressure on Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: After trailing by two touchdowns, the Tigers didn't get to enjoy success until the clock hit zero as Catanzaro's kick sailed through the uprights. The comeback wasn't pretty, but credit Tajh Boyd and a gang of unheralded receivers for putting them in the position to win the game late.

WHAT CLEMSON WON: A trip to Charlotte to compete for the ACC Championship. The Tigers had their national championship hopes dashed by Georgia Tech two weeks ago, but they can still find their way to a BCS bowl with a conference title. Clemson's division title is their second in three years, as they strive to capture their first league championship since 1991.

WHAT WAKE FOREST LOST: The chance to steal the ACC Atlantic Division from Clemson. The Demon Deacons needed wins over Clemson and Maryland to claim the division, and with a 28-14 lead in the third quarter it looked likely. Wake Forest already stunned Florida State, and knocking off the Tigers would have added to a memorable season for a team picked to finish last in the ACC. The next goal for Jim Grobe's squad is bowl eligibility, as the Demon Deacons need one more win to make the postseason.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has had a memorable first season with the Tigers, and Saturday he broke the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Watkins currently has 1,035 receiving yards, but his future may be in jeopardy after leaving the game with an "upper extremity injury." Watkins appeared to injure his shoulder/ribs, and did not return to the game. The true freshman has been electrifying this season, and a big part of the Tigers' success. If he's out, it is a huge blow to Clemson's offense.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Wake Forest at Clemson

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: The defense can play disciplined on the perimeter. Clemson's offense should be back on track with Andre Ellington back in the lineup, but Wake Forest has every ability to hang with the Tigers in the event of a shootout. Clemson's defense will be looking to rebound after the Georgia Tech loss, and the Demon Deacons present a similar threat with their spread misdirection attack. Wake uses several different screens and bubble plays to give playmakers like Chris Givens the space to break the big one. If the Tigers play disciplined and keep Wake Forest from hitting the home run the offense should be able to take care of the rest.

WAKE FOREST WILL WIN IF: The offense can sustain long scoring drives. Wake Forest's defense is undersized and outmatched against Chad Morris' high-powered attack, but Tanner Price can help neutralize that advantage by orchestrating long, time-consuming drives that end in touchdowns. Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Harris will need to find seams in defense on the ground to create offensive balance, but there are enough short yardage plays for the Demon Deacons to do some damage with proper execution.

X-FACTOR: Trick plays. Wake Forest has burned several opponents this year with halfback passes, wide receiver passes, reverses and flea flickers. Clemson has superior talent and athletes, but that does no good to defend a play you aren't prepared to face. The Tigers' defense must keep their head on a swivel at all times, and never let Givens or Campanaro get behind the safeties.

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Posted on: October 8, 2011 4:24 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Wake Forest 35, No. 23 FSU 30

Posted by Chip Patterson

WAKE FOREST WON. Even with an off-week to get healthy and prepare, the Seminoles were caught off guard on their road trip to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons rattled redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett, who was making his second career start, and built a lead that could not be overcome even with the return of EJ Manuel. Trickett threw two interceptions and fumbled once before being replaced by Manuel, who saw his first action since injuring his shoulder against Oklahoma. Tanner Price picked apart the Florida State back seven, completing 21 of 35 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, he threw no interceptions. Josh Harris also ran for 136 yards on 13 carries, with a highlight reel 57-yard scamper to set up Wake Forest's final touchdown.

HOW WAKE FOREST WON: Wake Forest's defense was relentless all afternoon. Whether the Florida State attack was led by Clint Trickett or EJ Manuel, the Demon Deacons were swarming to the ball and getting their hands in the air to force turnovers. Half of the four interceptions were a result of batted balls, and the awareness of the defense led to the momentum-swinging takeaways. Both teams were competitive statistically, but the turnover margin was the difference in this game and the reason Wake Forest found themselves victorious for the fourth game in a row.

WHEN WAKE FOREST WON: Florida State continued to push for four quarters, right up to the final touchdown with less than a minute remaining. But EJ Manuel's interception with 6:21 remaining as the Seminoles were driving down 11 brought FSU's turnover count for the game to "one too many to win."

WHAT WAKE FOREST WON: Belief that they can contend for an ACC title. The first two conference victories were against arguably inferior opponents, and did little to legitimize the Demon Deacons as contenders. But with three victories over Atlantic Division opponents and Florida State in the rearview, Wake Forest has put themselves in a position to contend with Clemson for a berth to the ACC Championship Game.

WHAT FLORIDA STATE LOST: Their third straight game. Their status as ACC title contenders. Possibly some self confidence. Saturday's meeting with Wake Forest was supposed to get the Seminoles back on track after dropping two straight. EJ Manuel appears ready to play again, but his return comes as the window of opportunity is closing. The Seminoles will now need to run the table and get some help if they want to return to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Wake Forest's first touchdown came on a 30-yard pass from wide receiver Michael Campanaro to Terence Davis. The trick play is just one of several options the Demon Deacons' offense presents when they run sweeps, reverses, and options. Campanaro has been productive when given the opportunity to throw, completing 3/3 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. His inflated passing efficiency is 616.8.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:29 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Oct. 1)



Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Clemson is a contender, Virginia Tech is a pretender - The Tigers made ACC history on Saturday, being the first team to defeat three ranked opponents in consecutive weeks. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech (well huh) have both accomplished the feat once in program history, but neither school was a member of the ACC at the time. Their win against one of the highest ranked team ended up being their most impressive, with Clemson holding Virginia Tech from the end zone at home for the first time since 1995. But as much attention as Chad Morris' offense has gotten under Tajh Boyd's direction, the Tigers had not gotten a performance like that from their defense yet this season. It all seems to be coming together for Clemson, and just at the right time. With the victory over Florida State, the Tigers are in the driver's seat for the Atlantic Division title. If they take care of business, they will find themselves back in the ACC Championship Game.

The Hokies, on the other hand, might not be back in the conference title game. The Coastal Division is much more difficult to project, but Georgia Tech has arguably replaced Virginia Tech as the frontrunner. The Yellow Jackets did allow a relentless N.C. State team to climb back into the contest twice, but you cannot expect any conference road game to be a breeze.

Frank Beamer's squad will have a chance to bounce back immediately, with a divisional showdown against Miami in Blacksburg. The Hurricanes' also have one conference loss, and some consistency issues of their own. A lot more to learn about the Coastal in the week ahead.

2. Georgia Tech is still very impressive, but not unstoppable - With N.C. State missing their leading rusher and severely depleted on defense, the Yellow Jackets were predicted to roll over the Wolfpack in Raleigh. But after jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead, N.C. State's defense clamped down on quarterback Tevin Washington. Middle linebacker Audie Cole directed the defense as they filled the gaps and cut the Georgia Tech lead to one touchdown in the third quarter. Georgia Tech then scored three more touchdowns in under three minutes of game time in the fourth quarter, which was followed by three more touchdowns from N.C. State. The entire period was sloppy on both sides, but the first comeback might provide some helpful insight for the rest of the conference.

3. Giovani Bernard is the real deal. North Carolina has not been known as a program that produces star running backs recently, but they may have one with redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard. Bernard continued his impressive rookie campaign in North Carolina's 35-20 win at East Carolina, picking up 146 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Bernard's numbers on the season rank among the nation's best for freshmen, but they are already good enough to earn him a spot in program history. On Saturday Bernard became the first North Carolina running back to rush for 100+ yards since Pro Bowler Natrone Means did it in 1992. His seven touchdowns on the season already match the count for last year's team leader, Johnny White - now with the Buffalo Bills.

4. Florida State and Virginia Tech should not overlook Wake Forest. Nowhere close to putting either team on "upset alert," but Wake Forest has continued their play that is significantly improved from 2010. Both Florida State and Virginia Tech will travel to Winston-Salem to face Jim Grobe's squad at home in the next two weeks. Few teams returned more starters than the Demon Deacons, and some assumed that would lead to similar results. But Grobe has once again lived up his "player development" reputation, taking basically the same lineup that went 1-7 in ACC play and already doubling that win count in 2011. Hitting the meat of their schedule at 3-1, the Deacons will need to find four more victories on the schedule in order to return to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Wake Forest's success has been due to noticeable improvement on both sides of the ball. The defense, particularly the back seven, is communicating better and swarming to the ball in space. Tanner Price finally is leading an offensive scheme that fits the personnel with Josh Harris, Chris Givens, and Michael Campanaro all emerging as dynamic playmakers. The one weakness Wake Forest has displayed has been the inability to hold a lead late in the game. It cost them the season opening win at Syracuse, and nearly got them in trouble against N.C. State and Saturday at Boston College. But as far as the visits from the Seminoles and Hokies go, I wouldn't imagine a quick Deacs lead would be in the cards anyway.

5. Miami has consistency issues. Miami's consistency issues aren't just game-to-game, they seem to be half-to-half and even quarter-to-quarter at times this season. The dominant performance against Ohio State is sandwiched between frustrating losses to Maryland and Kansas State, while the first 22 minutes of Saturday's matchup with Bethune-Cookman was vastly different to the 45-3 blowout in the final 30+ minutes of play.

You could put some of the blame on the shifting personnel or distractions from the NCAA investigation. You could look at the new coaching staff, as they try to implement a new culture on a roster that is loaded with talented upperclassmen. But whatever the issues are, the Hurricanes need to get them straightened out quickly. The ACC Coastal is now wide open, and despite the rocky 2-2 start the Canes can still salvage their season with strong conference play.

Unfortunately for Al Golden's staff, those tests are coming now. Miami travels to Virginia Tech and North Carolina in the next two weeks before hosting Georgia Tech on October 22 in the comfy confines of Sun Life Stadium. In the next month Miami's season will be defined. The time to tighten up is now.

6. Duke to bowl game? Three straight wins is a start. Okay, maybe a bit of a stretch there. But the Blue Devils have won three straight games since starting the season 0-2. Most importantly, those three victories have all been against FBS opponents. Duke has nothing but conference games left, so three wins is the magic number to make David Cutcliffe's squad bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Virginia is winnable, but on the road. Wake Forest is looking less winnable, but will be played at home. Steal both of those and one upset victory against Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech or North Carolina and the Blue Devils are golden. Doesn't sound probable, but they've at least go the momentum to make it seem possible.

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