Duke (1-0) vs Wake Forest (1-0)
Winston Salem, N.C. - BB&T Field
TV: N/A / Kick-off: 12:00 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: ACC Nickname: Demon Deacons Colors: Black & Gold Head Coach: Jim Grobe (10th season) Career Record at Wake: 60-51
Saturday will mark the 88th time the Blue Devils and Demon Deacons have met on the football field with Duke holding a healthy series advantage at 53-35-2. However, recent history goes against the grain of the traditional series with Wake Forest owning a 10 game win streak. It's the second longest streak of the series next to Duke's 12 game spell from 1952-1963 and the longest ever for the Deacons.
A season ago the Deacons and Blue Devil put on an offensive show for the fans in Wallace Wade with Wake Forest coming out on top by a 45-34 margin. In that game two senior quarterbacks entertained the crowd as Duke's Thaddeus Lewis was 28-of-48 for 387 yards while Riley Skinner was 28-of-38 for 372 yards.
What To Watch For On Offense:
A season ago the Wake Forest offense was a bit more balanced with an experienced quarterback capable of putting up big numbers. This year, however, the Deacons appear to be putting a much greater emphasis on the ground game to take the pressure off new quarterback Ted Stachitas. A bit more mobile than the departed Skinner, Stachitas played only the first half against Presbyterian and managed to complete just more than half of his passes (7-of-13) for 84 yards while also running for 76 yards which included a 34 yard touchdown run. Not a bad start to his reign as the Deacons' starting signal caller. Backing up Stachitas will be true freshman Tanner Price, a former two star recruit out of Austin, Tex. In the opener the 6-foot-2 Price started the second half in the role of caretaker after the outcome was no longer in doubt. Price managed to run three times for 17 yards but completed just one of his seven pass attempts for four yards.
With Skinner departing and the passing game looking somewhat uncertain, head coach Jim Grobe wanted to emphasize the running attack in a big way throughout 2010. He said as much in the preseason and the fruits of those labors were on display in a big was as the Deacons carried the ball 50 times for 415 yards in the season opener. Only one team rushed for more yards in the first week of the season. Those 50 carries were divided up against 10 different Deacons in a variety of option based plays that saw six Deacons log 38 yards or more on the ground. Considering the Duke defense is still adjusting to the formation switch and the Deacons have a lot of talented runners such as speedster Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass on top of the mobile Stachitas the outcome of this game will likely center around the ability of Wake to run the football and keep the high powered Duke passing attack off the field.
First on the scouting report will be Adams who enters Saturday's game ranking fourth on the conference's active rushing list with 1,939 yards. The 2007 ACC Rookie of the Year, Adams is looking to become just the fourth player in program history to amass 2,000 career yards along with 80 receptions.
At some point, however, the Deacons will need to develop a balanced offensive attack and when that happens the new quarterback(s) will have a number of experienced targets from which to pick. Wake Forest returns its top four receivers from a season ago and nine of the top 10. Devon Brown, the team's leading receiver a season ago with 61 catches, made his mark on the opening week on a 85 yard sweep run that went for a touchdown. Also back are the second and third leading receivers Marshall Williams (60 catches in 2009) and Chris Givens (45). Out of the backfield Josh Adams added 28 catches. Despite the experienced wideouts, the lack of experience under center left the Deacons with just two players who recorded more than one catch in week one.
Givens, who was not active in week one while serving a two game suspension has been cleared to play by Grobe for "good behavior".
The offensive line in Winston has a good amount of experience. There are just two redshirt freshmen on the 2-deep with the entire first team being at least in their third season. The average offensive lineman for the Deacons is around 310 pounds and stands 6-foot-5. Size is one thing, but it's the mobility of the Deacon line that has allowed the option style offense to be so effective. Center Russell Nenon, guard Joe Looney, along with former Duke commit, RT Doug Weaver figure to test the new Blue Devil 3-4 scheme.
What To Watch For On Defense:
It's hard to get a feel for just how solid the Wake defense of 2010 is. Presbyterian didn't put up much of a fight and allowed the Deacons to put their second team on the field as much as Grobe desired. With just four of the team's top 10 tacklers returning for the 2010 season there are certainly a number of questions surrounding the Wake Forest defense.
What is known is the impact return of DE Kyle Wilber who suffered a broken leg in the middle of 2009 and missed the final seven games. The fourth year junior returned in a big way last week with eight tackles, three sacks, five tackles for loss, and he forced a fumble. Opposite of Wilber will be Tristan Dorty who played a lot a season ago - enough to record more than 40 tackles and a handful of sacks.
The remainder of the defensive line - especially on the interior - is a bigger question mark. Defensive tackle Ramon Booi has traditional DT size at 6-6 and 300 pounds, but starting nose guard Nikita Whitlock is a little undersized at 5-11 and 235 pounds. Other players to watch on the interior Kris Redding and Frank Souza - both redshirt freshmen.
Brothers Riley and Hunter Haynes start at MLB and WLB for the Deacons with Joey Ehrmann lining up on the other side. Ehrmann is the son of former Baltimore Colts star Joe Ehrmann had the best 2009 numbers and did well enough in the first week, recording two tackles including one tackle for loss. Meanwhile the Haynes brothers continued to build on strong a strong 2009 that included a trial by fire process after the Deacons lost most of the linebacking power from 2008. A season older and wiser, Hunter Haynes started 2010 by recording two stops while his brother had a great afternoon in his first start with five tackles.
In the defensive backfield the Deacons are, again, older and wiser after last season the program was forced to break in and run with several inexperienced players. Just a season after forcing 37 turnovers, the inexperienced backfield managed just 15 in 2009. Sophomore cornerback Kenny Okoro got a lot of the preseason publicity after making the all-rookie team a year ago thanks to four interceptions. He continued his strong play in week one with four stops and one pass break-up. Opposite Okoro will be fourth year junior Josh Bush who started a week ago but didn't' figure in the box score.
Strong safety Cyhl Quarles plays like a linebacker and excels in supporting the Deacon run defense. He finished second on the team in tackles a season ago and started the season in that manner again in week one when he shared top tackling honors with Wilber with eight stops including one tackle for loss. Beside Quarles will be rookie Daniel Mack, a 6'0 195 pound prospect who added two stops in the opener which was also his first career start.
Every time the Blue Devils take the field at BB&T stadium it seems it's a close game. Since 1993, Duke has visited BB&T Field nine times and seven of those games have been decided by eight points or fewer. Most recently, Wake Forest posted a 33-30 overtime win in 2008. The most recent edition of the rivalry appears to have the makings of a similar outcome. Each team seems have strengths that will test the perceived weaknesses of the other. The Blue Devil passing attack is as potent as it was a season ago. Meanwhile the Deacon ground attack will force the Blue Devils to address a number of questions raised by Elon a week ago.
The Duke offense will be able to score points under the leadership and direction of Sean Renfree and his extremely talented group of receivers. However for that to happen the Blue Devil defense must stop the ground attack and not allow the Deacons to keep the ball and thus keep the Duke offense on the sideline. Last season the Blue Devils were on even footing with Wake throughout the first half before a disastrous third quarter put the game out of reach. A very weak third quarter performance reared its head last week against Elon and allowed the Phoenix to make a game of the opener well into the final quarter. Against Wake Forest a similar performance will spell disaster and could put a post season berth in doubt. That being said, if Duke's going to break the streak this is the year.
Predicted Final Score:
Duke - 34
Wake Forest - 31