Opponent Preview - Wake Forest

East Carolina's 2001 football season opener against Wake Forest is now less than two weeks away and anticipation is building in Pirate Land. A seasoned squad coupled with a favorable schedule even has some folks uttering the "U" word around Greenville.

No need asking Pirate head coach Steve Logan his feelings on the subject, he'll have none of it. Now that his squad has finished its run of three-a-days he's more likely to expound on whether or not his players will be prepared to play on September 1.

Following a team practice last week Logan said, "I'm still concerned about our depth. Not about whether we have the players, but whether we've got the players ready to play. I know we don't. So we've got work to do."

Coach Logan indeed has "the players", and in the unlikely event that his team is not adequately prepared for the home opener the sheer talent difference should be more than enough to dispatch a regrouping Wake Forest team.

New Deacons coach Jim Grobe has 16 starters returning this fall, but they were part of a squad that struggled to finish 2-9 last year. The most glaring offensive personnel deficiency is at the quarterback position.

Sophomore Anthony Young and junior James MacPherson shared the QB spot last season after CJ Leak was lost to injury – Leak has since transferred. The two's passing game struggled and Wake finished last in the ACC in that category. Grobe will try to improve on their woeful passing performance by running some shotgun formations and using three wide receiver sets.

The Deacons' running game is more solid with the return of running back Tarance Williams. The junior averaged 5.1 yards per carry and 60.1 yards per game in 2000. James MacPherson added 455 yards from the quarterback position.

Defensively, Wake Forest has seven returning starters from a unit that allowed over 205 yards per game last year – last in the ACC. With a lack of quality interior lineman, Grobe is expected to run a 3-4 formation. Linebacker Marques Hopkins, who led the team in tackles in 2000 and cornerback Adrian Duncan will anchor the Deacon defense. Duncan finished sixth in the ACC in pass defense efficiency.

Fortunately for Wake Forest fans, Grobe is no stranger to challenge; he resurrected a near lifeless program at Ohio University. Pirate fans may recall the tough contests the Pirates had with the Bobcats in 1996 (55-45, ECU win) and 1998 (21-14 ECU win). Unfortunately for Wake Forest fans, the progress may be slow in coming. The Deacons may win 4 games this year, but not the one in Greenville.


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