Orange Bowl Notebook: WFU plans to mix it up

Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest see themselves as the upstart in next week's Orange Bowl match up against #5 Louisville. Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe is particularly concerned Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm and the Cardinals high-powered offensive attack.

Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest see themselves as the upstart in next week's Orange Bowl match up against #5 Louisville. Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe is particularly concerned Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm and the Cardinals high-powered offensive attack.

After a sub-par performance on the road against Rutgers Nov. 9, Brohm was sensational to finish out the 2006 regular season, throwing for 300 or more yards and ten touchdowns in Louisville final three games – each blowout wins – over South Florida, Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

"He's probably the best quarterback we've faced," Grobe said Thursday. "I thought Boston College's quarterback was very good. But Brian has all the throws. He really manages the offense well, he has all the underneath stuff, but he's got the arm strength to get the ball down the field."

Grobe is also concerned about Brohm's supporting cast, particularly all-Big East wide receivers Harry Douglas and Mario Urritia and leading rusher Kolby Smith.

"He's got a great supporting cast, really fine offensive line and great skill players," Grobe said. "Brian Brohm is really, really special, but in addition to having a great quarterback, they've got a lot of kids around him that make plays. It keeps our defensive staff up late at night."

Louisville's balanced offensive attack and the Cardinals ability to score points in bunches has Grobe work over-time trying to devise a way to slow down Petrino's #2 ranked offense.

"I think their big play ability is what scares you the most," he said. "They have the big play ability throwing the football, but they do a nice job running the ball. So they're not a one-dimensional offense, and I think that's what drives all defenses crazy is when you've got a team that has some balance to it that can run it and throw it."

To slow down Louisville's high-powered attack, Grobe hopes to keep Brohm and the Cardinals off-balance by mixing up things on defense. That means Brohm will have to do a good job recognizing what formation the Demon Deacons are in and taking what the Wake Forest defense is giving.

"I think (our) key defensively is to try to keep things mixed up so you can give the quarterback a little something different to look at play in and play out," Grobe said. "At times it involves trying to bring a lot of pressure and at times it involves trying to play coverage's and get more people in coverage, and I think disguising what you do is really, really important.


Brian Brohm

Fortunately for Louisville, understanding and reading defenses has been a strength for their talented junior signal-caller.

"I think Brian does a really nice job of reading defenses, and so I think disguise becomes very important," Grobe said. "What we'd like to do is have about eight guys in coverage every snap and be able to bring about eight. If we could do that, I think we'd be pretty good. But unfortunately they'll only let us play with 11. So, I think the key is just trying to mix things up. At times you want to bring some heat, and at times you want to have more guys back there."

Grobe's defense led the nation in interceptions this season and the Wake Forest coach said that turnovers will play a key role in next week's FedEx Orange Bowl.

"I think a key is not giving them more opportunities by turning the football over," Grobe said. "I think it's a huge factor for us offensively to not only try to find a way to make first downs and spend some time on the field if we can, but especially not to turn the football over because that gives Louisville more opportunities. And then from a defensive standpoint, I think if you can turn the ball over a little bit, certainly you limit their chances to score points. One of the things we've done pretty well all year is in the turnover ratio. I don't think it could ever be more important than it will be in the Orange Bowl."

Wake Forest Injury Report

Wake Forest is hopeful that freshman running back Kevin Harris, the Demon Deacons second leading scorer, will be available for Tuesday's game. Harris missed three of Wake Forest's last five games, including the ACC title game against Georgia Tech, because of injury.

"I think Kevin is okay for the game," Grobe said. "He practiced last week, was not full speed but was able to go through all of our practices. We're hopeful that by the time we play, he'll be ready to go."

Wide receivers Kenny Moore and Nate Morton are also banged up heading into next week's game.

"Of course we're very hopeful that Kenny Moore will be full speed," Grobe said. "That's a real key for us is having Kenny ready to go. I would hope that we wouldn't have to play Kevin a whole lot in the game, but we'll see how that turns out."

"Nate Morton is probably a concern for us with his finger," Grobe said. "He had the compound dislocation in practice catching a football and had to have some stitches and whatnot. We think he's going to be ready to go. We'll know a little bit more as he's able to practice this week, see what he's able to do as far as blocking and catching the football."


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