Wentz: "We're Trying To Prove Something"

Pack Pride caught up with Camden Wentz after practice this week to discuss the unexpected loss to Virginia, as well as the upcoming game with the Demon Deacons.

The Wolfpack entered the game last Saturday as heavy favorites, but Vegas was no help on the field. The Cavaliers came out, executed and won the game that many have since said was never really a contest. Cam believes a lot of that was due to self-inflicted problems throughout the game.

"That's the story of our losses this year," Wentz said. "We shoot ourselves in the foot. We'll have good things going and then we'll do something that will stall the drive. Get behind the chains…turn the ball over…give up sacks.

"It wasn't that we got out-schemed or out-matched. They just out-willed us. We made mistakes and they took advantage of them."

The popular theory amongst the media and many fans is that the Wolfpack was still reeling over the gut-wrenching loss to rival North Carolina the week before. Wentz is not so sure about that, but can't fully dismiss it.

"To each his own, with that," the starting center said of the previous loss being the culprit. "It's hard to tell where everybody's mindset is. Speaking for myself…something about us just seemed flat. It's hard to know what caused it.

"It was a definitely a bitter feeling, but in the game of football you have to get over stuff fast. You play a game the next week. Coach O'Brien tells us after every Sunday practice that the previous game is over. Don't worry about it. Don't think about it."

In order to cope with the loss of experienced players along the offensive line this season, Wentz has been asked to shift over to guard from time to time during games in the past few weeks. Redshirt freshman Joe Thuney deputizes Cam at center, allowing Wentz to try his hand at another central OL position.

"Of course I'm most comfortable at center, because I've been doing it for so long," said Wentz of his temporary position shift. "I know all the positions well enough that I understand what I'm supposed to do, but I might be a little uncomfortable at times. It's something I need to get comfortable at, because we have to get the five best guys out there at one time."

During his time at guard this past week versus the Cavaliers, Wentz was seen furiously complaining to the referee while running off the field following a failed third down conversion.

It seems that the Virginia defensive linemen were pushing the limit of the football law when running stunts and twists. Unseen by the officials, the Cavaliers were grabbing the jersey of the guard and pulling the OL with them, thus disrupting the soundness of the Wolfpack's blocking schemes.

"Technically it's not legal, from my understanding," Wentz said of the Cavs defensive line technique. "But it's not something that the refs can easily see. There was a blatant one, my first series playing guard. It's something you've got to overcome."

"One of the guys in the twist is going to be a penetrator and they were trying to create separation between the offensive linemen," Cam went on to say. "The goal for the o-line is to stay square and hip-to-hip, so you can just pass guys off to each other. Every team does twists differently. Our guys (defensive linemen) pick instead of grab. I thought the one on me was pretty blatant and easy to see. But at the same time, it's hard to call."

Shifting focus to the upcoming game versus the visiting Deacons from Wake Forest, Cam described the unique challenge ahead in the form of Nikita Whitlock. The Deacons' 5-11, 260lb starting noseguard from Wylie, Tx.

"He's very active and it's a different style," Wentz said of the redshirt junior. "Every week we're going against these 300-pounders. You can't be out of control because he can stop on a dime. He's everywhere. You'll think you have him blocked but then all of a sudden he's squeezed through somehow. It's definitely a challenge."

Whitlock is not the only variable that differentiates the defensive line of Wake Forest from that of other schools the Wolfpack has played. The overall scheme of the Deacons represents a drastic change in the opposition.

"Most defensive fronts are going to be gap control, where a guy has a gap and he's going to play that gap," Cam said of past opponents. "Most teams do a little slant and angle, but that's what Wake predominantly does. They're moving sideways on every play. So as an offensive lineman, you've got to punch a hole north, because if they if their defensive linemen stay on the line of scrimmage…you aren't going to get anywhere."

Wentz and his teammates are relishing the opportunity to redeem themselves this week and put the previous two games behind them.

"This week we need to get back to where we were in the middle of the season," Wentz said of the Wolfpack's offense. "We were a well-oiled machine, to an extent. Not making many mistakes. Adversity is going to happen every game and we've just got to limit that. We need to get a ground game going and keep Mike clean.

"After two losses, like we've had. The mindset is pretty revved up. We're trying to prove something. I could tell today there was a different attention to detail. Focusing more on the little things and coming out and giving our fans the game they deserve."

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