Meet the Deacs

Possibly the largest crowd to ever see a football game in Winston-Salem will be on hand to support a Wake Forest (4-4, 1-4 ACC) team that can keep its flickering bowl hopes alive; and at the same time, ruin long time rival North Carolina's chances at a postseason.

With Saturday's announced oversell of Groves Stadium (31,000) already topping 37,000 tickets sold, Wake will break its single-season attendance record for a third-straight year. Ten Wake seniors that have combined for 250 starts in their careers will play for the final time at home.

All four of the Deacons' losses this year have come in the game's final seconds, and at a combined deficit of just 23 points. Wake has lost twice in overtime on the road – at Clemson and N.C. State. Against Virginia Tech, the Deacs had the ball at the 5-yard line, down by seven points with seven seconds to go, but couldn't score. And the Seminoles broke a 17-17 tie with 67 seconds left, before time would eventually run out on Wake.

Since Jim Grobe's arrival in 2001, Wake has posted a 13-4 record against in-state opponents (4-0 vs. ECU, 4-0 vs. Duke, 2-1 vs. UNC, 1-0 vs. ASU, 1-0 vs. N.C. A&T, and 1-3 vs. N.C. State). Since John Bunting took over at Carolina the same year, the Tar Heels are 7-5 against in-state competition.


Reportedly, Ben Mauk (#8, 6-1, 205, Fr.*) will get the start this week, after an 11-for-20. 127-yard, career-high passing performance two weeks ago versus Duke. Like Cory Randolph (#17, 6-2, 215, Jr.), who threw for 311 yards in a 42-34 loss at Chapel Hill last season, Mauk can also run. Randolph was averaging 35 yards rushing per game, while Mauk is the team's fourth-leading rusher. Randolph will have his streak of 20 consecutive starts at quarterback snapped this week, if Mauk does indeed get the nod.

Running Backs

The Deacs have led the ACC in rushing in each of the last three years, and despite returning just two starters on the offensive line, they currently rank second in the league averaging 216.9 yards per game. On Tuesday, Bunting was asked who he thought was the ACC's best running back. The first name out of his mouth was Chris Barclay (#28, 5-10, 173, Jr.) – the third leading rusher in Wake history with 2,607 career yards. He is currently ranked third in the conference with 89.0 yards per game, behind FSU's Leon Washington (98.4) and Georgia Tech's P.J. Daniels (97.0). Barclay is a workhorse, and along with Mauk or Randolph, will carry the bulk of the rushing load. Barclay has scored five touchdowns. Micah Andrews (#13, 5-10, 206, Fr.*) is the team's third leading ground gainer and leads the Deacs with six touchdowns. Cornelius Birgs (#24, 5-10, 214, Jr.) is averaging less than five carries per game.

Wide Receivers

The Deacons will spread the ball around when they throw it. Only Chris Davis (#5, 5-11, 182, Jr.) has caught two touchdown passes. All the other receivers have either just one or none. Jason Anderson (#80, 6-3, 195, Sr.) is the ACC's leader among active players in career receiving yards, and should return after missing the Duke game due to injury. Anderson is averaging 74 receiving yards per game this season. Willie Idlette (#82, 5-11, 175, So.), who also missed the Duke game with a strained foot, is averaging a team-high 19.2 yards per catch. Nate Morton (#83, 6-4, 196, So.) leads the in total yards with 344. Kevin Marion (#14, 5-91, 159, Fr.*) has 10 catches for 109 yards.

Tight Ends

Although Wake's first option is usually to run the ball, R.D. Montgomery (#87, 6-6, 233, Sr.), John Tereshinski (#89, 6-4, 225, Fr.*) and Zac Selmon (#85, 6-4, 234, Fr.*) are available as receiving options. The trio has combined for 113 yards on eight catches.

Offensive Line

Nicknamed the "Bellcow," Blake Lingruen (#76, 6-4, 298, Sr.) will battle with the Tar Heels' Jason Brown for top ACC honors at center. His backup is Steve Justice (#74, 6-4, 280, Fr.*), the younger brother of UNC linebacker Doug Justice. Left tackle Wesley Bryant (#72, 6-4, 302, Fr.*) was listed atop the depth chart for the first time this fall. Arby Jones (#61, 6-4, 255, So.) has started the last four games at left guard. Versatile right guard Steve Vallos (#75, 6-3, 297, So.) has started all 20 games of his career. Rookie Matt Brim (#79, 6-6, 305, Fr.*) has started all eight of his games at right tackle.

Defensive Line

The Deacs went to a four man front this year, led by returning starting ends Jerome Nichols (#85, 6-2, 273, Sr.) and Jyles Tucker (#55, 6-4, 250, So.), as well as nose tackle Goryal Scales (#57, 6-0, 283, Jr.), who forced a fumble versus FSU and recovered one against the Blue Devils. Tackle Zach Stukes (#95, 6-4, 279, Fr.*) is one of three freshmen to start on the defensive line this year, along with ends Matt Robinson (#42, 6-2, 226, Fr.*) and Jeremy Thompson (#6-5, 230, Fr.). Another end Bryan Andrews (#48, 6-6, 252, So.) had two solo tackles against the Seminoles.


MIKE Jonathan Abbate (#40, 6-0, 247 Fr.*) has arguably made the biggest impact of any rookie in the ACC this season. His 77 tackles are at least 33 better than any of his teammates' totals. Abbate averages 9.6 stops a game, second only to Arkansas State's Josh Williams (9.9) among NCAA freshmen. SAM Caron Bracy (#2, 6-0, 226, Sr.) has at least five tackles in four of the last five games. MIKE Pierre Easley (#51, 6-0, 246, So.) is coming off a personal season-best six tackles against Duke. WILL Brad White (#6-2, 232, Sr.) is listed as questionable with a shoulder contusion.

Defensive Backs

All-ACC corner Eric King (#9, 5-10, 185, Sr.) has started 40 straight games. This year he has recorded five tackles for loss, nine pass breakups, a sack and an interception. Free safety Josh Gattis (#22, 6-2, 196, So.), the team's second-leading tackler behind Abbate, forced a fumble, recovered one and broke up a pass versus the Blue Devils. Gattis and cornerback Marcus McGruder (#3, 5-9, 188, Sr.) each lead the team with two interceptions apiece. Strong safety Patrick Ghee (#30, 6-2, 204, So.) is fifth on the team with 38 tackles in his first season as a starter.

Special Teams

With a 44.9 yards per punt average, Ryan Plackemeier (#81, 6-4, 235, Jr.) is not only the ACC's career punting leader, but ranks second nationally among active punters. Since he took over the place-kicking duties he is made 3 of 6 field goal attempts with a 41-yarder as his longest. He has also had a field goal blocked this year. Idlette, who returned a punt for a touchdown in last year's win over N.C. State, is averaging just 4.9 yards per punt return this season. Marion handles the kickoff return duties and has a 43-yard return to his credit, but no touchdowns.

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