Ole Miss will play host to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the Atlantic Coast Conference today for the first time in school history. Wake Forest enters the Ole Miss game with a 3-0 record, a first since 1987, when the Demon Deacons won their opening five games.
Wake Forest opened the 2006 season with back-to-back home wins over Syracuse 20-10 and Duke 14-13. They went on the road last week and defeated Connecticut 24-13.
The opening three wins have been costly to the Demon Deacons, losing their junior starting quarterback, Ben Mauk, in the Syracuse game and last week their starting tailback, Micah Andrews. Andrews is the son of former Atlanta Falcons running back William Andrews. He is a junior and had carried the football 58 of the Deacons' 111 rushing plays. Wake also lost their left starting tackle, Arby Jones, a senior.
Wake Forest is coached by Jim Grobe, a 1975 graduate of the University of Virginia. Grobe is in his sixth year at the helm of the Demon Deacons program where he has won 29 games and lost 32. His overall head coaching record is 62-65-1 covering 12 years coaching at Wake Forest and Ohio University.
Grobe learned the running game and how to spread defenses out by spending 11 years as an assistant coach at the Air Force Academy. He coached against Ole Miss in the 1989 and 1992 Liberty Bowls where the Rebels defeated Air Force in both games.
The Demon Deacons will run a spread or shotgun style offense against the Rebels. They average only 288 yards per game on offense, 134 rushing and 154 rushing while scoring an average 19.3 points per game. The Deacons do convert 41% of their third down conversion situations but have given up nine sacks for a minus 65 yards.
The offensive coordinator for the Deacons is Steed Lobotzke, a 1992 graduate of the Air Force Academy. After graduation, Lobotzke worked as a graduate assistant at Air Force, then followed Grobe to Ohio in 1997 and on to Wake Forest in 2001. Lobotzke uses a run/pass ratio of 5/3, five rushes for every three passes, yet 53% of the Deacons total yards in three games have come through the air. Lobotzke will likely start three seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and one red-shirt freshman. The Deacons offensive line averages 303 pounds per man.
KEY WAKE FOREST OFFENSIVE PLAYERS INCLUDE:
- QB # 11 Riley Skinner, rFr., 6-1, 196 - 30-46-358 yards, 65%, 0 TD's, 1 INT, Rushing net (-32) yards"
- TB # 23 Kevin Harris, rFr., 6-1, 230 - 7 carries, 66, 9.4 ave, Teammates call him "White Lightening;"
- TB # 18 De'Angelo Bryant, rJr., 6-0, 245 - 14 carries, 63 yards, 4.5 ave;
- FB # 35 Rich Belton, rSo., 6-1, 250 - Primarily a blocker, 4 carries, 19 yards, 3 reception, 19 yards;
- RT # 75 Steve Vallos, rSr, 6-3, 290 - Senior achor in the offensive line, 38th consecutive start;
- WR # 82 Willie Idlette, rSr., 5-10,175 - 10 receptions, 147 yards, 14.7 ave, 1 TD, has world class speed; and,
- WR #21 Kenneth Moore, rJr - 6-0, 195 - 8 receptions, 104 yds.
Wake Forest will use a 4-3-4 defense similar to the one the Rebels run. The Deacons defensive coordinator is Dean Hood, a 1986 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan where he played defensive back. Hood first joined Grobe's staff at Ohio in 1999 and went with Grobe to Wake Forest in 2001.
Hood's Deacon defense has forced over two turnovers per game over the five plus years he has headed up their defense. His defenses have returned 10 interceptions for touchdowns over the past three years. They play an aggressive defense, allowing their opponents only 276 total yards per game so far this season. The Deacons are allowing only 12 points per game and 93 yards rushing. They are averaging three sacks per game through three games.
Hood will likely start five seniors, three juniors and three sophomores. The Demon Deacons defensive front four average 268 pounds per man, the exact same size as Kentucky. The Rebels put up 205 yards rushing and 395 total yards on the Wildcats.
KEY DEMON DEACON DEFENDERS INCLUDE:
- MLB # 40 Jon Abbate, rJr., 5-11, 245 - 7 solo, 21 assist, 28 total tackles;
- SS # 30 Patrick Ghee, rSr., 6-1, 211 - 7 solo, 12 assist, 19 total tackles;
- OLB # 59 Aaron Curry, rSo., 6-3, 240 - 13 solo, 5 assist, 18 tackles and 2 sacks;
- OLB # 43 Stanley Arnoux, rSo., 6-0 ½ , 245 - 7 solo, 10 assist, 17 tackles; and,
- FS # 22 Josh Gattis, rSr., 6-1, 212 - 8 solo, 9 assist, 17 tackles;
- DE # 48 Bryan Andrews, rSr., 6-5, 263 - 6 solo, 7 assist, 13 tackles and 2 ½ sacks.
WAKE FOREST SPECIAL TEAM PLAYERS:
Punter - # 38 Sam Swank, rSo. - 17 punts, 42.8 ave, long 86 of yards;
Punt Return - # 82 Willie Idlette, rSr. - 6 returns, 62 yards, 10.3 ave or # 21 Kenneth Moore, rJr - 2returns, 31 yards, 15.5 ave
PL Kicker - # 38 Sam Swank, rSo. - 3-6 FG, 7-7 PATs; and,
KO Return - # 82 Willie Idlette, sSr. - 2 returns, 35y, 17.5 ave or # 2 Alphonso Smith, rSr. - 2 returns, 35 yards, 15.5 ave
THOUGHTS - Wake Forest relies on experience, 40 of 44 players on their two-deep depth chart are redshirt players. The Rebels need to pressure Skinner and try to force him into mistakes. Ole Miss needs a win to regain some confidence as they face seven remaining SEC games.
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