Wake Forest Preview

Ole Miss will look for a road upset when the Rebels visit No. 20 Wake Forest at 2:30 (CST) Saturday. Go inside for a preview.

The Vitals: Ole Miss is coming off a big home victory over Memphis and will look to knock off ranked team for the first time since 2003. No. 20 Wake Forest – the only ranked team from the ACC - dismantled Baylor on the opening weekend and has emerged as the possible favorite in the ACC. Kickoff is at 2:30 CT in Winston Salem, N.C., at BB&T Field. The Demon Deacons rushed at will and defeated Ole Miss, 27-3, in the last meeting between the two teams.

Viewing and Listening Options: The contest will be televised on ABC in Mississippi and North Carolina as well as surrounding areas. Other parts of the nation can view the game on ESPN2. Coverage Map

The contest can be heard live on the Ole Miss Radio Network and XM 199. The Rebel radio team includes David Kellum (play-by-play), Pete Cordelli (color) and Stan Sandroni (sideline).

The Ole Miss official athletics web site will display live audio and live stats.

Saturday Storylines:After a week full of dismal performances, Wake Forest is carrying its conference's torch. ACC favorite Clemson was completely shellacked by Alabama last week, so this becomes another nationally televised stage where the ACC favorite is pitted against an upstart from the SEC. The Rebels have nothing to lose as seven-point underdogs, and it is possible Wake will be a little tight. The Demon Deacons have admitted to not enjoying the favorite role.

Peria Jerry was seen breaking in his game cleats at practice Thursday and will try to play Saturday. The preseason All-SEC tackle is recovering from preseason knee surgery but hopes to be able to go. The coaches have agreed to give him a shot, and how he feels will predicate his number of snaps. Lawon Scott, Justin Smith and Jerrell Powe will all see time as well, while Marcus Tillman will start on the defensive line.

The "Wild Rebel" set was extremely effective, and Saturday will provide another big test for the scheme. With Dexter McCluster manning the controls, it will be interesting to see how it performs after videotape is out and against a solid defense. Sorry Memphis. Wake will provide a different kind of test, and if it continues to succeed, there is no reason to believe the inventive package won't be a threat week after week.

When Ole Miss has the ball… Ole Miss' offense needs to center around three B's: Balance, big plays and ball security. Expect a more comfortable Jevan Snead and another productive day from the stable of running backs Saturday versus Wake Forest. Snead showed a lot of promise against Memphis, but his best ball, the deep one, was just a touch off. His effectiveness with that pass will go a long way toward establishing the first and second ‘B'. The Rebels have the advantage with their massive offensive line, so if the backs keep the ball tucked, the running game can dictate pace and set a solid tone. The backs pounding Wake's front seven, mixing in McCluster and Snead shooting short passes along with the occasional long one will have the Rebels right there late in this one. Also, the Deacs lead the nation in turnovers since 2006, thus limiting bad throws and staying firm with pressure points when carrying the football will be key.

When Wake Forest has the ball…You have been hearing it all week, but let me reiterate, Wake does a great job of being efficient. The Deacs will absolutely nitpick opponents to death. The Rebels were semi-successful in the opener by playing bend but don't break defense. That can again work, but more pressure must be applied to QB Riley Skinner. The junior led the country in 2007 with a 72 percent completion percentage, so rattling him and forcing bad throws are musts. Wake has a patchwork offensive line that is relatively inexperienced compared to the rest of the team. The Demon Deacons have two solid backs in Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass, but running lanes were difficult to find against Baylor. Ole Miss is better, thus it is likely that Skinner will have to beat the Rebels. Coming up with a couple turnovers and limiting Wake to field goals are the keys for the defense. Yards don't matter in this one, just keep the touchdowns to a minimum.

Wake Forest Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Jim Grobe

On the win at Baylor...?"I was pleased. We have a lot of things we can improve on. For a first game, to have no penalties offensively is good. We took pretty good care of the ball. I was disappointed with the fumbles. Riley (Skinner) took care of the ball really well, which was different from last year when we opened at Boston College. I thought our defense played really aggressively. We had a couple of lulls during the game where we weren't as sharp as we needed to be. I thought Sam (Swank) and our special teams did a pretty good job. We got a lot of things we can improve on. For a first game, on the road, I'm pretty pleased."

On the ACC's performance in the first week...?"I think you just have to take a look at who they played. I don't know that there are too many teams in the country or too many coaches in the country that would choose to open with Alabama, Southern Cal, East Carolina or South Carolina. If coaches had their druthers, they'd open with junior high teams and make sure they get a win under their belt. I think you need to use a little common sense and look who most people played in the top 25 and you'll see that there's a difference."

On the excitement of opening the home season...?"Good weather or bad weather, I'm looking forward to going into our stadium. It's nice to be back home. We have a really tough opponent in Ole Miss that will be a great challenge for us. It's fun to be back home. Hopefully the weather will hold up. I think that will help our crowd if it does. It should be an exciting time."

On his concerns with Ole Miss...?"Talent. They're a very talented football team. They've had some great recruiting classes and they have an outstanding coach in Houston Nutt, who has brought in a really good staff. They're a typical SEC team. They have big, physical linemen and skill guys that can all run. They have a quarterback, who transferred from Texas, that's really talented. They have a lot of ability on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game and they have a coaching staff that's doing really good things."

On what the team has to work on most between week one and week two...?"The things that we did well last week, we need to hold on to and stay consistent. I was disappointed that we fumbled the football a couple of times. We have to cut back on turnovers. You never feel comfortable with your kicking game and you got to continue working on that. More than anything else, we have a really good football team coming in. We've got to improve over last week because we're playing a more talented team this week."

Senior wide receiver Chip Brinkman

On watching the struggles of the other ACC teams on Saturday...?"Wow. I sat there on Saturday and watched all of those games. In the past, you used to root against them and I was glad to see them lose. Not anymore. Everyone is coming down on the ACC and we really need to step it up. I was kind of shocked to see a good team like Clemson lose because I know they're a good football team. I think later on down their road, they're going to be a lot better."

On the possible weather conditions this Saturday...?"We're well prepared for the weather. We practice when we have inclement weather and that has helped us be really well prepared. It just makes us focus that much better. If it's raining come game time, I think we'll be fine. Our receivers can catch the ball and we will all be out there blocking and I think the running game will step it up."

On coach Steed Lobotzke and his offensive scheme...?"I really like what coach Lobo is doing this year. He is really opening up the offense. Once we get into the five wide receivers sets, it really puts a lot of pressure on the opposing defense. With all of the motion and the different personal, it makes things complicated for the other team's defensive coordinator. Coach Lobo understands that. He does a great job and I think he is one of the smartest guys I've ever been around."

On the challenge of doing things differently this year without Kenny Moore in the offense...?"Last year Kenny Moore had his own package for when he was at quarterback. He had a lot of balls thrown to him and our offense was mainly based around him. Now, we have a diverse group of wide receivers where anyone of us can make plays. It really balances our offense out well."

On his concerns about Ole Miss...?"We watched film yesterday and looking at their defensive secondary, we see that they have a group of guys that have played a lot of snaps together. They are also very physical and the safeties stop the run well. They do a lot of press-man coverage and that's something we have to beat. Further on down the line, if we don't beat the press-man this week, other schools are going to key on that and see that as a weakness. We just have to gout out there and compete and win every snap."

On the excitement of the home opener and how it will be to play in that atmosphere...?"I can't even tell you how excited I am right now. That new pressbox is something else. It's really cool just being here and seeing how our school has developed. It's an amazing time to be here. I'm pumped up. I know a lot of my friends are pumped up for the home opener. Once I get out there and see the crowd react when we run out of those gates, it will probably take me a second to calm down and realize that this is a game and we need to focus."

On being part of the resurgence of Wake Forest football...?"I think our first year won only four or five games and we were always getting picked dead last in the ACC. Just the other day I was watching ESPN and Lou Holtz picked us to win the ACC. That's a huge target on our back and it puts a lot of pressure on us that we haven't had before. At the same time however, it's an unbelievable experience to be part of such a growing tradition and I'm really proud to say that I'm a Wake Forest Demon Deacon."

Junior tight end Ben Wooster

On the way the offense played at Baylor...?It was exciting to see how the offense played. We moved the ball really well. Riley (Skinner) had a tremendous game. It was good to see him play at the level. We have a lot of things to work on both in the running and passing games but we felt pretty good coming out of Baylor.

On whether playing a team with a new coach like Baylor, helped the team prepare for playing Ole Miss and its new coach Houston Nutt...?It was great preparation in that we covered everything because we didn't know what Baylor was going to throw at us. So in that, we covered a little bit of what we think Ole Miss is going to do. So hopefully we will be pretty well prepared but we still have a lot of work to do.

On the best part of playing in an offense that is run by coach Lobotzke...?You never know what he is going to throw at you next. He's constantly changing what's going on and scheming what other defenses might do. It's also really good being a tight end because he's incorporated us in the offense so much recently. It's been great to be able to move around and catch the football but still be able to block.

Junior defensive tackle John Russell

On the Baylor game...?"I thought the defense did a pretty good job. For the most part, I think we held our own and did okay. Of course, I thought looking back on tape that we had to knock off some of the rust. You play a lot during the summer but then again, you're playing against your own offense. It's different when you get out there against new opponents. But once we got everything rolling, we started to get a good feeling of what they were going to do and we played a little better. We still have a long way to go but, overall, I'd say we did pretty well."

On facing Ole Miss this Saturday...?"It will be tough to play against them because they are such a physical team. We still know they're going to have some tricks up their sleeves and a few things they may not have brought out of the bag last week that they'll probably bring out for us. We've just got to be ready to play ball."

On the ACC's performance in the first week of nonconference action...?"It's kind of disappointing. You want to see guys in the conference do well outside of the conference. As much as we battle against each week in and week out once we start conference play, I think everyone wants to see the others do well against nonconference opponents. But at the same time, we can only take care of what we do. We can only handle what we do when we play and just go out there and represent our school and our staff the best that we can. It was kind of disappointing to see such a performance of the conference as a whole, but that's something that we can't control. We can only control us and we're only going to focus on us."

On the Ole Miss football program...?"The first thing I notice is how physical they are. They are the most physical team I've seen probably in about two years of watching film. That's just a testament to Coach Nutt. That's not the same team that we played down there two years ago. [Ole Miss] has a lot of great players on the offensive line, and I think the thing that just scares you the most is the athletes. They've got athletes everywhere you look. Everybody can play football, so I think it's going to be important for us to target them as best as we can and play our best game."

On the impact of adverse weather on Saturday's game for Ole Miss...?"I think they're a tough-minded team. I think they're going to be like us where it doesn't really matter; you just come out and play ball either way. Rain or shine, you're going to have to come and bring your `A-game.' Regardless of how the weather is, we've got to play as best as we can because we've got a great team coming up on Saturday."

On the first home game of this year's season...?"It's going to be exciting and it's definitely going to be a great atmosphere. Everybody's going to be watching and expecting big things. It's the ACC versus the SEC. We can only hope to come out and play our best and to live up to the hype of what people think about us and give our best effort."

Junior defensive tackle Boo Robinson

On last week's victory at Baylor...?"We had a pretty good outing. Everybody flew around pretty well. We had a few personal fouls that we have to eliminate but other than that we had a pretty good outing."

On playing Ole Miss again after the two teams met on Sept. 23, 2006...?"It's a completely different team. The offensive line coach did a good job and Coach Nutt came in there and instilled in those guys the mentality that they're going to come in here and try to run the ball on us a little bit. They've got a good running back and the offensive line is playing really physical now."

On this week's game against Ole Miss...?"We've just got to be focused a little bit more. Ole Miss is going to bring a more physical team out here. We've got to be focused and be assignment-sharp, and we've got to cut out personal fouls."

On the ACC...?"It was a tough first week for the ACC but I think everybody's going to come around. It was the first week and everybody's nervous, has a few jitters and the adrenaline's pumping really hard. But I think as the season goes on, the ACC is going to be okay."

On the keys to this Saturday's game...?"I think we already know what they're going to bring in here. They're going to come in here really physical with their offensive line and run the ball on us a fair amount. We've got to put them in some tough positions so they have to pass a little bit on us. [Ole Miss' quarterback] is throwing the ball pretty well and they're running the offense pretty well. We've got to work on the penalties that we had, keep the same game plan and come back with a lot more mental focus than we had last week."

On the new Deacon Tower and the excitement surrounding the football program...?"I think it's been a long time coming and it gives the fans something to be really excited about. I think everybody's been waiting for this season more than any other season, so we're going to have to come out and have a good showing at home."

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