Figuring out Wake Forest.

Ok, I give up. Who is Wake Forest and what do I know about them? The Deacon Demons finished 6-6 for the season, beating East Carolina, Purdue, Georgia Tech, Duke, North Carolina and Navy. They lost to North Illinois (in overtime,) North Carolina State, Virginia, Clemson, Florida State and Maryland. The longest winning streak for the season was two games - meaning they won and lost every other game. Get the picture?

For the season Wake Forest scored 318 points yet gave up 310 points, averaging 26.5 points per game while opponents scored 25.8 points per game. Sounds like an average team. They rushed for 2,879 yards (239.9 ypg) and allowed 1,932 yards (161.0) rushing against them. The Deacons passed for 1,929 yards (160.8 ypg) while opponents passed for 2,851 yards (237.6 ypg.) Hmm, what did Oregon do? The Ducks rushed for 1,768 yards (147.3 ypg) and passed for 2,794 yards (232.8 ypg.) Here is where it gets really ugly for Oregon - the Ducks gave up 1,544 yards (140.4 ypg) rushing and 3544 yards (295.3 ypg) passing. Ouch, these teams have similar statistics.

Who are the Deacons the Ducks have to stop or at least watch as they run past them? Senior running back Tarence Williams, 5-10, 178, had a 4.7 yards per carry average and totaled 799 yards and five touchdowns for the season. Last year, Williams scored 10 touchdowns and rushed for over a 1,000 yards. Williams averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Freshman Chris Barclay, 5-10, 175, rushed for 621 yards (5.0 yards per carry, 51.8 ypg) and scored eight touchdowns.

The Deacon passing game is not the same caliber as Pac-10 teams, though the "go-to guy," as described by Deacon Head Coach Jim Grobe, is senior wide receiver Fabian Davis, 5-11, 180. Davis had 35 catches for 548 yards, but no receiver touchdowns. Davis also had 43 carries for 381 yards, one touchdown and an 8.1 yard per carry average. Davis returned one punt for a touchdown this season.

"There's no question we're going to have to throw the football," Grobe said in a press release on Thursday. "Being balanced on offense is going to be the key for us."

Senior quarterback James McPherson, 6-2, 197, was 114 for 207 and 1,596 yards and six touchdowns a 125.54 efficiency rating. McPherson also had 60 rushes for 163 yards including one run of 28 yards. McPherson is a smart veteran and is not afraid of the Ducks.

"Oregon will be tough, but I think we're capable of moving the ball on their defense," McPherson indicated in Thursday's press release. "When it comes down to it, our gameplan is pretty basic; we just have to go out there and execute and score some touchdowns."

Defensively, the Ducks will have to contend with 1st Team All-American Calvin Pace. The 6-6, 270, senior defensive end had 72 tackles this season in only 11 games including 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Pace was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Pace may also possess the special ingredient known as heart or courage as a football player.

"While we may not have as much talent, I think the heart and hustle we play with matches us up with anyone," said Pace.

Just what the Ducks need - an opponent that knows it's own limitations and will rely on heart and hustle to make a difference. Is that something that can be bottled and sprinkled on meals like Tabasco sauce? If so maybe the Ducks could order a couple pallet loads before the start of next season.

The Ducks need a win in the Seattle Bowl to relieve the sting of five devastating losses to Pac-10 foes. The back-to-back Pac-10 champion faltered badly in the month of November losing three of four games. Wake Forest goes into the Seattle Bowl the decided underdog but looking at their record - they had bounced back after each loss for a win. The Deacons lost their final game of the regular season to Maryland 32-14. The second thing that might give some cause for heartburn for the Ducks is that Wake Forest had productive third quarters all season long. Wake Forest scored 99 points in the third quarter this season. Now that is probably more information than the denizens of section 14 may want to hear, but there it is.


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