The Deacs are looking to move 5-0 for just the fourth time in program history and for the first time since 2006, when they finished 11-3 with an ACC Championship and Orange Bowl appearance.
A win would give them a chance next week to go 6-0 for just the second time in program history (1944) with a home win over Syracuse.
This Wake Forest football team engaged in several team building activities during the summer including going to the movies, playing paintball and hitting the bowling alley. Who was the best bowler on the team?
“I don’t even think it’s one of the players. I think it’s a coach,” Wake linebacker Jaboree Williams said. “(Special teams) coach Scheier is the guy. The players? We have some good bowlers, but nothing like coach Scheier.”
Wake received votes in the Coaches and AP Polls for the first time since October 2011, earning nine points in both. The points received effectively earned them a 40th place ranking in the Amway Coaches Poll and 44th in the AP Poll.
The Deacs appear to be attacking practice with the same, if not more, ferocity and fervor after the hot start to the season.
“That’s just natural. When you start to win, you start to see these results. A lot of times it’s hard when you have a good week of practice and then at the end of the week you lose,” Wake quarterback John Wolford said. “A lot of times, it can be a variety of factors. You can’t always play perfect. But for some of the younger guys they start to see the importance of practice and how it translates to wins on the field.”
North Carolina State punter A.J. Cole has only been called into action six times so far this season in the first three Wolfpack games. He’s averaging 46.5 yards per punt, with 0 return yards so far.
By contrast, Dom Maggio and Mike Weaver have combined for 25 punts through four contests for Wake.
The Wake Forest defense is ranked 33rd in the nation in total defense, and 12th in rushing defense. That’s even more remarkable considering the vast number of players on that side of the ball that’s missed time for the Deacs. Those that have battled injury for Wake include Willie Yarbary, Jaboree Williams, Shelldon Lewinson, Demetrius Kemp, Amari Henderson and Cameron Glenn.
“I think it would be exciting to see,” Williams said about what it would be like to play with their full unit available. “We really haven’t had a chance to play with our entire defense yet, but that’s when it comes to the next man up, The next man up has to be as good as the starter. In this program, we prepare our 2s to be like our 1s. It’s worked out for us.”
After the road loss to East Carolina, Wake Forest moves closer and closer to “must win” territory for the Wolfpack. Their two ACC Coastal Division crossover games are UNC and Miami, and their final non-conference game comes next week when they host Notre Dame. It’s entirely likely they will only be favored to win two more games the rest of the way.
The Wolfpack have outscored the Deacs 77-30 the last two years, making quick work of Wake Forest in both games. They scored four 1st quarter touchdowns last year at BB&T Field and never looked back.
“The past two years, they’ve smacked us both times. We can’t let cheap plays happen and we can’t have mental miscues. It’s going to come down to execution,” Wolford said. “They’re going to challenge you. They have a good defense and good athletes. We have to win one-on-ones, protect and be able to run the ball. In previous years, we’ve started slow on offense and the defense has given up points early. They had big leads in both of those games. We can’t have the mental mistakes.”
With Matt Colburn rushing for 103 yards last week at Indiana, the Deacs now have a 100-yard rusher in three-consecutive games for the first time since 2001. Tarence Williams achieved that in Jim Grobe's first year at the helm for the Deacs.
Wake has progressed to 4-0 despite putting together a full 60-minute football game. There have been lapses in every contest, yet they’ve been able to push through and grab the victory.
"It’s a good sign, because we’re learning how to win games. Not every game is going to go your way. Not every game is the defense going to play lights out and we’re going to score 50 points,” Wolford said. “There’s going to be games that come down to the 4th quarter. There’s going to be games where the defense carries us, and games where the offense will have to step up. It’s a team. Some quarters and some possessions won’t go your way, but you have to line up for the next play, dial in and follow the system. Hopefully at the end of the game you’ll have a chance to win.”null