Midway through the third quarter, Mauk threw his body after a fumbled ball and had his arm crushed. Mauk broke his arm, an injury that will keep him out for the season. "I think in Ben's case, there's no doubt we wanted Ben to be our guy," coach Jim Grobe said after the game. "We wanted to have a junior quarterback. That's something we had hoped for."
Still, Coach Grobe has several capable backups that he will stick into the equation in Riley Skinner and Brett Hodges. "But with Riley, he's got lots of ability," Grobe noted. "Comes from a great program in high school. He's a great guy. He's someone who can run this offense. I don't have any doubts. I just need him to grow up real, real fast."
And refrain from hitting too many defenders and further risking injury.
Twice on Saturday, Skinner was seen downfield blocking for his running backs. With just under five minutes left on the clock in the 4th quarter, Skinner held off a defender downfield, springing De'Angelo Bryant free for the extra yards for a first down and a first down. A few minutes later Skinner made another block downfield, this time springing Bryant free for a 19-yard touchdown.
Skinner's blocking impressed Grobe, but certainly worried the Deacon head coach. "I've got to tell you, tonight we were just looking for a way to win the game," he said. "If it involved blocking with the quarterback, that's what we'll do." "To be honest, I thought he was a little more physical [than he had to be."] I thought he could have just got in the guy's way. But there were some pads popping out there. That's the way he is. Ben's the same way. Our quarterbacks are good kids who don't mind doing those things every once in a while."
Skinner's play and will to win, in addition to Wake's injury situation, sets the stage for Skinner to be the Deacs' primary quarterback next week against Duke.
"We've got to go with Riley because he's been practicing," Grobe said. "I think Brett [Hodges] will slide back into the backup role."
While Grobe may not have been comfortable with throwing Hodges into the mix this week, next week at Duke may be a different story if he is needed. "We've got to get Brett full speed. He threw the ball ok on Thursday. He had a little trouble on the deeper routes and the deals where he needed to show some arm strength. He looked good enough to me that by next week he could go full strength as the backup quarterback."
Wake's only other scholarship quarterback other than Mauk, Hodges, and Skinner is true freshman quarterback Zach MacDowall. "We certainly don't want to pull a shirt off of Zach MacDowall," Grobe noted. "We think he's really talented but that's not what we want to do right now if we can help it."