The Demon Deacons find themselves in the midst of a chop-block dispute following their victory over North Carolina last Saturday. Tar Heels defensive lineman Chase Page said he was the victim of an illegal chop block. Additionally, Florida State defensive lineman Alonzo Jackson, who was injured against Wake Forest last season, also believes he was a victim of such a block.
Chop blocks are personal fouls that result in 15-yard penalties in college football. A chop block occurs when a defender is fighting off the block of an offensive player and another offensive player hits the defender low, in his legs.
Wake Forest wasn't called for a penalty on the play in which Page was hurt, though the Demon Deacons were called for three chop blocks during the game. The Demon Deacons are at home Saturday against the struggling Seminoles.
"I definitely have a lot of animosity toward the Wake Forest (offensive) linemen because of that," Page told the Winston-Salem Journal. "I thought, 'These guys are trying to hurt me, so I'm going to try and hurt them."
Wake Forest is first in the ACC in first downs (193), second in time of possession (31:59), third in total offense (407.1 yards per game) and first in rushing offense (249.3 ypg). While FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has not accused Wake Forest of chop blocking, he and others have questioned their approach. FSU coach Bobby Bowden said he doesn't think Wake Forest players are taught to chop block
Grobe denied the charges during Wednesday's ACC teleconference and spoke at length about Wake Forest's offensive style. He also said two of his players were victims of North Carolina chop blocks, but called them unintentional.
"Well, it's just ridiculous," Grobe said of the accusations.
"In no way do we do that. First of all, you have to have two guys blocking one to end up in a chop-block situation. Our feeling is in our running game if we are wasting blockers if we've got two guys blocking one guy. We are just trying to run the football. We're a team that leads the ACC in rushing and that's by design. We want to run the football. You can't run the football by blocking people up high. That's just the way we are.
"I think North Carolina is a team that throws the football. They do a lot of drop-back passing and probably against each other a lot. I can see when you get into a week where you have a week to prepare for our running game, where we block you low, it's a tough preparation. We are not doing anything outside the rules. We are not the National Football League, and I think that's one of the best things about college football. We have a lot of different types of offenses. We're not a team that's going to drop back and throw the football 50-60 times a game.
"We primarily a team that's going to run it and we block low to do that. It's good, fundamental football. We teach our kids to play low with a flat back and a low pad level, and off the back side. If you're thought is defensively that you're going to run up the football on us and we're going to try to get you on the ground. So, it makes you have play on defense with your hands down. It makes you have to play good, technique football with your pads square, and if you're not going to do that you are going to get on the ground quite a bit. That's just the way we always played.
"When I was at the Air Force Academy, at Ohio University and here, we've got athletic offensive linemen. We don't have a lot of big, file cabinets on wheels. We've got guys who aren't very big but have fairly good athletic ability. The only way we can run the football effectively is if we block low. It has absolutely nothing to do with chop blocks. We've never chopped anybody. We've never taught that. We won't teach that. We would never try to hurt anybody, but we do block low. We are a good, fundamental offensive line and that's the way we play.
"(We had) two people chopped by North Carolina. I don't think anyway in the world they are teaching that. But some things just happen. Our job offensively is to run the football and in order to do that, we're going to teach good fundamentals in our offensive line."
Cut blocking, or blocking below the waist, is legal at the line of scrimmage.
"They really stretch you defensively with misdirection and angle blocks," Andrews told the Tallahassee Democrat. "Very seldom do they ask a lineman to reach back and knock you off the line. A lot of cutting. A lot of it, you know, I don't know why it's allowed in football to begin with. Diving at somebody's knee, cutting them like that. We don't make the rules. That's their type of football. You just hope you go out there and play low and play hard and come out of the game healthy."
North Carolina coach John Bunting said that the blocks are dangerous and that he has seen careers end because of them.
"We had three called in the game," Bunting said. "There probably could have been some more. I know one thing: I won't allow it to be coached on this football team. I'm not going to comment on Wake Forest."
Upon review of Saturday's game film, Grobe said he still can't understand why his Deacons were called for three chop blocks against North Carolina. Grobe implied that the officials were reacting to complaints by Bunting.
Chop block controversy aside, the Seminoles are expected to be in a tussle against the Demon Deacs. The confidence level appears to be at an all-time high for any Wake Forest team going up against Florida State, a program that the Deacons have yet to beat since it joined the conference in 1992. In fact, the Seminoles' average margin of victory in the 10 games is 36 points, and none of the games has really been in doubt in the fourth quarter.
"They've definitely proved that they're beatable this year," Wake Forest James MacPherson told the Winston-Salem Journal. . "We're preparing going into this week to win this game, and we've got a good shot to win this game. This would be big for our program and for Wake Forest. Everybody on our team is really focused and locked in on having a really solid week of practice."