Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner is the winningest quarterback in school history, and one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the ACC, but in last weekend’s 24-21 loss to Baylor, Skinner didn’t play like it.
Considering Wake Forest entered the season with a veteran quarterback and offensive line, a three-deep group of running backs, and a faster, deeper group of wide receivers, the Deacs’ offense was supposed to be the strength of the team while the defense transitions with seven new starters. But drops, sacks and four turnovers showed the offense has its own problems to worry about. That will have to change quickly if Wake Forest is going to look like a formidable opponent on Saturday against Stanford, a team coach Jim Grobe said is even better than Baylor.
“We’ve got another real good challenge, and we’ll have to play a lot better to have a chance,” Grobe said. “… If we can limit some of the mental mistakes and physically take better care of the footballm then I think we’ve got a chance to be a good football team.”
Skinner made uncharacteristic mistakes with his three interceptions, and that’s a significant number for a team that is 7-9 in games which Skinner throws an interception. It was a performance reminiscent of last year’s game against Navy, during which he threw four interceptions.
The problem for Wake Forest, though, runs deeper than just Skinner’s miscues, and Grobe said on Wednesday he’s not sure those mistakes could be corrected in just one week. There were plenty of players around Skinner who failed to execute last weekend against Baylor, and while this team will need Skinner at his best in every game, he also could use a little help, starting tomorrow.
“Riley made some poor decisions,” Grobe said. “Anytime Riley Skinner doesn’t play well, we look at ourselves first. Coaches tend to look in the mirror first because he’s been around a while. If he’s doing some things he shouldn’t do, it’s his fault, but we’ve done something maybe not right. I don’t know whether he felt too much pressure, thought he had to kind of be the guy Saturday, but he didn’t play his best football.
“In several instances we had receivers not run the right routes, or in some cases, they’re all young, so they weren’t quite sure where they needed to be. They weren’t getting there as fast as they needed to. There were some windows we had available we didn’t get into as receivers, and then quite frankly a couple of times we blew pass protections and got him sacked, so it was a combination. Riley certainly didn’t play his best football, but we made some mistakes at other positions that hurt his performance some.”
The offensive line – which should’ve been a strength in that game – allowed three sacks, and Grobe and his staff demanded this week the veteran group doesn’t repeat its mistakes. More than anything, Grobe said, the receivers need some more experience.
“A couple of these kids are really young receivers, and what they need more than anything else is just playing teams with wrong colored jerseys on,” Grobe said. “I would hope that we can get most of them corrected in a week, but I’m not sure that we can.”
We’ll find out on Saturday.