The maturation of Wake Forest’s offensive line will be critical this spring, as the Deacs have to replace four starters up front. As the team prepares to start its spring practices on Thursday, coach Jim Grobe said “it’s not a good confidence level right now” in the rookies.
Not only does he expect that to change, though, Grobe said this group has the potential to be even more athletic than last year’s veteran line.
“I hope to feel better after spring practice,” Grobe said. “A lot of these kids are more athletic than the kids we played this year, but they just don’t have much game experience. My honest feeling is that we can actually be improved from an athletic standpoint, but the experience is something you can’t give them. They’ve got to earn that.”
Grobe said it’s unlikely he’d gamble with a true freshman on the offensive line, though former guard Joe Looney started there as a true freshman. The good news for the Deacs is that they shouldn’t have to turn to freshmen because of the depth on the line. The staff also moved Ramon Booi from the defensive line to the offensive line, where he should have a better chance to see playing time. The Deacs also have a solid center returning in Garrick Williams. Grobe said that Williams struggles a bit with his weight, but if he can continue to improve, he’ll be the anchor of the line.
Grobe said the staff is also excited about the potential of guard Antonio Ford, who is very talented but doesn’t have a lot of experience, and tackle Daniel Blitch. Tackle Steven Chase has seen some meaningful reps in his career as a part-time starter at left tackle, but Grobe said Chase is sometimes a “knothead” who has taken his position for granted a little bit. Guard Colin Summers played sparingly at the end of 2011, but he was unsure of where to go at times, and needs some more work with the playbook.
Once this group comes together, though, Grobe said he is expecting good things.
“I really feel like last year’s class was special because they were experienced, and tough and great kids, good attitudes, all those kinds of things,” Grobe said. “But I think this group up front, I think we might find, at least from a starting five, and maybe six or seven guys, that we may not be as grizzled and tough and experienced but we might be a little bit better from an athletic standpoint.”