- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wake Forest will be without its best offensive player for at least the next two games, and possibly for the whole month.
So who is coach Jim Grobe looking toward to replace all-everything receiver Michael Campanaro? There are several options as the Deacs prepare for life without him Saturday at Maryland.
Ragland has struggled with inconsistency this season; Davis has been injured and unable to practice for a full week since August; and Grobe is waiting on Terry to play even better. Those three players have combined for 29 receptions and no touchdowns this season -- while Campanaro has 38 himself, along with three touchdown receptions.
"Sherman Ragland is a kid that has all the ability in the world," Grobe said. "We see him kind of as a Camp guy going forward, so eventually that's the kind of role that we see Sherman Ragland filling in for, but he's got to catch the ball better. And right now he's struggling a little bit with not just running the offense but routes and catching the ball and doing all those. He's got to improve.
"Terence Davis is a real key for us. Terence has been hurt this year. He's had two separated shoulders. He's back in action. The problem he's had is he just hasn't been able to practice much, and I think this week we're going to get a full week of practice out of him for the first time since August, and I think that will be key. It would be nice if Brandon Terry stepped up for us. That's a big kid that can run and catch the football. We may even have to look at a couple freshmen going forward."
The injury bug has been particularly painful for the Deacs this season, as their top three players -- Campanaro, nose guard Nikita Whitlock (ankle) and cornerback Merrill Noel (hamstring) have missed games. Merrill has been able to play through his injury but sat out a game; Whitlock missed two. Now Campanaro will be out for three to four weeks.
When it comes down to it, missing those key players has contributed to the slow start for Wake Forest. Last season, Whitlock had 14 tackles for loss; this year he has zero. Last season, Noel led the nation with 21 pass breakups. This year, he has two. Campanaro was the only reliable threat for the Deacs this season. Davis had a big game without Campanaro last week, with six catches for 100 yards, and will have to keep that pace up.
"Every team has got two or three guys on each side of the ball that are really key, that are the big play guys, and if they're not making big plays, it's hard to estimate how much that hurts your offense or defense," Grobe said.
4hMatt Fortuna and Andrea Adelson