Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
One look at Wake Forest's numbers from the Demon Deacons' 33-30 overtime win against Duke might reveal some progress in the offense. A second look might not.
Just ask offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke.
"We weren't that good," he said. "The numbers were a little higher, but we from our perspective, still feel like we're struggling on offense."
Wake Forest scored more points against Duke than it had during the entire month of October. Last month, the Deacs were 1-2 and scored just 22 points. The difference last week, though, was good field position, four turnovers from the Blue Devils, and another game-winning performance from its defense. Wake Forest is still looking for an offensive identity heading into Saturday's homecoming game against Virginia, as the Deacs rank 101st in the FBS in total offense. In order to find it, though, they first have to find some playmakers.
"We're still waiting to see what names are emerging this year," Lobotzke said. "We're eight games in now. D.J. Boldin has emerged as a playmaker for us, but everyone else is really quiet, real quiet on offense."
It's not the first time. Wake Forest, much like Virginia Tech, is a team that knows how to win games with defense and special teams. When Wake Forest won the 2006 ACC championship, it had the worst passing offense in the league. But it had a better offensive line and a better running game. The staff didn't have to ask quarterback Riley Skinner to do too much, and that's the way they like it. But now they're struggling to establish the run, and that starts up front.
Wake Forest had five junior slated to start on the offensive line this year, but one was declared academically ineligible, and two were injured. Lobotzke, who is also the offensive line coach, has had to play a redshirt freshman at right tackle (Doug Weaver), a redshirt sophomore who made his second career start at center against Duke (Russell Nenon), and a true freshman at left guard (Joe Looney).
"They're doing their best and I'm coaching them as hard as I can," Lobotzke said, "but we like to play with old guys."
The Deacs have also been using true freshman Andrew Parker at tight end because starter Ben Wooster is still not back from his hamstring injury. And the most obvious face missing from the starting lineup has been injured placekicker Sam Swank, the school's all-time leading scorer.
In addition to finding playmakers this season, the Deacs have also been trying to adjust their playbook to their personnel. Wake ran the ball 52 times against Miami and threw it just eight.
A week later, they 43 times and attempted 31 passes.
"We're just trying to figure out who we are offensively, whether we're an I team, or we're a spread team or we're both," Lobotzke said. "That's the battle we're having right now."
Skinner said he is comfortable with a mix of both.
"I think coach Lobo has been putting together some good game plans and mixing it up and incorporating every aspect of what we've done the last couple of years and finding a way to incorporate it into one game plan," Skinner said. "We think that will make it tough on the defense and keep them on their heels. Not to say we're satisfied with where the offense is right now, we've still got to be more explosive and make those big plays we've been missing the last couple of games, but we're moving in the right direction. We've got to have all 11 guys on the field doing the right thing in order for it to work."