Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Wake Forest 'scrambling' to replace top pass rusher
By Heather Dinich
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Wake Forest was leery about playing Elon on Saturday to begin with, but facing the Phoenix will just be the beginning of about a six-week stretch without the Deacs' top pass rusher, defensive end Kyle Wilber. The one player at the position with the most experience broke a bone in his left leg in Saturday's 24-17 win over Stanford. While his stats might not reflect it -- six tackles and one sacks through the first two games -- Wilber was one of the more improved players on a defense already struggling to find replacements for their 2008 superstars. Heading into this season, the defensive line was easily the strength of the defense, and it still should be.
Coach Jim Grobe said he likes how redshirt sophomore Tristan Dorty has played at the other defensive end position in the Deacs' 4-3 defense, and said Dorty showed some positives in last weekend's win against Stanford. Grobe had just gotten comfortable with Dorty balancing out the end position with Wilber on the other side. With Wilber out, Wake Forest will likely turn to redshirt sophomore Will Wright, who hadn't taken any collegiate snaps entering this season.
"Will is kind of a physical guy, probably not the edge rusher that Kyle Wilber was," Grobe said. "And Gelo Orange is a kid we moved from linebacker to defensive end. Gelo has lots of ability, but he played a year at linebacker last year, and so learning the defensive end position is kind of new to him. We've got some young guys we're going to be taking a look at this week. Kevin Smith is a guy that we're going to look at, and maybe a couple of other guys."
Smith is a redshirt freshman out of Texas, and Orange, originally from Haiti, didn't start playing football until he was a sophomore in high school. He moved from Haiti to the United States in 2004. His mother, Geronne, still lives in Haiti. He played in all 13 games last year but didn't record any defensive statistics. He did, however, block a punt in each of the last two regular-season games.
"We've got some guys with ability, we just don't have guys with a lot of experience," Grobe said. "We're going to be scrambling this week to try to find somebody to replace Kyle."