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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Wake Forest offense a work in progress

By Andrea Adelson

Consider the triple whammy Wake Forest offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero inherited when he arrived in Winston-Salem, N.C., in December.

He had to begin teaching a totally different scheme, while working with no returning starters at the skill positions and essentially no depth at any position. After nearly 15 spring practices, Ruggiero still has more questions than answers about what his group will look like when the season begins.

Orville Reynolds
Orville Reynolds, who moved from DB to running back, is one of several players to change positions for Wake Forest this spring.
Who will start for the Deacs at quarterback?

"I have no idea who is going to play quarterback," Ruggiero said in a recent phone interview. "No one has played well enough to be a starting quarterback in the ACC at this point. We’ve got to get them there, and we’ve got to get them there fast."

Any standouts at receiver with Michael Campanaro gone?

"I don’t think there is a Campanaro," he said. "Could there be somebody potentially down the line? Sure. But right now it’s a lot of different guys each day trying to get better. Certainly nobody is an all-conference player. We have a couple of solid kids who are learning each day."

At running back, the Deacs have two scholarship players after moving Orville Reynolds to the position. Reynolds has had a solid spring, but at this point, Ruggiero says he has a running-back-by-committee situation.

Then there is the offensive line, a group that has struggled to maintain any consistency over the last two seasons. This group returns the most experience of any spot on offense, and that begs the question -- how much stock can one put into an offense where the "strength" is an inconsistent offensive line?

Wake Forest coaches knew they would be in for a challenge when they arrived. The Deacs have to replace their leading passer, rusher and receiver. That does not put them in unique territory in the league -- Clemson, Boston College and Georgia Tech must do the same this season. But what makes the situation more difficult than the others is the Deacs have both unproven players and no depth at all three positions. Boston College is a close second, but the Eagles at least have one quarterback on the roster who has started a college game in Tyler Murphy.

When the staff arrived, Ruggiero said they had one running back on scholarship and one quarterback on scholarship. That is why Reynolds was moved from flanker, and Kevin Sousa was moved from receiver to quarterback. Sousa will remain in a competition with Tyler Cameron -- the scholarship quarterback -- well into fall practice. The goal is to keep getting better every day. As Ruggiero says, the offense is a continual work in progress.

"I’m optimistic as far as who we have, what they could do, the process that is happening, I just can’t tell you that we could line up today and win the ACC championship game," Ruggiero said. "We’ve got some work to do and it’s one day at a time right now.

"I think our staff is up to the challenge. The kids come to work each day accepting the challenge. I like who we are and where we’re going, but we’ve got a long way to go, no question."