ACC: Garrick Williams

Wake Forest spring wrap

May, 7, 2013
5/07/13
5:00
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2012 record: 5-7

2012 conference record: 3-5 (fourth in the Atlantic Division)

Returning starters: Offense: 8; Defense: 8; Kicker/punter: 2

Top returners:

QB Tanner Price, WR Michael Campanaro, TB Josh Harris, G Frank Souza, G Antonio Ford, CB Kevin Johnson, CB Merrill Noel, FS A.J. Marshall, LB Justin Jackson, LB Mike Olson, NG Nikita Whitlock, DE Zach Thompson

Key losses:

FB Tommy Bohanon, C Garrick Williams, LB Joey Ehrmann, LB Riley Haynes, CB Kenny Okoro

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Harris* (608 yards)

Passing: Price* (2,300)

Receiving: Campanaro* (763 yards)

Tackles: Jackson* (81)

Sacks: Jackson* (4)

Interceptions: Johnson* (3)

Spring answers:

1. Camp’s complement: An ankle injury to Campanaro opened the door for Orville Reynolds to emerge as a dependable No. 2 receiver. Reynolds was voted by his teammates as the most improved player on offense this spring. The staff is trying to get the receivers more involved in the running game, and Reynolds, a converted running back, could be the perfect match for it.

2. Depth on defense: The defensive line found a solid rotation two-deep, and the linebackers emerged as a group that should be the strength of the defense this season. Inside linebacker Brandon Chubb had a particularly good spring and got some first-team reps at the expense of Olson, who had some nagging shoulder issues.

3. Opting for the option: The Deacs have changed their offense to incorporate more option and get Price running more. Offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke said the staff is interested in integrating standard spread-option runs, zone reads and quarterback draws.

Fall questions:

1. The offensive line. It’s the biggest concern on the team, and was the weak link last season. With so many injuries in 2012 that carried into the spring, there was little time for a five-step drop, and Price was constantly making throws under pressure. Until this group is solidified, Lobotzke won’t rest easy.

2. Impact freshmen. The redshirting policy is on hold for now, as the staff has made it clear that they are willing to play whomever is capable of helping the team win now. True freshmen will be given a legitimate chance to contribute immediately, but until they arrive this summer, nobody knows who or how many will contribute.

3. Can running back Josh Harris be consistent? Harris made a name for himself in 2010 when, in his first career start, he ran for 241 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries against Virginia Tech. Since then he has battled injuries and his durability has come into question. Now, as a redshirt senior, he has a chance to lead the Deacs’ ground game, but can he stay healthy enough and be consistent enough to reassert himself as one of the ACC’s best backs?
BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring start: Feb. 28

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. The transition: Introductions will be necessary as first-year coach Steve Addazio takes over. The good news is that offensive coordinator Ryan Day is a familiar face as he was the receivers coach under Frank Spaziani. He should work well with quarterback Chase Rettig.
  2. The front seven. There used to be a time when BC’s defense was one of the best in the country. It wasn’t last year. The Eagles were No. 111 in the country in rushing defense and No. 120 in sacks and tackles for loss. First-year coordinator Don Brown has some work to do.
  3. The running backs. They were an inconsistent group last year as BC ranked No. 115 in the country in rushing offense at 90.92 yards per game. All of the key contributors return, including leading rusher Andre Williams, but the group has to do a better job of taking pressure off of Rettig.
CLEMSON

Spring start: March 6

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. Defensive progress: This is the second spring under coordinator Brent Venables, and the defense is the missing piece to the program becoming a contender on the national level. The defensive backs will have the most to prove as three starters have to be replaced.
  2. The new playmakers: Clemson lost two big names on offense in receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who left early for the NFL, and running back Andre Ellington. There is plenty of talent remaining in the wings, but it has to step out of the shadows this spring.
  3. Front and center: The Tigers return four starters to the offensive line, but have to replace their anchor in veteran center Dalton Freeman. While quarterback Tajh Boyd returns, the communication with the new center will be critical for calls and snaps.
FLORIDA STATE

Spring start: Mar. 20

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. The QB battle: It's a three-way race to replace EJ Manuel, and while Clint Trickett will enter spring practice as the nominal No. 1, there's no clear favorite to win the job. Sophomore Jacob Coker has perhaps the best mix of arm strength, athleticism and experience, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston was the country's top QB recruit two years ago and could blossom into a superstar.
  2. The new coaches. There will be a much different feel on the practice fields at FSU this spring with six new assistant coaches running the show. Four of the assistants have previous coordinator experience, making it a veteran group, and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt brings an Alabama pedigree to a unit that was already among the best in the nation.
  3. The new faces. A year ago, there weren't a ton of jobs open in the spring thanks to a hefty dose of veterans. Things are different this time around, meaning youngsters like WR Kelvin Benjamin, DE Mario Edwards Jr. and CB Ronald Darby will get their opportunities to solidify key roles on this year's team.
MARYLAND

Spring start: March 2

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:
  1. Quarterbacks. The Terps’ unprecedented run of injuries at the position was one of the ACC’s biggest storylines last year. C.J. Brown, the projected starter, will be limited and won’t play in the spring game, but he can throw and participate in some drills. Ricardo Young, who sat out all year after transferring, will be the top healthy quarterback on the roster this spring and take the majority of the snaps. He played for offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at New Mexico and is familiar with the system. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe aren’t nearly as ready or healthy as Brown is. Dustin Dailey, who also sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules, is healthy and available.
  2. Early enrollees: Three recruits enrolled early, including two junior college transfers who can help immediately. Maryland fans should be eager to see how junior college transfer Deon Long, a receiver, adds to the offense. Silvano Altamirano, another junior college transfer, will compete immediately for playing time at offensive guard.
  3. Defensive competition: Maryland has some big names to replace in defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, and middle linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, all of whom were mainstays on the defense. Cole Farrand will be the veteran linebacker now, and Darius Kilgo is the only returning starter on the defensive line.
NC STATE

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. The quarterback competition. The Mike Glennon era is over, and Manny Stocker and Pete Thomas are the top options to replace him. Thomas, a former transfer from Colorado State, was a two-year starter there and threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns. Stocker, a sophomore, has yet to take a collegiate snap.
  2. The staff transition. First-year coach Dave Doeren is taking over and he has hired an almost entirely new staff. How the players adjust to the change in terminology, schemes and personalities will be critical to the transition.
  3. A revamped secondary: NC State will have to replace three starters, including Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and David Amerson, the school’s career interception leader. Cornerback Dontae Johnson returns, along with Juston Burris, who played in the nickel package. There are also several redshirts and younger players who will compete.
SYRACUSE

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Staff changes: First-year coach Scott Shafer, who replaced Doug Marrone, has been with the program for four years, so it’s not a drastic change for the players, but it is Shafer’s first as a head coach. He has a chance to put his stamp on the program as it enters the first season in the ACC.
  2. Quarterback competition: The Orange have to replace record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib, and it’s a wide-open competition. Backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt are the top candidates, but Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.
  3. Replacing SS Shamarko Thomas: The Orange have to replace their leading tackler and top defender, as Thomas had 84 tackles last year. He was a game-changer who also had two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He was a first-team All-Big East selection.
WAKE FOREST

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. The health of the O-line: Wake was hit hard by injuries last year, and keeping this group healthy this offseason will be critical. The Deacs only lost one senior -- center Garrick Williams, but last year injuries forced the staff to play a significant number of redshirt freshmen, which it doesn’t like to do. Whit Barnes, for example, started 11 games at left guard. He was supposed to be a backup center.
  2. Camp’s complement: The Deacs have to find a complement to star receiver Michael Campanaro. He’s the go-to guy, but quarterback Tanner Price needs a few more reliable targets to emerge this spring. Sherman Ragland, Matt James, Brandon Terry and Airyn Willis are all options.
  3. Improving inside: The Deacs’ inside linebackers need a boost after losing Riley Haynes and Scott Betros. Redshirt junior Mike Olson will be a starter, but Wake needs to find another starter there and develop some dependable backups.
Wake Forest knew it would have some major question marks on the offensive line this season, with four new starters up front.

But coach Jim Grobe felt if could keep everybody healthy, his group would be able to hold its own. Unfortunately for the Deacs, that has not been the case, and the prospects for the remainder of the season look bleak. Grobe said this week that starter Antonio Ford is out for the season with a broken leg, an injury sustained in a loss to Maryland last week.

Another starter, Steven Chase, has been playing with a torn ACL. Wake Forest was without starting guard Frank Souza last week because of a suspension, so the injury to Ford really left Grobe's line depleted.

"We've got issues, there's no question," Grobe said. "We went into the season feeling like we'd have five pretty good guys up front. Thought if we could keep guys healthy we would be actually pretty good, even better than competitive. But right away, second practice, Steven Chase tears his ACL, and then Antonio Ford broke his leg. Our senior center (Garrick Williams) is playing pretty good, and we thought he would. But the other four, Steven Chase and Antonio Ford are arguably our two best offensive linemen. Steven is coming back now trying to play with that ACL, and really for a guy with an ACL is hanging in there pretty good.

"But losing Antonio was a problem, and mainly because we had kind of repped five guys all week and really hoped to keep those five on the field, and so as soon as Antonio goes down, now we're putting in, kind of moving guys around, putting young guys back out there again."

Grobe said he has never had a lineman play with a torn ACL, but the Deacs do not have much choice, so long as doctors have Chase cleared to play. During the bye this week, Grobe said he will be looking for the five best players to start at Virginia next week, and then hope they can all stay healthy.

"We have got depth problems and we've got some young guys playing," Grobe said. "We've got one guy, Whit Barnes, that we're really playing out of position. He's a center and we've got him playing guard. I think we'll try to over the next week and a half try to get our best five guys in there and hopefully they can give us the lion's share if not all the snaps when we go up to Virginia."
Wake Forest offensive lineman Frank Souza has been playing right guard for only a handful of months now, so you would expect the typical bumps in the road that come with completely changing positions.

Yet Souza has made a relatively smooth transition, avoiding most of the major roadblocks to win a starting job despite his limited experience playing offense.

Souza made his first career start at right guard against Liberty last week, and will be in the starting lineup again against North Carolina on Saturday. What is truly remarkable about his story is the progress he has made in such a short period of time to go from backup defensive lineman to offensive starter.

[+] EnlargeFrank Souza
Courtesy of Bob HebertThe move from defense to the offensive line by Frank Souza, center, appears to be paying off for Wake Forest.
“What we like about Frank is he's an aggressive guy and he's very coachable,” coach Jim Grobe said. “He's a guy that we think, as we go forward -- I know he's going to have some growing pains early -- but we think athletically he's a guy that can be a really good offensive lineman.”

Souza played in 18 games, with three starts, as a defensive lineman. But coaches thought he could be even better on offense, particularly with depth concerns and a glaring need to replace four starters on the line.

When coaches approached him about moving, spring practice was nearly over. He started out at left tackle. With only a handful of practices under his belt, he played in the spring game without knowing much of anything.

“I basically watched what everyone else was doing,” Souza said in a recent phone interview. “It was tough. I just tried to remember the basic kind of things as to what I was doing and if I had any questions, they told me what to do. Most of the plays were basic. I felt like I handled it well.”

After Souza returned to school for the start of offseason workouts, coaches told him they wanted him to move to right guard.

“Coach walked up to me and said, ‘I figure you don’t know the left tackle spot as it is now,’ so he walked me through everything and told me what to do,” Souza said. “That’s when I started hitting the play book to understand the right guard spot.

“I did a lot of film study, too. It helped coming from a defensive point of view. I already know as a defensive lineman what I have to do to try and beat an offensive lineman so I already have in my head what’s going on. I feel like I know the answers before they’re even there.”

Souza credits offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch for helping him understand concepts clearly. Center Garrick Williams also has been a huge help, as the lone returning starter on the offensive line and most experienced player up front.

What also has helped is his strength and size. Souza is one of the biggest players on the team at 310 pounds. As a defensive lineman, he often had to worry about his weight. Now, that is the least of his concerns.

Getting better each week -- that is his top priority.

“I feel like everyone’s excited for me,” Souza said. “I feel like I’ve picked up my new position well and my teammates and coaches realize that. I just feel good about everything.”

Opening camp: Wake Forest

August, 7, 2012
8/07/12
5:00
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We have come to the end of our preview of every ACC team headed into fall camp. Last, but never least ...

School: Wake Forest.

Started: Monday.

Predicted finish at media days: Fourth, Atlantic Division.

Biggest storyline: Can this team have a winning season? Coach Jim Grobe was asked during ACC media day whether any luster was taken off making a bowl game last season because the team finished 6-7. He answered the right way, saying it is always an accomplishment to make it to a bowl. That is particularly true when your last previous bowl appearance came in 2008. Still, there may have been a sense of falling short of their own expectations, particularly after a 4-1 start gave way to a 2-5 finish. Close losses to Syracuse, Notre Dame and Clemson -- with the Atlantic Division in the balance -- still sting. This year, Wake Forest is going to have to rely on an entirely new set of playmakers on offense, with the departures of leading rusher Brandon Pendergrass and receiver Chris Givens. Plus, only one starter returns on the offensive line. Defensively, Wake will have to do better than allowing an average of 170 yards rushing per game, and the pass rush has got to get better (only 11 sacks the entire season). The defense does return some All-ACC players in Nikita Whitlock and a rising star in Merrill "Bud" Noel, but there is no question this team has to get better everywhere.

Biggest position battle: Offensive line. This is the unit that has the biggest question mark by far is this group, with four starters gone from a year ago. Center Garrick Williams is the only returner, but there could be some good news with the replacements who are coming in. Remember, the offensive line did give up 35 sacks last year to rank No. 100 in the nation. Frank Souza moved over from the defensive line and impressed the coaches right from the outset and is competing for a starting job. Grobe seems happy with Colin Summers, Antonio Ford and Steven Chase. But right guard seems to be up for grabs. Daniel Blitch played there with the first team in the spring, but the competition is open this fall. Grobe has not ruled out moving Souza to the position, if necessary.

Who needs to step up: Michael Campanaro. Givens was a star for the Deacs last season, leading the ACC with 1,330 yards and catching nine touchdown passes. Campanaro did well himself, with 883 yards receiving but he was not really the big-play threat that Givens was. Now all eyes are going to be on him to see whether he will be the hands-down go-to player for quarterback Tanner Price, and whether he has the ability to stretch the field more than he did a year ago.
Week 11: Nov. 17 vs. Wake Forest (at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.)

Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Series: Notre Dame leads all-time, 1-0

2011 record: 6-7 (5-3 ACC; tied second place, Atlantic Division)

Head coach: Jim Grobe (68-67, 11 years)

Returning starters: Offense: 3; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Tanner Price, WR Michael Campanaro, C Garrick Williams, DE Zach Thompson, NG Nikita Whitlock, OLB Joey Ehrmann, ILB Scott Betros, ILB Riley Haynes, CB Merrill Noel, FS Kenny Okoro

Key losses

RB Brandon Pendergrass, WR Chris Givens, TE Cameron Ford, T Dennis Godfrey, T Doug Weaver, G Joe Looney, G Michael Hoag, DE Tristan Dorty, DE Kyle Wilber, SS Cyhl Quarles, FS Josh Bush

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Brandon Pendergrass (823 yards)

Passing: Tanner Price* (3,017 yards)

Receiving: Chris Givens (1,330 yards)

Tackles: Cyhl Quarles (101)

Sacks: Kyle Wilber/Nikita Whitlock* (3.5)

Interceptions: Josh Bush (6)

Three questions for ... ACC blogger Heather Dinich:

Wake returns plenty of talent at the skill positions, but it is tasked with replacing four starters on the offensive line. What's a realistic timeline for the newcomers to jell and form a cohesive unit?



Heather Dinich: Well, it’s more like three starters at this point, because Steven Chase, who missed the spring for undisclosed reasons, has since returned. The group also got a huge boost from the move of Frank Souza from the defensive line. Chase’s return has allowed the staff a little more flexibility with the depth chart. He or Souza -- whoever develops into the better pass protector — will likely slide into the right guard position. Souza was backup to talented noseguard Nikita Whitlock and saw the writing on the wall: Whitlock wasn’t coming off the field anytime soon. So he jumped at the opportunity to see more snaps on offense. Coach Jim Grobe told me they “hit a home run with Souza.” Right now he’s got five guys he’s comfortable with. Depth? That’s another question.



Head coach Jim Grobe rarely has much staff turnover, but three new assistants are aboard for 2012. What's new, and how will that translate on the field this season?



HD: Yes, the Deacs have long been one of the most stable staffs in the ACC, but there are a few new faces in new positions, and I think overall, it will make Wake Forest a better team. Tim Duffie will be in his first season coaching the secondary, and he has lots of talent to work with back there, particularly at the corner position. Jonathan Himebauch is in his first year coaching the offensive line, and Derrick Jackson is in his first season coaching the outside linebackers. The move of OC Steed Lobotzke to tight ends and fullbacks should help him manage his time better as a coordinator because he won’t have to deal with so many offensive linemen.



The Deacs surprised everyone but themselves last season, falling a field goal short of playing for the ACC title. There are obvious shortcomings (O-line, secondary) on this year's roster, but will they be able to overcome those and make another push at a division crown?

HD: If they did it last year, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be able to make another run at it. They’ve got to be able to win those close games, though. The close losses to Syracuse, Clemson -- and of course Notre Dame -- are still stinging, and just about anyone in that program will tell you they could’ve played better against UNC. Jim Grobe has a very good football team to work with this year, and he has a defense that could be reminiscent of the old days with Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith. There are some diamonds in that group, they’re just not very experienced. It wouldn’t be wise, though, for Wake Forest opponents to take this year’s team lightly.

One good reason: Wake Forest

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
2:30
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WAKE FOREST

We’ve reached the end. If you don’t know by now what this series is, pay better attention. Last but not least, I present the Deacs:

The series concludes today with one good reason why …

Wake Forest will win the Atlantic Division. Gems on defense. Wake Forest has several talented players on defense who don’t get a lot of ink, but are legitimate all-conference candidates who can make game-changing plays. Cornerback Merrill “Bud” Noel is coming off a season in which he was named the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year and led the country in pass deflections with 19. Noseguard Nikita Whitlock had a breakout season last year in which he led the Deacons in tackles for loss (14.0) and tied for the team lead in quarterback sacks (3.5). He also had 64 tackles. Whitlock is a little bit undersized for his position, but he compensates for it with his quickness. Three of four starters return at linebacker, including Scott Betros, who led the group with 59 tackles last year.

Why it won’t: Eight starters must be replaced on offense. Most importantly, the Deacs have to replace four starters on the offensive line -- questions that didn’t entirely get answered this spring. Center Garrick Williams is the lone returning starter up front. In addition, Wake Forest also must replace its leading rusher and four of its top six receivers. Coach Jim Grobe has said he wants to improve the ground game this year, and that could be difficult considering the offensive overhaul. Tailback Josh Harris enters the fall as the likely starter, but his durability has been a question and he has suffered from a nagging hamstring injury throughout his career.

More in this series
Our series concludes today with the Demon Deacons, who, like many in the ACC this season, have to shore up their offensive line.

For a complete recap of the series, click here.

Wake Forest: C Garrick Williams

2011 stats: Williams played in all 13 games last season, starting in 11.

What he means to the Demon Deacons: Williams performed well during his first season as a starter, but he also had the benefit of playing alongside four fourth- or fifth-year players. Now, there is no safety net. Williams is the lone returning starter to a unit that is rebuilding, one that will be charged with protecting enough skill position players for the Deacs to think they can repeat their surprising 2011 season. Coach Jim Grobe has said coming out of spring that he's comfortable with three spots on the line: Williams in the middle, Colin Summers at right tackle and Antonio Ford at left guard. Williams is the leader of the group, and his presence cannot be overstated.

Wake Forest spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
6:00
AM ET
2011 overall record: 6-7

2011 conference record: 5-3 (T-2nd, Atlantic)

Returning starters

Offense: 3; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Tanner Price, WR Michael Campanaro, C Garrick Williams, DE Zach Thompson, NG Nikita Whitlock, OLB Joey Ehrmann, ILB Scott Betros, ILB Riley Haynes, CB Merrill Noel, FS Kenny Okoro

Key losses

WR Chris Givens, T Dennis Godfrey, T Doug Weaver, G Joe Looney, G Michael Hoag, TE Cameron Ford, RB Brandon Pendergrass, DE Tristan Dorty, DE Kyle Wilber, SS Cyhl Quarles, FS Josh Bush

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Brandon Pendergrass (823 yards)

Passing: Tanner Price* (3,017 yards)

Receiving: Chris Givens (1,330 yards)

Tackles: Cyhl Quarles (101)

Sacks: Kyle Wilber/Nikita Whitlock* (3.5)

Interceptions: Josh Bush (6)

Spring answers

1. Tanner Price: As a sophomore last season, Price threw for more than 3,000 yards to go with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. Coach Jim Grobe has challenged Price to improve on his accuracy, especially on underneath passes, and if the quarterback can build off last season's 60-percent completion rate, the Demon Deacons should be just fine under center.

2. Skill players: Michael Campanaro is sliding into the go-to target shoes left behind by Chris Givens, shifting the focus to who will be the Deacs' No. 2 receiver. Josh Harris has been healthy all spring and should add a boost to a backfield that returns Orville Reynolds and DeAndre Martin. Deep? Not exactly. But Wake knows what it has in its skill-position players, and has enough weapons around Price for the quarterback to make a jump in his junior year. This spring has helped ease some concerns.

3. Front seven: The Deacs return a majority of their front-seven, including second-team All-ACC nose guard Nikita Whitlock. Grobe has praised the overall speed and depth of the defense as a whole, and he expects the team to be better on that side of the ball. Look for more pressure this season in new outside linebacker coach Derrick Jackson's first year on staff.

Fall questions

1. Offensive line: There's no sugar-coating this one: If Wake wants to repeat its surprising 2011 season -- one that saw it come within a field goal of playing for the ACC title -- it needs to find some answers up front. The line is replacing four starters. Grobe said coming out of spring that he feels comfortable about three spots at the moment, but the Deacs will need more than that if they want to get the most out of their skill players.

2. New staff: Grobe has had little turnover in his 11 years at Wake Forest, but he hired three new assistants this offseason -- Jackson, Jonathan Himebauch (offensive line) and Tim Duffie (secondary). The fresh blood, Grobe said, led to much more energy this spring, but the biggest tests will obviously come in-season.

3. Secondary. Speaking of Duffie, he'll have his work cut out for him in Year 1. Both safeties are gone, including Josh Bush, now with the Jets. Experience at cornerback will help ease the transition for the secondary, but building depth at safety could be an issue.
Despite its 6-7 overall record in 2011, Wake Forest came within a field goal from playing for the ACC title. With key pieces such as two-year starting quarterback Tanner Price returning, the Demon Deacons are looking to build off that success in 2012. Here, head coach Jim Grobe talks about expectations entering his 12th year leading the program.

The offensive line is replacing four starters. How important was the spring season for them from a developmental standpoint?

Jim Grobe: Well I thought it was really good. I think we've got three kids going forward that we can count on: Garrick Williams, our center, started for us last year so we feel really good about him. I think Colin Summers, our right tackle, is a kid who has the potential to be one of the better offensive linemen in the league, as does Antonio Ford, our left guard. I think all three of those kids really have the ability to get the job done for us. And then the rest of it's gonna be a toss-up. I think we've got some talented kids. I think Dylan Heartsill's a kid that's had some back issues at left tackle but we have great hopes for him and hopefully he'll get healthy. So we moved Frank Souza over to left tackle from nose guard -- he was backing up Nikita Whitlock on defense and we didn't feel like there was much future in that. So we moved Frank over to left tackle. I think that's gonna be a great move for us, he looked really good the last half of the spring.

We need somebody to step up at right guard; I'm hopeful that [Daniel] Blitch or [Dylan] Intemann or one of the younger guys will be that guy, so it's kind of a mixed bag. We don't have a starting five yet but I think three of those guys are really good players. If we can get a couple more guys to step up I think we can at least put a really good starting five on the field at the start of the year.

You know what you have under center in Tanner Price. Going into his third year now, what kind of strides does he need to make to take the next step?

[+] EnlargeJim Grobe
AP Photo/Nick WassJim Grobe says the goal is for Wake Forest to try to get back to a bowl game and to possibly make another run at the ACC title.
JG: Well it's huge when you've got your quarterback coming back, especially if he's a good one. I think Tanner thew for a little over 3,000 [yards] last year, [20] touchdowns, only had six picks. So he's a guy that takes pretty good care of the football. Really smart guy. a lot of Riley Skinner-type intangible stuff with Tanner. Tanner's got a more live arm than Riley had but he doesn't do as good of a job on the underneath stuff, and I think that's where his biggest improvements needs to come and I think we saw that this spring. We really challenged him to be a little more accurate with the touch stuff and I think we saw that this spring. I think he just looked better to me this spring than he did last fall and I thought he did good things last fall. So his biggest deal is just gonna be completion percentage. If we can bump that completion percentage up, we've got a guy that can win games for us.

It's been said that Michael Campanaro be that go-to guy for him, with Chris Givens now gone. Is finding a No. 2 target more pressing right now? Who has stood out in that role for you?

JG: Yeah I think so. I don't think there's any question. That's my concern. I think Campanero, you look at Chris last year, but in reality we had two guys -- Camp, he didn't catch as many balls as Chris, but he was close. They were really a 1-2 punch for us last year, so I think Camp, if he stays healthy, is ready for a big big year. So the key for us is we've gotta find some body else. If Camp's the only guy we've got to go to then defense are gonna make it really tough on us. So a guy like Terence Davis, Matt James, Brandon Terry, Sherman Ragland -- somebody in that group's gotta step up and kind of balance things out so that they can't just double-cover Camp and leave those other guys alone.

(Read full post)

Wake's O-line a question going into spring

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
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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.”

Offseason spotlight: Wake Forest

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
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Our offseason spotlight series concludes today with Wake Forest. A reminder: This series features individual players, position groups and coaches who really need to have big offseasons -- starting this spring.

Spotlight: Offensive line

2011 summary: The Deacs were an average group up front last year, and they gave up too many sacks (35). Still, it was a talented, veteran lineup led by guard Joe Looney, who was Wake Forest's highest-rated offensive lineman in 2011. Looney graded out at 86 percent for the season and led the team with 79.5 knockdown blocks. Center Garrick Williams made progress in his first season as a starter, but he was also helped by the fact he was surrounded by three redshirt seniors and one senior in Looney.

The skinny: Williams is the lone returning starter, while the rest of the depth chart remains a question. Depth isn’t a problem, but experience is. Ramon Booi moved from the defensive line to the offensive line, where he’s more likely to see playing time. Guard Antonio Ford and tackle Daniel Blitch both have a lot of potential, and tackle Steven Chase has seen some meaningful reps.

ACC injury reports: Week 8

October, 21, 2011
10/21/11
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BOSTON COLLEGE

Out
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DT Connor Wujciak (shoulder)
TB Montel Harris (knee)
DL Kaleb Ramsey (foot)
RB Tahj Kimble (head)
DT Dillon Quinn (shoulder)

Probable
OG Nate Richman (back)

CLEMSON

Out
Joe Gore, DE, Knee
Spencer Benton, PK, shoulder
Tony Steward, LB, Knee

DUKE

Probable
WR Brandon Braxton (head)
S August Campbell (leg)

Questionable
C Dave Harding (leg)
C Brian Moore (arm)
WR Donovan Varner (leg)
CB Johnny Williams (leg)

Out
S Lee Butler (leg)
QB Brandon Connette (upper body)

Out for season
TE Jack Farrell (leg)
DE Kenny Anunike (leg)

FLORIDA STATE

Out
OT Andrew Datko (shoulder)
OG David Spurlock (knee)
OG Henry Orelus (head)
WR Willie Haulstead (head)
WR Josh Gehres (knee)
DT Darious Cummings (hand)
DT Moses McCray (knee)

Questionable
WR Rashad Greene (ankle)

Out for season
DT Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)
RB Chris Thompson (back)

GEORGIA TECH

Probable
Jeremiah Attaochu, LB

Out

Tyler Morgan, LS

Out for the season

Fred Holton, S
Jimmie Kitchen, DL
Lance Richardson, S

MARYLAND

Out for the season
WR Tyrek Cheeseboro
OL Andrew Gonnella
DB Avery Graham
LB Garrett Lederman
DB Matt Robinson
DL Isaiah Ross
TE Dave Stinebaugh

Out
DL Justin Anderson
WR Kevin Dorsey
OL Justin Gilbert
LB Shaquan Virgil

Doubtful
LB Demetrius Hartsfield
LB Kenny Tate

Questionable
DL Andre Monroe

Probable
OL Pete White

MIAMI

Out
Luther Robinson - Lower Extremity
Shayon Green - Lower Extremity
Curtis Porter - Upper Extremity
Rashawn Scott - Upper Extremity

Surgery/Out for the season
Marcus Forston - Lower Extremity
Ramon Buchanan - Lower Extremity
Cory White - Lower Extremity
Erik Lichter - Upper Extremity
Blake Ayles - Upper Extremity

NORTH CAROLINA

Out
Casey Barth, PK Thigh
Curtis Byrd, FB Knee
Kiaro Holts, OT Wrist
Devon Ramsay, FB Knee

Questionable
T.J. Leifheit, OT Ankle

Probable
Giovani Bernard, TB Hip
A.J. Blue, TB Ankle
Erik Highsmith, WR Ankle
Cam Holland, C Back
Jonathan Smith, S Ankle

NC STATE

Out for the season
Jarvis Byrd, CB - knee
Mustafa Greene, HB - foot
Sterling Lucas, LB - knee

Out
Taylor Gentry, FB - foot
Jake Kahut, DE - knee
Jeff Rieskamp, DE - shoulder
Thomas Teal, DT - foot
Curtis Underwood, HB - foot

Questionable
D.J. Green, LB - abdomen
J.R. Sweezy, DT - foot

VIRGINIA

Out
Pablo Alvarez (upper extremity)
Diamonte Bailey (lower extremity)
Darius Lee (upper extremity)
Charlie Richards (upper extremity)
E.J. Scott (medical)
Bobby Smith (lower extremity)
Tyler Smith (lower extremity)
Matt Snyder (lower extremity)
Joseph Williams (lower extremity)

Doubtful
Tim Cwalina (lower extremity)
Michael Terrell (lower extremity)

Questionable
Brian Oden (lower extremity)

Probable
Luke Bowanko (lower extremity)
Henry Coley (lower extremity)
Cam Johnson (lower extremity)
Jake McGee (lower extremity)
Clifton Richardson (lower extremity)
Michael Rocco (trunk)

VIRGINIA TECH

Out for the Season
Kwamaine Battle (knee)
Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (foot)
Antoine Hopkins (knee)
Dyrell Roberts (arm)
E.L. Smiling (wrist)

Out
Eric Martin (shoulder)
Mark Shuman (knee/ankle)
David Wang (foot)

Doubtful
Jayron Hosley (hamstring)

WAKE FOREST

Probable
RB Josh Harris (leg)
TE Andrew Parker (ankle)
DT Tristan Dorty (ankle)
C Garrick Williams (ankle)
NT Duke Mosby (illness)

Out
NT Ramon Booi (knee)
DT John Gallagher (back)

Out for the season
OT Dylan Heartsil (back)
CB Dominique Tate (knee)
LB Kyle Jarrett (hip)
Tags:

Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Miami Hurricanes, ACC, Casey Barth, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Donovan Varner, Dillon Quinn, Sterling Lucas, Matt Robinson, Justin Gilbert, Justin Anderson, Ramon Buchanan, Kwamaine Battle, Dyrell ROberts, Tristan Dorty, Demetrius Hartsfield, Marcus Forston, Andrew Gonnella, Jeff Rieskamp, Cam Johnson, Montel Harris, Antoine Hopkins, Andrew Datko, Matt Snyder, Kevin Dorsey, Spencer Benton, Johnny Williams, Devon Ramsay, Andrew Parker, Dave Harding, Josh Gehres, Jacobbi McDaniel, David Wang, Kenny Tate, Cam Holland, Luther Robinson, Taylor Gentry, Moses McCray, Chris Thompson, Kenny Anunike, Willie Haulstead, Ifeanyi Momah, Kaleb Ramsey, Lee Butler, David Spurlock, Pete White, Cory White, Shayon Green, Bobby Smith, Erik Highsmith, Isaiah Ross, Curtis Porter, Jayron Hosley, Tyler Smith, Jake McGee, Jeremiah Attaochu, Mustafa Greene, Curtis Underwood, Michael Rocco, Brandon Connette, Clifton Richardson, T.J. Leifheit, J.R. Sweezy, Ramon Booi, John Gallagher, Dominique Tate, Josh Harris, Garrick Williams, Jarvis Byrd, Brandon Braxton, Giovani Bernard, August Campbell, Jonathan Smith, Henry Orelus, Eric Martin, Brian Oden, Tony Steward, Brian Moore, Fred Holton, D.J. Green, Blake Ayles, Dave Stinebaugh, Avery Graham, Henry Coley, Luke Bowanko, Rashawn Scott, E.L. Smiling, Pablo Alvarez, Curtis Byrd, Tahj Kimble, Mark Shuman, Rashad Greene, Thomas Teal, Tim Cwalina, Darius Lee, Jack Farrell, Jimmie Kitchen, Kiaro Holts, Connor Wujciak, Nate Richman, Andre Monroe, Darious Cummings, Garrett Lederman, Shaquan Virgil, Tyler Morgan, Erik LIchter, Charlie Richards, E.J. SCott, Dylan Heartsil, Kyle Jarrett, Tyrek Cheeseboro, Lance Richardson, Duke Mosby, Diamonte Bailey, Joseph Williams, Michael Terrell, Jake Kahut

Week 3: Did you know?

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
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Thanks to the sports information directors throughout the league for this week’s nifty notes:

ACC: The top two tacklers in the nation and three of the top four are currently from the ACC. Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the nation in tackles with 17.5 per game, but Maryland linebacker Darin Drakeford is right behind him, after making 14 hits in the Terps’ 32-24 win over Miami on Labor Day. Terps’ linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield is in a four-way tie for fourth, having made 13 tackles against the Hurricanes. – ACC game notes

BOSTON COLLEGE: Boston College’s defense has so far faced opponents who have run the ball 67 percent of the time. Northwestern and Central Florida combined to record 99 rushing attempts times out of 148 total plays called. They combined for 462 yards on the ground, six touchdowns and averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 231 yards per game. The Eagles led the nation in rushing defense last season. – BC game notes

CLEMSON: When Clemson hosts Auburn on Saturday, it will be just the third time the defending national champion has come to Clemson and the ACC Tigers have won each of the previous two occasions. Clemson defeated Georgia in 1981 (13-3) after the Bulldogs won the 1980 title and downed Georgia Tech (9-7) in 1991 after Bobby Ross’s team won the 1990 UPI National Championship. Each of those two previous meetings with the defending champ at Clemson took place in the third game of the season. When the Tigers downed Georgia Tech in 1991, Georgia Tech was 19th in the nation entering the game, the same ranking for Auburn this weekend.- Tim Bourret

DUKE: Led by redshirt senior nose guard Charlie Hatcher, Duke is using an 11-man rotation along its defensive line. Hatcher is the lone lineman playing his final season of eligibility as the group includes six redshirt freshmen, two redshirt sophomores and two redshirt juniors. – Art Chase

FLORIDA STATE: FSU is 3-3 at home when ESPN’s College GameDay crew is on campus, including the only previous time the Seminoles have hosted a top-ranked team at home. That was in 1996, when No. 2 Florida State knocked off No. 1 Florida, 24-21, securing a Sugar Bowl berth and a shot at the national championship. That victory remains the Seminoles’ lone win against an AP top-ranked opponent. FSU is 1-5 all-time against teams ranked No. 1. – Bob Thomas

GEORGIA TECH: Quarterback Tevin Washington’s pass efficiency rating is currently 329.7. He has completed 13 of 21 passes for 473 yards and five touchdowns. Washington leads the ACC this week in pass efficiency rating, but falls nine pass attempts short of the NCAA minimum to qualify. – ACC game notes

MARYLAND: After going 41 games without scoring via a fumble return or interception return (Erin Henderson in 2006 vs. Virginia), Maryland has scored eight defensive touchdowns in the past 17games, including a pair against Miami in the Terps’ 31-24 Labor Day win. Joe Vellano returned a fumble 30 yards for a score and Cameron Chism had a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown. – Shawn Nestor

MIAMI: Miami’s 172 rushing yards at Maryland was the Hurricanes’ most in a road opener since also rushing for 172 in a win on Sept. 23, 2004 at Houston.- Miami game notes

NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina leads the ACC and ranks third in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 30 yards per game. Virginia Tech is second at 51 yards per game. Last week, Carolina’s defense held Rutgers to just 1 yard rushing. The Scarlet Knights had five different players rush a combined 21 times for 18 net yards, but quarterback Chas Dodd was sacked four times for 17 yards. The 1 yard rushing is the fewest by an opponent since Wake Forest rushed for minus two yards in 2000. – Kevin Best

NC STATE: The Wolfpack’s shorthanded D gave up 337 passing yards and 438 yards of total offense to Wake Forest. In the opener, Liberty gained 406 yards of total offense. The good news? NC State is tied for second in the nation this week with five interceptions. - NCSU game notes

VIRGINIA: On Sept. 7, Virginia offensive lineman Oday Aboushi was one of 12 Muslim-American athletes invited to Washington, D.C. by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Department of State to commemorate Eid ul-Fitr, the three-day celebration at the end of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting. Other athletes at the reception included Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, former NFL offensive lineman Ephraim Salaam and professional boxer Amir Khan. A 6-6, 310-pound junior from Staten Island, N.Y., Aboushi’s parents are Palestinians who immigrated to the United States. “I was very humbled to be there,” said Aboushi, who had the chance to meet and talk with Clinton at the event. “Hearing everybody else’s stories of being Muslim athletes around the nation was really inspiring and will help me to get better.” – Jim Daves

VIRGINIA TECH: Opponents have been charged with a just one penalty during the first two games. – Hokies’ game notes

WAKE FOREST: Wake Forest’s offensive line starters, weighing in at a collective 1,570 pounds, is the biggest line in school history. Guards Joe Looney (320) and Mike Hoag (305), tackles Dennis Godfrey (315) and Doug Weaver (320) and center Garrick Williams (310) are all over 300 pounds. The five starters average 314 pounds per man. The next largest line in school history was the 1998 line consisting of guards Brian Wolverton (310) and Sam Settar (328), tackles Jeff Flowe and Michael Collins, and center Marlon Curtis (287), who combined for 1,568 pounds of 313.6 per man. – Steve Shutt
Ranking offensive linemen is not easy. But hey, either is being an offensive lineman. Here are your best "big uglies."

1. North Carolina: Three starters and one part-time starter return from last year’s team, and this line could be the biggest and best since Butch Davis was hired. Guard Jonathan Cooper (22 starts), center Cam Holland (20) and tackle James Hurst (12) have combined for 54 career starts. Travis Bond has four starts and is the leading candidate to take over at the other guard position.

2. Miami: The Canes return nine of their top 10 offensive linemen including four starters from last year, and Joel Figueroa was granted a sixth season of eligibility. Even with the coaching change, the Canes should be strong up front. Center Tyler Horn is a veteran, Brandon Washington is a difference-maker, and there’s enough competition that Seantrel Henderson spent most of the spring as a backup.

3. Clemson: First-year offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has four returning starters to work with in Landon Walker, Antoine McClain, Dalton Freeman and David Smith. They also have top reserve Mason Cloy, who has 19 career starts and has played in 38 games. There is plenty of depth for a dependable rotation.

4. Virginia Tech: All four returnees started every game last year, and there is enough depth that the Hokies should be able to rotate the most players up front they ever have. It’s a veteran group led by Blake DeChristopher, Andrew Lanier, Jaymes Brooks and Greg Nosal.

5. Florida State: Despite the losses of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon, there’s experience up front. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of tackle Andrew Datko, left guard Bryan Stork or David Spurlock, center Jacob Fahrenkrug, right guard Spurlock or Stork, right tackle Zebrie Sanders. Just how good they’ll be remains to be seen as the majority of them were out with injuries this past spring.

6. NC State: The Pack lost Jake Vermiglio and will be without injured left guard Andrew Wallace for about half of the season, but Zach Allen, Camden Wentz and R.J. Mattes are returning starters. There’s also a lot of talent waiting to emerge with young players like Duran Christophe, Rob Crisp, Tyson Chandler, Torian Box and Andy Jomantas.

7. Virginia: Four players return with a combined 64 career starts in Anthony Mihota, Austin Pasztor, Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses, who started the final seven games of the season as a true freshman. Pasztor is in his fourth season as a starter and has 32 career starts.

8. Boston College: Despite the losses of Anthony Castonzo, Thomas Claiborne and Rich Lapham, the Eagles are almost settled up front, it’s the experience behind the starters that’s reason for concern. The No. 2 offensive line is comprised entirely of redshirt freshmen. Mark Spinney returns at center, the projected starting guards are Nathan Richman and Ian White, who started three games as a freshman, and the tackles are Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel.

9. Maryland: It’s been an injury-prone group the past two seasons and that didn’t change this past spring. Left tackle Justin Gilbert, one of the top linemen on the team, reinjured the same knee he had ACL surgery on and will be out until October. R.J. Dill was also injured this spring, though he played in the spring game, and Justin Lewis was rehabbing from offseason surgery. Pete White also missed practices, so the group needs to solidify the two-deep roster.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets return three starters in guard Omoregie Uzzi, guard Will Jackson and tackle Phil Smith. Sophomore Jay Finch played extensively last season and Ray Beno and Nick McRae were key reserves. Redshirt freshmen Catlin Alford and Morgan Bailey could also work their way into the rotation. Uzzi will be the leader of the line, but they were outplayed by the defense this spring.

11. Wake Forest: Four starters are back, but the Deacs will sorely miss the experience and leadership of former center Russell Nenon. Garrick Williams started the final three games of 2010 -- two at guard and one at center, but he struggled with the snaps towards the end of spring and isn’t where the staff needs him to be yet.

12. Duke: The Blue Devils should take another step forward this season under offensive line coach Matt Luke, and they need to -- Duke’s running game was last in the ACC last year and 104th in the country. Brian Moore replaces a three-year starter at center, but given his experience at right guard the past two seasons, it should be a smooth transition. That will leave a hole, though, at the right guard position, where Laken Tomlinson and John Coleman are the top candidates.

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