ACC: Johnny Armstrong

Deacs need receivers to emerge soon

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
11:00
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Here’s the good news for Wake Forest: they have plenty of wide receivers. They’ve over-recruited the position.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Williams
Fred Kfoury III/Icon SMIWith 15 catches, freshman wideout Jonathan Williams is the Demon Deacons' second-leading receiver.
The bad news? Not only do they not have their No. 1 wide receiver anymore, but they’re still looking for their No. 2.

Oh, and they’re playing Florida State this weekend.

Wake Forest has been devastated by Saturday’s news that Michael Campanaro, the team’s top offensive player, is likely out for the rest of the season with a broken collarbone. Following a 13-0 road loss to Syracuse, news of Campanaro’s injury trickled through the visitors’ locker room. He was injured in the first quarter and taken to the hospital during the game. Wake Forest has struggled to run the ball this season and has developed its identity in recent weeks as a pass-first team. With a young offensive line, the coaching staff is looking for receivers to help take some pressure off of quarterback Tanner Price. The Deacs are trying to salvage the season and win two of their last three games to become bowl eligible.

“We’ve just got a whole group of guys right now who have not been either very dependable from a physical standpoint, or very dependable from a knowledge standpoint,” coach Jim Grobe said. “We had a lot of missed assignments Saturday. And then consistently catching the football and blocking the way we needed to. Like my old buddy Skip Prosser used to say, it’s a conundrum. We’ve got a bunch of talented guys and none of them have really played very good so far.”

Injuries haven’t helped the situation.

Orville Reynolds has been out with an ankle sprain. John Armstrong has been out with a concussion. Tyree Harris, who looked on the verge of having a breakout game against Miami, tried to catch a low pass against the Canes, fell on the football, and bruised his collarbone. Grobe said Harris has had some trouble breathing.

“The first half we thought, ‘Hey, here we go. We’ve got a guy who’s balancing out Campanaro,'" Grobe said. “And then he missed the second half against Miami. Hopefully we can get Tyree back.”

Time is running out. Wake Forest has three games remaining: Saturday against Florida State, Nov. 23 against Duke, and at Vanderbilt to end the regular season. The Deacs are No. 110 in the country in scoring offense, averaging just 19.4 points. They’re No. 116 in rushing offense, at just 91.2 yards per game.

They’re banking on the passing game without Campanaro to keep their bowl hopes alive.

Campanaro had a team-high 67 catches this year. Nobody else on the roster has caught more than 15 passes. Redshirt freshman Jonathan Williams is second on the team with 212 yards on 15 catches, no touchdowns. Sherman Ragland III has 15 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. He led the team against Syracuse with 10 catches for 91 yards, but overall, Grobe wasn’t satisfied with what he saw from the group.

“Saturday it was disappointing to me because we had really inconsistent play out of all of those wide receivers,” Grobe said. “We didn’t have anybody step up and do it.”

They don’t have much of a choice now.

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