ACC: Jonathan Himebauch

Wake Forest offensive tackle Steven Chase is sitting out this spring with a torn ACL. He can’t do anything in the weight room. He can’t do anything on the field. But he can eat pizza -- which means he can still compete.

Chase fired down four big slices -- the equivalent to half a large pie (according to sources) -- to win the Deacs’ pizza eating contest on Wednesday, but that was only part of the afternoon team competitions. There was a belly flop contest between the linemen (congrats, veteran nose tackle Nikita Whitlock, for the most fabulous flop). There was a 3-point shooting contest. There was a sled push, dodgeball, tug-of-war, punting and a “sweatshirt swim” in which players swam the length of the pool in a hoodie and then had to take it off and get it onto a teammate quickly to win the race.

“The guys had a blast,” said offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke, who helped organize the events with senior receiver Michael Campanaro, defensive back A.J. Marshall and co-defensive coordinator Brian Knorr.

Chase and his teammates were all #WakeForestSuperStars on Wednesday afternoon in what was one of the most light-hearted, entertaining sessions of the spring in the ACC. The Deacs took a break from the grind of the gridiron and the seniors drafted eight teams, with a full draft board in one of the team meeting rooms. (“Some people were saying people were drafting like Al Davis,” said offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch, “they were just going for the flash.”) They then competed in four team events and four individual events, and the winning team (senior tight end Spencer Bishop’s team) got T-shirts that read: Wake Forest Superstars Champions.

“It’s a nice break, especially for us as coaches, too,” said Himebauch. “We’re around our guys all the time, just grinding and going hard with game plans, scheming and practice and workouts that to get the guys in an event like that where it’s fun and lighthearted, but also, you really find out who’s a competitor, and who by any means is going to try to find a way to win.

“We had guys playing dodgeball and they were on the team but acted like they were out, but had a ball behind their back,” he said. “Campanaro came flying out of nowhere and tagged a couple of guys. It’s pretty fun.”

There were also some sleepers in the competition. Ryan Bauder -- a walk-on long snapper and the last man drafted -- won the 3-point shooting contest.

“That was awesome,” Lobotzke said.

“He was the darkhorse surprise,” Himebauch said with a laugh. “He definitely wasn’t a first-round draft pick, but he was a guy who held his own and was a nice surprise.”

The event started around 2:30 p.m. and ended about four hours later with a barbeque for the entire team. Make no mistake, the Deacs are working hard this spring to improve upon last year’s 5-7 finish. Wednesday’s competitions, though, were part of the plan, as a little time for team building now can go a long way later.

“This breaks things up for the fall,” Himebauch said. “Spring can be a bit of a grind, but I know the guys like being out there. It’s changed their focus and preparation in the offseason, that it’s not just same old grind in the weight room. We’re doing some things to make it fun, but you also want to see guys compete and you want to see them get after each other.”

Steven Chase included.

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
12:00
PM ET
HD has Florida State-Virginia Tech covered tonight in Blacksburg. Do the Hokies have a shot?
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.

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.

Wake Forest announces two new assistants

February, 10, 2012
2/10/12
4:35
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Wake Forest has announced the addition of Jonathan Himebauch and Derrick Jackson to the coaching staff.

Himebauch, most recently the offensive coordinator for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, will join the Wake Forest staff as offensive line coach. Jackson joins the Deacons after serving as the defensive line coach at Rice during the 2011 season and will coach Wake Forest’s outside linebackers.

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