ACC: Steven Chase

ACC lunchtime links

October, 24, 2013
Chat with AA today at 4 p.m ET. Hearing humble pie will be served.

Weak and strong: Wake Forest

June, 17, 2013
There’s a weak link on every team, but there is also a strength that could help mask it or overcome it entirely. This series will take a look at the strongest and weakest position groups for each ACC team heading into the fall. We’ll go in reverse alphabetical order, starting today with Wake Forest:

Strongest position: Linebackers

Led by Justin Jackson, the linebackers are a good mix of experience and young talent. Jackson and Mike Olson are two returning starters, but the staff has also been impressed by Teddy Matthews, a redshirt freshman who is a potential starter, and Kevis Jones, another redshirt freshman recruited out of Florida.

Jackson last year led the team with 81 tackles, and 8.5 tackles for loss. He also had four sacks, two pass breakups, four quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick. In March, Wake Forest announced the hire of Warren Belin, a 1990 Wake Forest graduate, to coach outside linebackers. He was most recently with the Carolina Panthers. With nine starters returning on defense, the entire group should show improvement, but the linebackers were the highlight this past spring.

Weakest position: Offensive line

This is likely the key to Wake’s entire season, as those within they program have said that if they can keep the offensive line healthy and develop some depth, the team should run the ball much more effectively and in different ways than it did last season.

That wasn’t possible this spring, though, as the Deacs barely had a two-deep to practice with.

Guard Antonio Ford broke his leg in three places last fall at Maryland, and he was out this spring, along with tackle Steven Chase, who was out with a torn ACL. The projected lineup includes senior Whit Barnes at center, senior Frank Souza at right guard, and Ford, a junior, at left guard. Wake will likely depend on a freshman or sophomore at right tackle, but the staff was pleased with its recruiting efforts up front.

“We feel pretty good about our starting five, but we said that going into last year,” offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke said. “We said as long as we can stay healthy, we like our starting five. You feel good going in, but depth is always a problem and the depth is still all freshmen and sophomores. We’re not afraid to pull the shirt on a couple of guys there, either. We’ve recruited four that we like. We feel we need to have eight we trust: two centers, three guards, three tackles. We’d like to have 10, but we’ll settle for eight if we can find them."

More in this series here.
If Wake Forest’s offensive line can stay healthy and build some depth between now and the opening kickoff, there’s no reason the Deacs can’t surprise a few teams in the Atlantic Division this year.

In theory, Wake Forest could have a veteran look up front this fall, but if there’s one area that still remains a concern for offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke heading into summer camp, it’s the offensive line.

“It was kind of a long spring on the o-line for those guys, because we only really had eight guys all spring,” Lobotzke said. “We didn’t even have two-deep, so we really had to structure practice around saving those guys, and then we had another guy get dinged up, so we only had seven by the end.”

Guard Antonio Ford broke his leg in three places last fall at Maryland, and he was still recovering this spring. So was tackle Steven Chase, who missed spring practices with a torn ACL. When everyone is healthy, the lineup looks good, with senior Whit Barnes at center, senior Frank Souza at right guard, and Ford, a junior, at left guard. Lobotzke said a freshman or sophomore will likely have to fill in at right tackle.

“We feel pretty good about our starting five, but we said that going into last year,” Lobotzke said. “We said as long as we can stay healthy, we like our starting five. You feel good going in, but depth is always a problem and the depth is still all freshmen and sophomores. We’re not afraid to pull the shirt on a couple of guys there, either. We’ve recruited four that we like. We feel we need to have eight we trust: two centers, three guards, three tackles. We’d like to have 10, but we’ll settle for eight if we can find them.”
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.

If you’re just joining us, this series is categorizing the unranked teams in the ACC as either contenders or pretenders heading into the 2013 season. We’re leaving out Florida State and Clemson because they are the only two teams from the ACC expected to be ranked this preseason. Those rankings automatically qualify them as contenders. The Deacs? That’s debatable.


What do you expect out of Wake Forest in 2013?


Discuss (Total votes: 2,820)

Let’s have at it:

Why they’re a contender: A great linebacker corps. This will be the strength of the team, as it blends experience with young talent. Redshirt juniors Justin Jackson and Mike Olson are the veterans of the group, but the staff is also very encouraged by redshirt freshman Teddy Matthews, who is a potential starter, and Kevis Jones. Overall, this group will lead a noticeably improved defense, which will give the Deacs a fighting chance against the ACC’s best.

Why they’re a pretender: The offensive line has been ravaged by injuries and it has yet to prove it has the depth to handle it again. Starting tackles Steven Chase and Colin Summers are expected to miss spring drills, along with starting guard Antonio Ford. Even with veteran quarterback Tanner Price returning, along with star receiver Michael Campanaro, the Deacs won’t go very far without a dependable line blocking for them.

Final verdict: Contender. Consider the Deacs a dark horse in the Atlantic Division race. Last year wasn’t the norm for the program, as it had both injuries AND suspensions to key players. The staff has recruited well the past two seasons and it has one of the best coaching staffs in the ACC. The schedule is favorable, and it has open dates before Duke and Maryland. Overall, the team has more depth. If the Deacs can stay healthy, they have a chance.

More in this series
Wake Forest offensive tackle Colin Summers' career is in jeopardy because of a continuing problem with blood clots, coach Jim Grobe told on Wednesday.

Summers, expected to start at right tackle, was rushed to the hospital over Christmas break with blood clots in his lungs. Grobe described what happened as a "life-threatening situation," saying Summers has been through a roller coaster of emotions while doctors tried to pinpoint what was causing the clots.

"I wouldn’t say he’s been ruled completely out, but I think there’s a good chance he may not play football again," Grobe said in a phone interview. "He’s been up and down. At first the doctors said, 'You can’t play. Then they said, 'We’re not sure if the blood clots were caused by an injury.' They’ve been doing tests on him, and the last thing I heard was they believe there’s a blood disorder causing those blood clots."

Summers started 11 games last season, but he did suffer a concussion at the end of the year, and also played through a lower leg injury. It was that leg injury that doctors thought was the culprit behind the clots, but recent tests revealed that not to be the case. Summers is being treated with blood thinners. If he must remain on them, he would no longer be allowed to play contact sports and his career would be over.

"It's just really sad because he’s a guy we felt like was an All-ACC caliber player," Grobe said. "But our No. 1 thought is on his health. As much as we need him as a football player, it's much more important that we’ve got a healthy kid."

Wake Forest, hit by injuries last season, still has a list of walking wounded this spring. Among those who will be limited or out when spring practice opens March 19 are projected starters Steven Chase and Antonio Ford on the offensive line, cornerback Merrill Noel, linebacker Zach Allen, running back Josh Harris, receiver Matt James and receiver Michael Campanaro. But Grobe did say he is hopeful Campanaro will get in a few practices before the Deacs wrap up in April.

Injury bug not done with Wake Forest

February, 25, 2013
The spring has not brought much relief to Wake Forest in the injury department.

Several projected starters are expected to miss all or parts of spring practice, which begins March 19. Offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke said in telephone interview that he didn't expect to see receiver Michael Campanaro, starting tackles Steven Chase, Colin Summers or starting guard Antonio Ford participating in drills.

Lobotzke said, "'Camp' is going to have some ankle surgery on a bone chip floating around so we’re going to miss him."

Chase (knee), Summers (concussion) and Ford (leg) are still rehabbing injuries sustained last season, when the Deacs saw an unprecedented number of guys go down on their offensive line. In all, Wake Forest lost nine offensive linemen throughout the course of 2012, including all five players it had moved over from the defensive line.

That is why one of the biggest priorities heading into spring was finding stability in the trenches. But Wake is going to have to wait until the fall at the earliest to begin working on its biggest offensive question mark.

"Even though we have high hopes for next season, spring ball’s going to be tough," Lobotzke said. "Right now, we have a guaranteed seven offensive linemen for spring ball. We’re hoping for eight, but hopefully by next season we’ll have a full complement of guys out there healthy with Antonio, Colin and Steven Chase.

"I wish it was better than that, I wish it was cleaner than that. We were thinking if those five guys can go through spring together and Tanner [Price] could build confidence with them -- but it’s not going to happen. We’re going to have to have a great August I think. Because right now three of the guys we’re counting on to be in our top five will not be out there this spring."

Lobotzke added the team is still unsure whether Summers will be able to resume his career because of lingering affects from a concussion.

While Wake could take a woe-is-me attitude, that is certainly not the case. The flip side is the ability to try to build some depth for this season, to avoid the nightmare that was 2012.

"It opens the door for young guys," Lobotzke said. "Dylan Intemann played as a freshman last year because of injury. Maybe this is the spring Dylan asserts himself, and says, ‘I’m going to take Colin’s job from him. I’m going to outplay him and I’m going to be the guy at right tackle.’ Maybe we can build O-line depth because of these spring injuries and maybe we can get some young guys to step up. That would be a great side benefit with Steve, Antonio and Colin not being able to take spring reps."

Lobotzke also said a few other players are injured heading into spring and their status is up in the air: reserve offensive lineman Will Smith (knee), tight end Neil Basford (Achilles') and receiver Matt James (foot).

"A lot of the names we’re counting on won’t be out there for spring," Lobotzke said. "The biggest problem is putting 11 bodies out there, but we’ve got a lot of young guys that will get a shot."

Midseason report: Wake Forest

October, 16, 2012

Record: 3-3, 1-3

Injuries have taken a major toll on the Deacs, who are coming off their bye with losses in three of their past four games. Nothing has seemed to go right since their come-from-behind win over North Carolina. The following week, Wake lost 54-0 to the Seminoles. Its only win in this recent span was in a shootout over Army. The Deacs also had their 12-game winning streak over Duke snapped, 34-27, and followed that loss with another one to Maryland, a game that the Deacs were forced to play without starting receiver Michael Campanaro (hand) and six suspended players (four of them starters).

In the week since that game, coach Jim Grobe has announced the indefinite suspension of two others, safety Duran Lowe and offensive tackle Devin Bolling, both backups. On-the-field play has definitely not made headlines this season because of all these outside forces. In addition to Campanaro, Wake Forest has seen key players like Nikita Whitlock, offensive tackle Steven Chase and cornerback Merrill "Bud" Noel miss time because of injuries. The offensive line has been hit particularly hard because of injuries -- Chase is playing with a torn ACL and Antonio Ford is out for the season.

The Deacs rank in the bottom half of the country in total offense (102) and total defense (83) and have simply been too inconsistent to win games. There are talented players on this roster, and Wake Forest should get healthier as the year goes on. Campanaro is expected back in the next few weeks. There are winnable games remaining, but there is no question Grobe is going to need to find a way to get the ship headed in the right direction.

Offensive MVP: WR Michael Campanaro. When Campanaro got hurt against Duke, he was one of the best receivers in the ACC, leading the league with 38 catches while ranking second in the country in receptions. He had nine or more catches in four of five full games he played in this season, leading the team with 429 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensive MVP: OLB Justin Jackson. Jackson has been the most consistent player on defense, leading the team with 47 tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks. He also has forced a fumble and blocked an extra-point attempt.
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."

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 12, 2012
Runnin' down a dream ...

Opening camp: Wake Forest

August, 7, 2012
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.

Deacs' O-line makes offseason strides

July, 25, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Heading into the spring, Wake Forest’s offensive line was arguably the Deacs’ biggest question mark, but the situation has improved dramatically since then.

Steven Chase, who was held out of spring practices for undisclosed reasons, has since returned, and the move of Frank Souza from nose guard to the offensive line has been particularly beneficial. A group that once had to replace four starters now has players coach Jim Grobe can depend upon.

“I think we’ve got five we can run with,” he said. “We’ve got to keep them healthy.”

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. Chase started three games at left tackle last year, but tore his MCL against Maryland on Nov. 19 and missed the final two games of the season. Souza struggled to find playing time last year behind talented veteran nose guard Nikita Whitlock.

“I think he was a little discouraged,” Grobe said of Souza. “He was fine with being there, but he knew we weren’t going to take Nikita off the field very much. We felt like in high school, when we recruited him, he could play offense or defense. When we asked him to move to the offensive line, not many people would be as enthusiastic as he was. Just in a very short amount of time it was obvious he has the talent to be a very good one for us. We hit a home run with Frank.”

Wake's O-line a question going into spring

February, 29, 2012
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
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.