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Demon Deacons prepare for Pirates

Posted Friday, September 10, 2004

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Football Game Notes -- Wake Forest at East Carolina

This Week's Game
The Wake Forest road show continues on Saturday in Greenville, N.C., against the East Carolina Pirates. The Deacons return to Greenville for the first time since a 21-19 victory in 2001, the first game of the Jim Grobe era.

This week, the Deacons are looking to rebound from their 37-30 double-overtime loss in the season-opener at 15th-ranked Clemson.

East Carolina is also looking to get on track after losing its season opener to 10th-ranked West Virginia, 56-23.

Saturday's game will mark the fourth straight year the two teams have met on the gridiron and the seventh meeting overall. The Deacons have won the last three games, all under Grobe, and lead the series 4-2. In last year's meeting in Winston-Salem, the Deacons won 34-16 at Groves Stadium.

After Saturday's contest in Greenville, Wake Forest will play just one road game until mid-November.

Double Overtime Is Uncharted Waters
The Clemson game was Wake Forest's third-ever overtime game, but its first double-overtime contest. It also tied for the ACC's longest game, equaling a double-overtime affair in 2000 between NC State and Arkansas State -- a 38-31 Wolfpack win.

The Deacons are now 0-3 in overtime games including at Northern Illinois in the 2002 opener, a 42-41 single overtime loss, and a 30-27 single overtime loss to Appalachian State.

Barclay Picks Up Where He Left Off
With 179 rushing yards at Clemson, Chris Barclay has picked up right where he left off in 2003. Barclay, a second-team All-ACC pick as a sophomore, has now rushed for at least 100 yards in six of his last eight games. Since the Georgia Tech game last October, Barclay has averaged more than 140 yards against the Yellow Jackets, Duke, Florida State, Clemson (twice), North Carolina, Connecticut and Maryland.

Last week, Barclay passed the 2,000 career rushing mark. He is one of 13 Division I players -- the only player in the Atlantic Coast Conference -- to have 2,000 career yards and 20 touchdowns on their collegiate resume. Barclay is one of just three juniors to have accomplished the feat along with DonTrelle Moore (New Mexico) and Brad Smith (Missouri).

If Barclay stays healthy, he should eventually move into third place on the Wake Forest rushing chart this season.

Franchise Update
Jason Anderson made seven catches for 139 yards at Clemson, his fifth career 100-yard receiving day. Anderson got the majority of those yards on an 85-yard touchdown strike from Ben Mauk, tying the Wake Forest record for the longest completion in history.

Anderson had several other big plays, though. Five of his seven receptions went for first downs. Another catch, a spectacular one-handed grab on a third down, was called back because of holding.

At 18.6 yards per catch, Anderson is tied with Georgia's Fred Gibson for the national lead among active players. The Charlotte senior is already Wake Forest's career leader in that category.

Against Clemson, Anderson moved into eighth place on the Wake Forest career receiving yards chart. He also made his 100th career reception.

Leftovers From Clemson

Five Deacons made their first career starts at Clemson including Pierre Easley (MLB), Patrick Ghee (SS), Brodie Overstreet (RG), Matt Brim (RT) and Zac Selmon (TE).
Cornelius Birgs' touchdown plunge was his 10th career touchdown and the second straight year Birgs found the endzone against Clemson.
Wake Forest intercepted Charlie Whitehurst twice -- one by Josh Gattis, his first career interception and the other by Warren Braxton. It was the third time the Deacons had intercepted Charlie Whitehurst in two years.
Jason Anderson's 100-plus yard game was the fifth of his career which ties for the sixth most in Wake Forest history.
Saturday's captains were Eric King, Blake Lingruen and Jason Anderson.
From The Training Room
The injury report for the East Carolina game:
Out: LB Brandon Drumgoole (broken fibula; season), LB James Adams (knee sprain).
Doubtful: None.
Questionable: WR Cassiel Smith (ankle), OG Arby Jones (shoulder).
Probable: WR Nate Morton (thigh contusion).

A Win This Week Would...

even Wake Forest's season record at 1-1.
increase Wake Forest's winning streak against East Carolina to four games in as many years.
make Wake Forest 9-9 on the road under head coach Jim Grobe.
improve Grobe's four-year record at Wake Forest to 19-19 and 52-52-1 in his career.
improve Grobe's record vs. ECU coach John Thompson to 2-0.
improve Grobe's record vs. in-state rivals to 10-3 since his arrival in 2001.
give Wake Forest an all-time record of 371-561-33.
A Loss This Week Would...

drop Wake Forest's season record to 0-2 for the first time under Grobe.
snap Wake Forest's winning streak against East Carolina at three games.
make Wake Forest 8-10 on the road under head coach Jim Grobe.
drop Grobe's four-year record at Wake Forest to 18-20 and 51-53-1 in his career.
even Grobe's record against ECU coach John Thompson at 1-1.
drop Grobe's record vs. in-state rivals to 9-4 since his arrival in 2001.
give Wake Forest an all-time record of 370-562-33.
Milestone Watch
Chris Barclay

With 53 yards in the first half, Barclay passed Larry Russell (1,923 yards from 1969-71) on the all-time rushing chart to move into ninth place.
With 179 yards at Clemson, Barclay now has 2,074 yards for his career. He needs 130 yards to pass Anthony Williams (1988-91) to move into eighth place.
Barclay broke off a 50-yard score for his 22nd career touchdown at Clemson. That ties Tarence Williams for the fourth-most touchdown runs in Wake Forest history.
With a touchdown at Clemson, Barclay upped his career scoring total to 132 points to tie Red O'Quinn for 12th place all-time. He is eight points away from tying Brian Piccolo for 10th-place all-time.
Jason Anderson

Anderson moved into 8th place on the Wake Forest career receiving charts on Saturday. With 139 yards, he passed Thabiti Davis (1,865 yards from 1994-97). Anderson now has 1,897 yards for his career.
Anderson's seven catches at Clemson moved him into sole possession of 16th place on the Wake Forest reception list. He has 102 catches for his career, needing nine more grabs to move into the top-10.
Matt Wisnosky

With a three-for-three performance on field goals, Wisnosky improved his career field goal percentage to 69.6 (23-for-33). Wisnosky is just percentage points away from catching Wilson Hoyle (69.8) as the most accurate field goal kicker in Wake forest history.
By scoring 12 points at Clemson, Wisnosky has 128 in his career. Last week, Wisnosky passed Topper Clemons, Desmond Clark, John Leach and Morgan Kane to move into 14th place.
Ben Mauk: Instant Offense
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ben Mauk set national high school passing records as a prep in Kenton, Ohio. He threw for 76 touchdowns and more than 6,500 yards as a senior. He needed one play to etch his name in the Wake Forest record book.

On his first play, Mauk escaped the pass rush and hit a leaping Jason Anderson who turned on the jets for an 85-yard touchdown. It was Wake's longest completion since 1982 and tied for the longest pass in Deacon history.

Mauk led the Deacons to touchdowns on his first two drives, back-to-back possessions in the second quarter. His third quarter drive stalled after just three plays.

Mauk finished 3-for-4 passing for 101 yards and a touchdown. All three completions were to Anderson.

The Longest Yard(s)
The longest pass completion, the longest run from scrimmage and the longest kickoff return in week one of the new-look ACC were provided by Wake Forest.

The superlative plays in the league's first weekend were:

the 85-yard touchdown strike from Ben Mauk to Jason Anderson.
Chris Barclay's 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
Kevin Marion's 43-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
Abbate Count
Redshirt freshman linebacker Jonathan Abbate led the defense with nine tackles, including six solo stops. It was the most tackles by a Deacon rookie in a single game since 2001 when Eric King made 11 stops vs. Georgia Tech.

Coming Down To The Wire
Nineteen of the 37 games in the Jim Grobe era -- more than half -- at Wake Forest have been decided by a touchdown or less, including the season opener every year.

Turnover Battle
After finishing second in the ACC in turnover margin last fall, the Deacons are off to a good start in that category in 2004.

Wake Forest won the turnover battle in Clemson, getting three takeaways (two interceptions and one fumble) while committing only one turnover (a fumble).
The plus-two margin ranks second in the ACC.
Wake Forest ranked fifth the nation in turnover margin in 2002 and 20th in 2003.
Grobe Has Deacons On The Rise
With 18 wins in his first three years as head coach, Jim Grobe has lifted the Demon Deacons to a level of success seldom seen at Wake Forest.

Grobe's 18 wins through his first three seasons are the most by a Wake Forest coach since 1923-25 when Hank Garrity won 19.
The 18 wins are the most in any three-year period since 1986-88.
Punt Team Troubles

When Clemson's Chanci Stuckey returned a first quarter punt for a touchdown, it was the first time Wake Forest had allowed a punt return for a score since Oct. 25, 2003 when Florida State's Leon Washington took one back 65 yards in Tallahassee.
When Clemson blocked Ryan Plackemeier's punt out of the back of the endzone in the second quarter, it was the first time the Deacons had a punt blocked since the 1999 season against Georgia Tech. Including Plackemeier's first punt on Saturday, it was a string of 230 straight punts without a block.
The Clemson safety was the first by an opponent since the 2002 finale at Maryland -- a sack of Randolph in the endzone.
Rookie Report
Although the Wake Forest coaching staff would prefer to redshirt each of its freshmen this fall, the staff philosophy is that the best players will play.

As many as five true freshmen could see the field this fall. At Clemson, defensive end Jeremy Thompson and walk-on long snapper Nick Jarvis both played.

Defensive back Alphonso Smith, linebacker Eric Berry and Aaron Curry were on the travel roster.

Trading Places
Although the Wake Forest coaching staff remains intact from 2003, there have been some adjustments in position assignments.

Ray McCartney, formerly the defensive line coach, is now concentrating solely on defensive tackles.

Keith Henry, who coached cornerbacks in 2003, will oversee Wake Forest's defensive ends.

Defensive coordinator Dean Hood will coach the entire secondary in 2004 after working specifically with the safeties last year.

King Selected to Preseason Nagurski List
During the summer, senior cornerback Eric King was selected to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy preseason watch list, which is a compilation of the best defensive players in college football regardless of position, chosen by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

King, a 5-foot-10, 185 pound cornerback from Woodstock, Md., was a first-team All-ACC pick last fall and was chosen as Wake Forest's MVP by his teammates. He started all 11 games and led the ACC in passes defended with 18, including 15 breakups and three interceptions. As a sophomore, King was honorable mention All-ACC and started each contest.

King is one of 60 defensive players on the list.

The winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, will be named on Dec. 6 at a banquet in Charlotte, N.C. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops will be the keynote speaker.

Lingruen Considered For Outland Trophy
Senior center Blake Lingruen has been selected to the Outland Trophy preseason watch list by the FWAA.

The Outland Trophy annually is presented to the top interior lineman in college football on either side of the ball - tackles, centers, guards - in a vote of the FWAA All-America Team Committee in late November.

Lingruen, a 6-foot-4, 298 pound center from Liberty Center, Ohio, started 11 games last year for the Demon Deacons despite suffering a knee sprain in the season opener.

He was chosen by The Sporting News as a second-team junior class All-American. Lingruen graded out at 88 percent for the season and averaged 9.3 knockdowns per game. He was the ACC Lineman of the Week after helping pave the way for five rushing touchdowns against Duke.

Lingruen is one of 57 interior lineman on the preseason watch list.

Presented since 1946, the Outland Trophy is the third oldest award in college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.

It is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn at the turn of the century.

Odds & Ends

Wake Forest has led the ACC in rushing every year under Jim Grobe.
During the summer, Jason Anderson attended a wide receiver camp in Los Angeles where he caught 100 passes a day and worked out with other collegiate receievers.
Ryan Plackemeier worked hard in the weight room this offseason and while at home in his native California, he practiced punting into the wind on the beaches to increase leg strength.
Brad White will finish his undergraduate degree in analytical finance this December and simultaneously get his graduate degree in accountancy. Last spring, White earned a 4.0 grade point average.
The Deacons will be the last Division I team to get on an airplane for a road trip this fall. Wake Forest won't have to fly to any road games until Nov. 20 when the Deacons play Miami's Orange Bowl. Of the 117 Division I football teams, only Western Michigan will not fly to any road games.
A Programming Note
Thanks partly to ACC expansion, Wake Forest's schedule will no doubt be a difficult one. Seven teams on Wake Forest's 2004 slate particpated in bowl games. Five of those squads won their postseason contests.

The schedule falls awkwardly on the calendar. After two road games to start the year, the Deacons will leave Winston-Salem just once between Sept. 18 and Nov. 20.

During those nine weeks, Wake Forest will play six home games and one road game -- at NC State Oct. 2 -- with two bye weeks sandwiched in between.

Defensive Realignment
After using a 3-3-5 alignment as its base defense for three seasons, Wake Forest will move into a more traditional 4-3 this fall.

When the Deacons originally adopted the "nickel" package, the decision was made largely because of quality depth in the defensive backfield and a lack of it along the line.

In their fourth year, the coaching staff feels they have enough quality linemen to fill those positions up front.

Grobe has emphasized, however, that the Deacons will not abandon the 3-3-5, particularly against pass-heavy offenses.

While the Deacons will often have one fewer defensive back on the field than in years past, it's possible that it could still be the same players. Caron Bracy, who started as the "bandit" defensive back, has moved to outside linebacker.

On This Date
1976 -- Under fifth-year coach Chuck Mills, the Deacons knocked off NC State 20-18 at Groves Stadium.

New Jerseys
Eighteen returning players have changed jersey numbers since the spring. Among the most notable are Cornelius Birgs (was 2, now 24), Caron Bracy (was 8, now 2), Ben Mauk (was 12, now 8), D'Angelo Bryant (was 39, now 18), Louis Frazier (was 71, now 78) and Matt Wisnosky (was 93, now 37).

Preseason Camp Recap
The Deacons completed their three-week preseason camp with a final intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, August 28 at Groves Stadium. Wake Forest spent much of camp implementing its new base defense, the 4-3, after primarily using the 3-3-5 formation for much of the past three seasons, and getting acquainted with new faces on the offensive line.

While a number of Deacons missed up to several days of preseason camp, no major injuries were incurred during the dog days of August. The only major injury heading into Saturday's game is a lingering Achilles injury to defensive end John Finklea which was suffered during offseason conditioning drills.

There were only three position changes to report. Senior Jerome Nichols moved from defensive end to defensive tackle, junior Chris Owen moved from linebacker to fullback and freshman Eric Gaskins switched from defensive tackle to offensive tackle.

Offensively, the biggest preseason question marks were on the offensive line. Early injuries to projected starting guards Greg Adkins and Joe Salsich opened the door for younger players.

On the defensive side of the ball, Nichols' shift to defensive tackle has freed up a starting job on the right side. Third-year sophomore Bryan Andrews has stepped into those shoes.

Deacons Make The Grade
During the summer, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) honered Wake Forest as having one of the top five graduation rates in all of college football.

As a team, Wake Forest posted a graduation rate of 94 percent. The national average was 59 percent.

Boston College, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State were also in the top five.

Other ACC schools which earned distinction for having a rate of 70 percent or better included Duke, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Wake Forest To Face ACC Newcomers
Wake Forest is one of five of the ACC's current nine schools (along with Georgia Tech, UNC, NC State and Virginia) who will take on both new league members Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004. Virginia Tech pays a visit to Winston-Salem Oct. 9, while WFU travels to Miami to face the Hurricanes Nov. 20. It will be the first meeting with the Hokies in 20 years and the first matchup with Miami in 33 seasons.

Wake Forest is also the only league school that will play future ACC team Boston College this season. The Eagles make their first ever appearance at Groves Stadium Sept. 25 after the Deacs won last season, 32-28, in Chestnut Hill.

Coming In Droves to Groves
Wake Forest set a new school season record for home attendance in 2003. In seven games, an average of 28,273 fans visited Groves Stadium (a total of 197,911 spectators). The school's season record was broken in 2002 as an average of 26,537 spectators attended six home dates at Groves. That average broke a 22-year-old record of 26,485 set in 1980.

Who's Back In 2004?
The Deacons return six offensive starters, eight defensive starters and two specialists for a total 16 from last year's 5-7 team. That list includes junior Chris Barclay, the ACC's second leading rusher in 2003, senior All-ACC cornerback Eric King, junior All-ACC punter Ryan Plackemeier, plus a host of other all-star candidates including junior quarterback Cory Randolph, senior center Blake Lingruen and senior wide receiver Jason Anderson.

With only 10 seniors, Wake Forest is still considered to be a relatively young team. That doesn't mean the Deacons are lacking experience, however. The Deacons have seven players who are beginning their third year as starters and 12 players have started at least 10 games in their careers.

On offense, the Deacons return the starters at all the skills positions, including Randolph (QB), Barclay (RB), Anderson and Willie Idlette (WR).

Defensively, four of the team's top six tacklers are back including Caron Bracy, who led the team with 90 stops as a junior last year; King, who had a team-high three interceptions and led the ACC with 15 pass breakups.

In all, the Deacons return 93 percent of their all-purpose yards from last year's team which led the ACC in rushing for a third straight year.

Looking Back To Last Year
The Wake Forest football team fell one game short of becoming bowl-eligible for the third straight season, ending the 2003 season with a 5-7 overall record, 3-5 in ACC play.

After getting off to a 2-0 start with wins over Boston College and NC State, followed by a national ranking in early September, the Deacs dropped a close one to Purdue at home, 16-10. WFU went to 3-1 with a home victory over East Carolina, but then dropped two conference contests -- to Virginia and Georgia Tech -- to fall to 3-3.

A 42-13 rout of Duke gave the Deacons some momentum heading to Florida State, but WFU had a tough time with the sixth-ranked Seminoles. The Deacs fell 48-24 despite putting up more offense and points than any other FSU opponent at that point of the season.

Wake Forest returned to Groves Stadium to dominate Clemson in an impressive 45-17 victory, halting a four-game Tiger win streak in the series. Needing just one more victory to become bowl eligible, the Deacons were shocked the next week, falling 42-34 to a North Carolina team in Chapel Hill that was previously winless in ACC play.

A chance to redeem themselves at home against UConn the following week failed to pan out as well. The high-flying Huskies stomped the Deacs, 51-17.

Wake Forest's last chance at a 6-6 season and a bowl-eligible record came at home against Maryland. The Deacs couldn't hang onto a 21-6 lead, as Maryland battled back for a 41-28 victory to end Wake Forest's season.

Flashback to 2001
Jim Grobe's Debut • Sept. 1, 2001

Wake Forest 21, East Carolina 19
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (36,794)
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Tarence Williams ran for 162 yards and a touchdown as Wake Forest beat East Carolina 21-19 on Saturday night in their first game under Jim Grobe.

Wake Forest, which won just two games last season, went with a no-huddle offense and caught East Carolina off-guard early. The Demon Deacons had 203 total yards in the first half and crossed the East Carolina 10 in their first four drives for a 12-0 lead.

East Carolina, which won the Bowl last season, struggled early in the opener for both teams, managing just 31 yards on 18 plays before going on a quick 56-yard scoring drive late in the first half.

Williams fumbled at the 1 to end Wake Forest's first drive, but dived in from a yard out to put the Demon Deacons up 12-0 with 13:07 left in the first half. He had 104 yards in the first half.

David Garrard, MVP of the Bowl, was 18-of-35 for 231 yards and had three turnovers - two of which led to 10 Wake Forest points.

Garrard had a pass intercepted by Ed Kargbo-Okorogie at East Carolina's 45, leading to Williams' touchdown, then fumbled at the Pirates' 24 on the next drive. Tyler Ashe followed with a 31-yard field goal that put Wake Forest up 15-0 with 8:58 left in the half.

Garrard finally got East Carolina's offense going late in the first half, taking the Pirates on a 56-yard scoring drive in 1:36. Leonard Henry's 8-yard run with 17 seconds left capped the drive.

East Carolina had four first downs in its final drive - one more than the rest of the half - with Garrard hitting 2-of-4 passes for 30 yards.

East Carolina pulled to 15-13 with 3:55 left in the third quarter on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Garrard to Torey Morris, but Wake Forest responded with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Young to Jax Landfried.

Garrard got East Carolina to 21-19 with 3:48 left, but was stopped on a run up the middle on the 2-point try.

Wake Forest got a safety in the first quarter after a pass was blocked and Garrard swatted it out of the end zone.

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Demon Deacons prepare for Pirates
photo by Gene Galin
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