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WFU Deacons lace it up for first spring scrimmage

Posted Saturday, March 25, 2006

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Winston-Salem, NC - The Wake Forest football team held its first spring intrasquad scrimmage on campus under overcast skies on Friday afternoon. A sizable amount of onlookers along the practice facility’s brick wall braved the chilly temperatures to get their first glimpse of the 2006 Demon Deacons.

“I was pleased with their spirit. We’ve got a bunch of kids that like to play,” sixth year head coach Jim Grobe said. “One thing we’re lacking is consistency. But we’ve got so many guys getting reps right now, you don’t expect to see a lot of consistency this early in the spring. We’re giving a lot of kids a chance to play and compete.”

In addition to the 11-on-11 controlled contact scrimmage, the team worked on punts, kickoffs and field goals. Casey Hill, Willie Idlette, Aaron Mason and Alphonso Smith each rotated as punt returners. Kevin Harris, Kevin Marion and Smith also saw action on kickoff returns.
Placekicker Sam Swank was good on six of his seven field goal attempts.

The individual highlights including outstanding plays on both sides of the ball. Offensively, junior quarterback Benjamin Mauk escaped a heavy pass rush on one play to find sophomore fullback Richard Belton up the right sideline for a first down reception. Moments later, Mauk hit Idlette for about a 40-yard bomb to set up the offense inside the 10 yardline. But the drive stalled in the redzone on third down. Sophomore wide receiver Chip Brinkman hauled in a pass on a shallow crossing route and appeared to be headed for the endzone. Sophomore safety Chip Vaughn closed quickly and stopped Brinkman short of the goal line.

On a later drive, Belton picked his way through traffic into the endzone for a short touchdown run. Senior tight end Dan Callahan made perhaps the best catch of the day, a one-handed diving grab from redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hodges.

Defensively, senior safety Josh Gattis had probably the biggest hit of the afternoon. A short pass to De’Angelo Bryant in the flat was high, leaving him exposed. Gattis decleated “The Bus” leading to a loud ovation from Gattis’ defensive teammates. On a later drive, a big hit on redshirt freshman running back L.J. Flintall jarred the ball free. It took several moments for the officials to get to the bottom of the pile, but when they did, junior linebacker Jon Abbate had the ball tucked away.

The scrimmage ended on a high note for the defense. Sophomore defensive end Anthony Davis came up with sacks on back-to-back plays, the first one coming on a play action, designed rollout where Davis did not bite on the play fake. On the final play of the scrimmage, redshirt freshman John Russell had a sack.

A handful of players did not participate in the scrimmage due to injury including Louis Frazier (knee), Jonathan Jones (hand), Nate Morton (shoulder), Matt Robinson (knee), Zach Stukes (shoulder) and Jeremy Thompson (knee). All are out for the spring.

The Deacons return 48 letterwinners, including 19 starters, from last year’s 4-7 team. Wake Forest brings back ten starters on defense, eight on offense and one specialist.

Spring practice continues with seven more sessions prior to the Spring Scrimmage which will be held Saturday, April 8 at 1:00 p.m. on campus.

For each practice’s start times, call the Wake Forest Football office at (336) 758-5633.

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WFU Deacons lace it up for first spring scrimmage
WFU head football coach Jim Grobe.
photo by Gene Galin
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