To preview this weekend's Wake Forest game, we spent five good minutes with the Wake Forest SBNation blog Blogger So Dear. Martin and Jake are a great resource for knowing more about this weekend's opponent.
In return, we answered some questions for Blogger So Dear. You can find their questions and our responses here.
BCI: Wake Forest’s offense struggled mightily last season with the Deacons ranking in the 100s for total offense. Largely those struggles can be attributed to the play of a very young offensive line. This season all your starting offensive linemen return which should help improve the Deacon's offense. What other changes has Wake Forest made to improve the offense this season?
BSD: I think the biggest thing aside from the linemen returning, being healthy and playing at their natural positions is in the offensive gameplan itself. Coach Lobo is notorious for out-thinking himself and never running the same set twice in two straight possessions, but this year he has seemed to settle down, which is allowing the offensive personnel to get more comfortable during the series. In addition, the use of both Chris Givens and Devon Brown has definitely bolstered offensive production. They are two of the fastest players on the team and are being utilized in both the receiving and rushing attacks.
Finally, there's something to be said about continuity. Last year, the offense had no faith that they could pick up short 3rd downs on the ground, and this year seems to be different. The commitment to the running game, at least in stages, is allowing Skinner to pick his spots to throw it downfield.
BCI: After Clemson failed to score an offensive touchdown against Boston College (not to mention BC has given up only one offensive touchdown in 3 games), are you worried that the Deacon offense will have similar difficulties finding pay dirt on offense?
BSD: I am worried because BC's defense has played so well thus far, but something tells me that Wake will still find a way to score. The team, which had so many problems in the first game and a half, has looked far different on offense since and it seems like Riley snapped out of whatever funk he was in during the Baylor game. All the credit goes to BC's defense, but I just have a hunch that each team might get two scores. It wouldn't be a BC-Wake game without some fireworks.
BCI: How about the defense? Wake has lost a ton of talent – particularly in the linebacking corps and the secondary – and has had to retool both these units. Have you been encouraged by the play of the defense through 3 games? Who are the playmakers who we’ll hear their name called often on Saturday?
BSD: If you had asked me that question right after the Baylor game, I would have said pack it in, this defense has no chance this year. But, they have really manned up the last couple weeks. It seems like the defense has a lot more pride and is growing into its own. The defensive line sets the tone since that is where the most returning players come from (John Russell and Boo Robinson in particular), but the secondary gets a big boost from Ghee. The linebackers are still a bit soft, but the young DBs have definitely shown a lot of promise. This is a young group, so there will be setbacks, but all-in-all, I'm pleasantly surprised. It's safe to say we got spoiled a bit from AC, Phonz, Vaughn, Arnoux, Matt Robinson and Kevin Patterson.
BCI: How have Wake Forest’s early-season tests against Baylor and Stanford helped the Deacons prepare for the Eagles? What are the similarities between the Bears and the Cardinal offense and the Eagles’? Any glaring differences between these offenses that concern you?
BSD: The biggest difference is quarterback play. The Bears and the Cardinal know their QB, they trust their QB and he is their guy. That doesn't seem to be the case with BC this year. That aside, BC always has an incredible line and that was something we saw with Stanford too, so stopping the run will be a concern. Overall, I think that just seeing Stanford's power game and Baylor's gimmicks gave the defense a nice taste of both and I'm just hoping the Deacs not only have the Eagles scouted well, but are ready to execute.
BCI: Now, on to the extracurriculars. Year in and year out, how big is the BC game to Wake Forest fans? Is this just another Atlantic Division game, or is there something more between the Eagles and Deacons?
BSD: You know, I loved this question, so I asked it to another BC blog, and they said that the game really isn't as big as I thought it was. To me, I think this game is circled on our schedule to be honest with you. I've seen some truly great BC-Wake games since expansion in not just football, but basketball as well, and I could see this developing into a nice natural rivalry. Between the Wake win at Groves during the Deacs' ACC Championship run or the game the next year when Phonz picked off Ryan on the first play, but BC came back and held onto the lead in Chestnut Hill, how could this not be a game that fans get up for?
BCI: Similarly, how have you felt about ACC expansion and the additions of Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.) and Boston College? Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in the middle?
BSD: I know a lot of people don't agree with me, but I like expansion. It hurts the ACC Tournament in basketball a bit--but that's just the ACC purest in me talking. Aside from that, I think that Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College have really added a lot to the conference not just in football, but in the other Olympic sports, as well as basketball. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I love it, but I am definitely happier about it than I was when it initially happened. And I think that the teams fit the conference well.
BCI: Since Boston College has renewed a series with Wake Forest, going back to 2003 these two teams have played each other extremely close. Since 2003, the Eagles and Deacons are knotted at 3 games apiece. In fact, the Eagles hold a 4 point edge in those six games (153-149). Are you expecting anything different from this year’s game, or will this be your typical BC-Wake game that goes down to the wire?
BSD: I'm expecting the same. I really am. This game is always a great game and one of my favorite to watch every year regardless of the outcome. I don't see this one being decided by more than a field goal.
BCI: Last one, make a prediction for this game. Who wins? What is the final score?
BSD: I wouldn't run a Wake Forest site if I didn't have a little bias, so I'll peg it at Wake 17, BC 14. But honestly, that score could be flipped around and it wouldn't surprise me one bit. This game is about limiting mistakes on both sides of the ball, and I also think that special teams might end up being a deciding factor in the eventual outcome.
BCI: Thanks for joining us.
For more information on the Demon Deacons, be sure to check out Blogger So Dear.