This conversation piece will be shorter because I was delayed in getting Martin the questions. BloggerSoDear was the first ACC blog I signed up for SBNation. Martin was covering Wake for his school paper and doing some work for the Sporting News before he joined up. A big thanks for Martin for swapping Q's & A's. Here are our answers to his questions.
Last year, your defense was incredible and produced a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round draft choice. This year, they haven't totally collapsed, but seem to have taken the expected step back after the loss of those NFL defenders and some other key contributors. But your defense isn't terrible by any means, so who has stepped and made this unit respectable?
That was the big preseason question posed to the team constantly: "will the young defense be able to step up and will the offense be able to carry the load." There have been the growing pains we all thought would happen and the frustrating bone-headed plays that you see from freshmen all the time (dropped INTs, penalties, missed tackles, blown assignments), but all-in-all, I've been pleasantly surprised.
I feel like there is some real quality to the defense that we will see in the next couple years. In the secondary, we are seeing a budding star in Kenny Okoro (3 INT, 1 FF, 29 tackles, 7 passes broken up). Gelo Orange, aside from having one of the best names in the league, has also grown incredibly since the start of the season. He will be a beast. Joey Ehrmann and Dominique Tate should also be very good as they mature.
Over the summer, I noted that Wake's offense had really been declining over the last several years, particularly because they were unable to run the ball. This year the offense looks a lot better, and I'm curious as to why? Has it just been Skinner being a senior, or has there been a greater commitment to the run game. Who should we really be worried about?
First off, there is no commitment to the running game. Well, that's not exactly true, there is some commitment, but that's not a good thing. It is not exactly working. The RBs have done a relatively good job of picking their spots to run the football, but the YPC is just bad. (Against GT, we averaged 1). This seems to stem from the same offensive line problems that followed the team all year.
The biggest difference is not just Riley being Riley, but it actually is from the incredible athleticism of the WRs. Sure, DJ Boldin and Kenny Moore were very good, but these receivers just might be the best bunch Wake Forest has ever seen. Freshmen Devon Brown and Chris Givens seem to make consistent plays every game and Marshall Williams is quickly becoming one of the better players in the ACC.
3. How about a prediction?
This is not exactly going to be an SEC-style defensive showdown. I do think Manuel will have a good game (quarterbacks making their first career strart have a field day with us), but ultimately Wake will put together enough drives to pull it off. It will be close and might come down to a key play/turnover in the last 5 minutes.
So I'll go with: