TN: First of all, how would you describe the state of the Wake Forest football program under Jim Grobe? Are you comfortable with its direction as this season draws to a close?
BSD: Let's see, the weakness of this team is its offense and Wake's best weapon (Michael Campanaro) is out probably for the season. In addition, the four-year starter at quarterback (Tanner Price) isn't playing like a four-year starter. Compound that with no discernible running game, and that is the state of the Demon Deacons.
Things aren't going well in a season where everyone believed this team could do big things. Eight wins wasn't out of the question. So nobody is comfortable with the direction of the program right now.
TN: The Demon Deacons sit at 4-5 after consecutive tough conference losses to Miami and Syracuse. What were your expectations for this team at the beginning of the season, and can the Deacs meet them over the final three games?
BSD: At ACC Media Day I bet Chip Patterson of CBSSports.com that they'd win 8 games. I really thought they'd get to Clemson 4-0 and be in good shape for the home stretch. Now, they have three games to win two just to get eligible for a bowl. They aren't going to win Saturday, and I have a hard time thinking this team can beat a hot Duke squad and then go to Nashville to beat Vandy.
TN: Wake lost an excellent player and one of its all-time greats for at least the regular season last week in Michael Campanaro. What does his loss mean to the team, and can you eulogize his career for those of us who might not know his importance to Wake's program?
BSD: As good a player as Campanaro is, he's an even better person. He's smart, funny and just has a great attitude. He will leave Wake Forest as its career leader in receptions, and is one of the best to play in Winston-Salem, period. Words can't do justice to what he's accomplished here. It's heartbreaking to know he's probably done.
TN: The Demon Deacons abandoned an attempt to move to a more run-centric offense earlier in the season in favor of playing very wide splits on the offensive line and spreading the ball around with Tanner Price. What was behind this move, how successful has it been, and how do you think it will fare against Florida State?
BSD: Wake Forest scrapped the ill-fated option in favor of a scheme that Price was more comfortable in. He's simply more comfortable in the pocket, and the coaches adjusted (successfully) accordingly. The main question around town is, why waste 5 games with an offense that never looked comfortable for anybody?
The thing about the new look is that they have to get it blocked up. Wake did not last week at the Carrier Dome, and Tanner was on the run...a lot. I expect the 'Noles to bring pressure- lots of it. Price is going to have to make some very quick decisions and get the ball out of his hand. This is a big game for the offensive line.
TN: I've long suspected Nikita Whitlock to be a sorcerer. It's just not right that a 5'10 250-pound nose tackle in a 3-4 can cause BCS programs as many nightmares as he has, regardless of whether he plays in a one or two-gap scheme. How have he and the Deacons' defensive front-seven played this season, and will he finally graduate after 2013?
BSD: We went into the season thinking that this defense could be special. If they had any help from the offense, I think that could have been true. Whitlock is playing himself into an NFL contract right now. We joke about it all the time at Grobe's press conference. People keep telling Whitlock, "You can't" and he says, "I can."
Overall, I think the front seven has played well, especially given the concerns about depth at linebacker. Hunter Williams, the walk-on, has played brilliantly alongside Justin Jackson, Mike Olson and Brandon Chubb. This is a very good defense.
TN: How will Wake Forest try to contain the FSU attack and Jameis Winston?
Actually, they'll try to bring pressure and make sure the DBs keep receivers in front of them and eliminate any big plays yadda yadda yadda.
TN: How have Wake's special teams played this season? Any chance the Deacons could exploit FSU's subpar punting game for field position flips or a score?
BSD: Punter Alex Kinal is having a career year (unfortunately). He's shown a lot better consistency than last year. Kicker Chad Hedlund still struggles with his consistency, but is starting to get his coaches to trust him more. He's got a good leg.
FSU has a punter? Will he travel?
TN: How do you see this game unfolding? What do you need to see from 35-point underdog Wake Forest to feel good before playing Duke and Vandy?
BSD: This is going to be Clemson, Part II. I just don't want to see any injuries heading into a bye week.
Thanks to J.P. for joining us during a sad week in Winston-Salem. Be sure to head to Blogger So Dear for all things Wake! Our answers to their questions are here.