Game Week: WFU vs Maryland

By The Sports Xchange
October 25, 2010 

Wake Forest will travel to College Park this week to face Maryland in a critical game for the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest won’t be shy about giving the bulk of the carries to redshirt freshman running back Josh Harris after he collected 241 yards on the ground against Virginia Tech.

Harris made the most of his opportunities and that’s what it takes to stay in the lineup.

“We’ve kind of tried to play all three running backs and nobody was kind of standing out,” coach Jim Grobe said, also referring to Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass. “Josh Harris has improved mentally and he got to where he had a pretty good understanding of what we wanted to do offensively.”

With the offense in the doldrums, Harris was pegged for the starting role in part because he had been given fewer chances in earlier games and it figured that he should receive a shot as the go-to guy. He showed some breakaway ability as well.

“It was one of those situations where he got the opportunity (and) he really took advantage of it,” Grobe said.

That said, following the team’s only open week on the schedule, the Demon Deacons (2-5, 1-3) are expected to show some new wrinkles when they visit Maryland (5-2, 2-1) for an ACC Atlantic Division matchup Oct. 30.

Despite the discrepancies in records, the game at Maryland might shape up as one of the better chances for Wake Forest to break into the win column the rest of the season.

–The Demon Deacons took a close look at their team during the open week. Part of it was trying to figure out who can deal with certain situations. “As much as anything, we’ve got to continue to find out what our kids can handle,” coach Jim Grobe said.

SERIES HISTORY: Maryland leads Wake Forest 41-16-1 (last meeting, 2009, 42-42 Wake Forest).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Demon Deacons haven’t figured out whether they’re a running team or a passing team — and often they’ve been neither. They went mostly to the rushing attack in their most-recent game, but the passing element remains there as long as QB Tanner Price is taking the snaps. They’ve scaled back the rushing duties for their quarterbacks, who’ve generally been unable to stay clear of injuries.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Wake Forest hasn’t come up with answers defensively, and most disturbing has been run-oriented opponents making good use of picking up yards through the air. The Demon Deacons have seemed too slow at the linebacker position at times and they haven’t been strong enough along the defensive front to cause disruptions. Wake Forest looked OK in the second half against Virginia Tech, but that was because the Demon Deacons were so far behind on the scoreboard that Virginia Tech scaled back its offense.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “That’s just not us. That’s unheard of for us. We’ve always had a more veteran football team.” — Coach Jim Grobe, who used a lineup in the Oct. 16 loss at Virginia Tech that included five freshmen as starters and other first-year players in key roles.

THIS WEEK’S GAME: Wake Forest at Maryland, Oct. 30 — Wake Forest has lost five games in a row since opening the season with two victories. Maryland has the opposite record, putting the Terrapins at 5-2 and within one victory of securing bowl eligibility.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Wake Forest needs to do something to build confidence because the Demon Deacons are in a slide at this time of the season for the second year in a row. Maryland has had some offensive shortcomings, but most teams have found cures against Wake Forest’s defense. The Demon Deacons are bound to find out if they can count on RB Josh Harris for ongoing success after his big game against Virginia Tech.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Tanner Price — He’s coming off a rough outing at Virginia Tech. But with a week off for the true freshman, this might be the first chance for him to go into a game without feeling hurried under extreme pressure.

S Alex Frye — He’s due to make something happened in the secondary. After a strong start to the season, his impact has waned even though he continues to be one of the team’s top performers on defense.