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October 1, 2011
10 keys: Wake Forest at Boston College
Wake Forest at Boston College
Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Stadium: Alumni Stadium
Kickoff: 12:30 PM ET
TV/Internet: ACC Network Affiliates, ESPN3.com and ESPN Gameplan
Wake Forest: 2-1, 1-0 ACC (Beat Gardner-Webb 48-5)
Boston College: 1-3, 0-1 ACC (Beat UMass 45-17)
Last Meeting: The Eagles defeated the Demon Deacons 23-13 last season. BC leads the all-time series 10-6-2, and is riding a four-game win streak against the Deacs.
Quotes of the week
"I don't know if anybody is better coached fundamentally than Boston College's kids." -Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
"It helped the team a lot too just get a little break, so everybody get back focused mentally, and come back stronger with a mindset to really want to get after it, especially this week against Boston College." - Wake Forest placekicker Jimmy Newman
"They're always a big team. They're always very, very physical, very hard-nosed football team. We've had a lot of close games with these guys. I think one of the biggest things they do is they play so hard from kickoff to final whistle. They know how to put it on you from the time you get going to the time the game is over. They're a very sound football team. They work really hard, and you can tell that their coaches have a good game-plan, and that they're very disciplined, so I think their biggest asset is they do use their strengths when they can to their advantage, but also they know how to play hard from the get-go." - Wake Forest left tackle Doug Weaver
10 keys to the game
1) Stick to their gun
Opposing defenses have managed to stall Wake Forest's rushing attack (110 yards per game, ranking 96th nationally), but quarterback Tanner Price reminds the Demon Deacon faithful of Riley Skinner.
The Texas native has completed 61-98 passes for 867 yards and six touchdowns, throwing only one interception. Price is complemented by a trio of receivers in Chris Givens, Danny Dembry and Michael Campanaro, rivaling any corps in the country.
The three have combined for 48 receptions for 768 yards and six touchdowns.
Boston College's pass defense has been shaky, allowing an average of 240.8 yards per game.
Look for offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke to have Price attack early.
2) Slowing Kuechly
This may be an impossible task, but the Demon Deacons need to find a way to get BC's All-America linebacker Luke Kuechly blocked.
The junior leads the nation in tackles with 69.
"He's grown into a big body that's got defensive back kind of speed," Grobe said. "He's really physical down inside, and a good contact player, likes to run into people, but every time you see a play on a sideline he's either making it or he's right there."
3) Bring the lunch pail
The Eagles are still very vulnerable, and in grave need of a win. The Deacs better come ready to meet BC's intensity with a higher dose of its own if it hopes to escape Chestnut Hill with a victory.
"You have to go up there, and you have to have a mental toughness about you," Weaver said. "They may need a win this season, but a lot of our team still thinks about how did you feel last season after going through that stretch of rough games, knowing that you're coming out this year and you're having a good season you don't want to go back to the way it was."
4) Four full quarters from the defense
Wake's defense stymied Syracuse for three quarters, stopped N.C. State in the final minutes and held a weak Gardner-Webb team in check, but have yet to perform well an entire game.
This is not a request for perfection, because that is impossible, especially with this unit. However, today's game is an excellent opportunity for the defense to finally assert itself, and control the ballgame.
The Eagles rank 68th nationally in passing yards per game (219.5), 98th in rushing yards (108.8) and 99th points (21).
Holding them to this average should not be asking too much, since Wake only allows an average of 84 yards on the ground, 203.3 through the air and 22.7 points per game. Not to be cliché, but numbers and what is said on paper is worthless, especially when on the road in conference play.
The Deacs have no gimmies, and should know that by now.
5) Valuing the football
In three games Wake Forest has turned the ball over just twice, but has only have two takeaways.
"We've taken care of the ball on offense, which we're doing a great job of right now, but we're not forcing many turnovers defensively, and that's always big," Grobe said.
The Deacs need to remain disciplined on offense, but defensively it is time to be opportunistic.
Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig has struggled with accuracy in the past. In less than two seasons as the Eagles starting quarterback he has a touchdown to interception ratio of 10 to 12.
Wake needs to be ready to pounce on errant throws.
6) Holes for Harris
Was Gardner-Webb that bad or are the Demon Deacons beginning to turn the corner with their running game. After gaining a season high of 149 yards rushing hope remains, but Josh Harris has yet to clear the 100-yard barrier in a game this year. That is disheartening, especially with the size and experience the Deacs have up front.
Do not think it is going to get any easier against the Eagles linebacking corps led by Kuechly.
"I think the biggest thing we have to prepare for is making sure we take care of our business," Weaver said. "We go out there, and we have to finish our blocks. We have to run the ball better. We have to try to make bigger holes."
7) Keep it simple
Frank Spaziani is known for his defensive prowess, and should have a myriad of looks, schemes and blitzes set to torment Price and the Deacs.
"Defensively they zone blitz you a lot," Grobe said. "They like to bring five people. They are really physical guys up front. Their linebackers will hit you, and can run."
Price has already been sacked eight times, so expect Spaziani to take the leash off his defense, and let the Eagles fly free.
Like Weaver said it is about taking care of their business. The Deacs just need to do what they do best, which is trust in their coaches' game-plan, and execute it.
8) Ready for the run
The natural inclination for Boston College is usually to pound the football up the gut, and with All-ACC running back Montel Harris re-working his way into the rotation that gives the Eagles another solid runner to throw at an undersized Wake Forest defensive front.
Andre Williams has carried the load (67 touches for 324 yards and three touchdowns), while Harris has recovered from an injury. The 222-pound Williams along with the always physical BC o-line could wear the smallish Deacs down.
It is imperative for Wake to keep the Eagles from getting into the groove early with their running game, and that starts with Nikita Whitlock continuing to blow up the middle.
If Rettig is forced to throw the ball Wake wins.
9) Not overcompensating
Yes it is important to key on Kuechly, but sometimes the best way to slow down a great player is to lockdown his supporting cast.
"The other kid, the other inside backer with him, Pierre-Louis, he's got like a three name deal," Grobe said. "Kevin Pierre-Louis, he's a really, really good player. I like there Sam backer. They've got three linebackers that can really play."
Pierre-Louis is second on the team tackles (38) and Steele Divitto is third (27) flank Kuechly, making up one the best groups of linebackers in the ACC.
Blocking them along with Kuechly is a tall task, but if the Deacs can slow those two down the All-American will have to work that much harder.
10) Being physical
Physicality and toughness have long been staples of Boston College's success on the gridiron, which will surely continue into today's game.
Why can Wake not be physical and tough? No argument or reason for why they cannot be. The offensive line is bigger than it has ever been in Grobe's tenure, even bigger than BC's.
This team is a veteran bunch, and has been through many struggles. A few bumps and bruises should not make it cower in fear. The Demon Deacons are here to take what belongs to them, and that is a victory over the Eagles.