Wake Looks To Jump-Start Sputtering Offense

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – This can’t be how Wake Forest hoped its new option offense would look.

And with the schedule getting much tougher after Louisiana-Monroe comes to town this week, the Demon Deacons don’t have a lot of time to figure things out.

They managed just 55 yards rushing on 39 attempts in a loss last week at Boston College. They failed to score on one critical possession before halftime after taking over inside the BC 5-yard line.

And they fumbled two option pitches that led to a pair of touchdowns for the Eagles.

“It’s a little different than the offense we ran last year, obviously, and I don’t know if guys are struggling with it or if we just can’t get it done, but I feel like it’s just something new for guys to handle,” right guard Frank Souza said Tuesday. “Even (fourth-year quarterback Tanner Price) is not used to running this offense, and it’s just something we’ve got to adapt to, and if we’re really going to hit it hard with this offense, we’ve got to get a little better at it.”

The seemingly backwards solution, coach Jim Grobe says, is to get better at throwing the ball. Price was 18 of 30 for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception against BC.

“Bottom line is, if you’re going to take the run away from us, then we’ve got to be able to throw and catch better,” Grobe said. “It’s one of those deals where they’ve basically said, ‘You’re not running the football.’ Then, we’ve got to throw it. … As much as anything, we just didn’t throw the ball effectively enough to have a chance to win.”

The Demon Deacons certainly didn’t run it well enough, either.

It was the third time in a five-game span dating to last season in which Wake Forest (1-1) – which ranks 88th nationally with an average of 129 yards rushing – was held to 55 or fewer yards on the ground.

Against BC, the Demon Deacons ran 11 plays inside the red zone and they netted a total of 13 yards – with only two of them going for more than 2 yards.

Both fumbles – one by Price, one by tailback Josh Harris – led to touchdowns by BC in a game the Eagles won 24-10.

“It doesn’t take Kojak to figure out that that 14 points was big,” Grobe said.

Part of the problem is inexperience. The Demon Deacons have seven freshmen or redshirt freshmen on their offensive two-deep – including four on the offensive line.

And in a new system, everybody’s a rookie – even the senior quarterback.

“It’s new, but you know, I think it can be valuable,” Price said. “There is some discomfort there, but it’s a good learning process and learning tool. You have to be able to adapt and be effective at it, regardless of whether or not you’ve done it before.”

Grobe introduced the option principles to his playbook after a rough 2012 season in which a series of injuries to his receivers – none more important than No. 1 target Michael Campanaro – left the offense stuck in neutral.

He’s optimistic that the Demon Deacons will get things figured out soon. He hopes a breakthrough can come against the Warhawks (1-1), who give up nearly 200 yards rushing per game.

“We’ve got a lot of things we can improve upon and if we do, we can become a pretty good football team,” Grobe said. “And I think it takes a game like we played Friday night to kind of find out where your weaknesses are and where your strengths are and what you need to work on.”