Deacons star flanker ready to play

Winston-Salem JournalSeptember 3, 2013 

— The pressing question for Wake Forest is not whether Michael Campanaro will be ready and able to play Friday in the ACC opener at Boston College.

“I’m 100 percent ready to go,’’ Campanaro said Monday before practice.

Even so, coach Jim Grobe is left to wonder how able Campanaro will be.

“It’s like with most kids, if he comes back full speed and plays great, it’ll have a great impact for us,” Grobe said. “That’s the key. You’ve got to come back and play great.”

Campanaro, the Deacons’ All-ACC flanker, missed Thursday’s opener against Presbyterian while nursing a sore hamstring. Grobe said after the game Campanaro could have played, but the coaching staff saw no need to take a chance.

It proved to be a wise decision when the Deacons rolled 31-7.

Campanaro suited up and participated in warm-ups, and came away encouraged.

“I felt really good in warm-ups,” he said. “I got like a workout in during warm-ups. I ran a bunch of routes at full speed. So I felt really good.

“If I had to go, I told the coaches I’d be 100 percent ready to go. But we had the game in hand.

“That was good. I was happy we were able to do that. I think the extra week will just help even more.”

The Deacons sputtered much of the game against the Blue Hose, finishing with 408 yards. Presbyterian crowded the line of scrimmage with as many as nine players, daring Wake Forest to pass.

Quarterback Tanner Price complied in the first half, completing 11 of 15 passes for 201 yards and a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Spencer Bishop. After building a 24-7 lead on Brandon Chubb’s interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter, the Deacons passed only seven more times the rest of the game.

“We just made up our mind we were going to run the football,” Grobe said.

Wake Forest struggled to establish a running game throughout on the way to 189 rushing yards on 54 carries. Grobe said the lead allowed his retooled offensive line to get extra work attempting to open rushing lanes for the backs.

The victory would have been far more convincing without two lost fumbles deep in Presbyterian territory. Price fumbled a snap at the 11 on the last play of the first half and running back Dominique Gibson fumbled at the goal line early in the fourth quarter.

Also, kicker Chad Hedlund missed two field goals, one from 31 yards.

“Offensively we were doing stuff that we’ve done as coaches,” Grobe said. “But the kids haven’t. So that’s going to be an ongoing learning curve for us. But it was good to get out there and find out what our issues are and work on them this week.”

Sophomore Hunter Goodwin made his first start at tackle but was forced from the game with an injured shoulder. Goodwin did not practice Monday and is considered questionable for Boston College.

Junior receiver Matt James, who missed the opener with a separated shoulder, also is considered questionable for the Eagles. He was not dressed in full pads Monday.

The return of Campanaro should provide a lift. He caught 79 passes last season, despite missing two games with a broken hand. He has also battled hamstring injuries during his career, which is one big reason Grobe and his staff decided to play it safe against Presbyterian.

“Hamstrings are funny,” Grobe said. “Some people bounce back quicker. But he seems to be fine. He felt like he could have played against Presbyterian, but we didn’t want to take the chance. I think he’s going to be OK.”

Campanaro said he doesn’t expect to be limited against Boston College.

“All the snaps they need me to play, I’ll be playing,” he said.

The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Wake Forest coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/wfu/

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