WINSTON-SALEM — For all the consternation and alarm over Wake Forest’s inability to run the ball with more success, coach Jim Grobe sees his team’s problem in a different light.
“We’ve got to throw the ball better,” Grobe said at Tuesday’s weekly media conference. “That’s the bottom line.
“If they’re going to take the run away from us, we’ve got to throw and catch better.”
The first two opponents, Presbyterian and Boston College, have based their defensive game plans around thwarting Wake Forest’s rushing attack. And both have been successful to varying degrees – the Blue Hose by limiting the Deacons to 189 yards on 54 carries, and the Eagles by yielding just 55 yards on 39 carries.
But as bad as the Deacons looked running the ball in Friday’s 24-10 loss at BC, Grobe had more trouble accepting the performance of his passing attack. Senior quarterback Tanner Price completed 18 of 30 passes for 191 yards, threw a costly interception and picked up the first downs needed to sustain a touchdown drive on only one possession.
Louisiana-Monroe, Wake Forest’s opponent Saturday at BB&T Field, already has made clear its plans to stack up the rushing attack. And Grobe has seen enough to know that the Warhawks won’t be the last opponent to adopt the strategy.
“(BC) didn’t let us run it, but we had the potential to have a really good night throwing and didn’t do it,” Grobe said. “My concern is, would we like to run the ball better? Yeah. But I think we’re going to play teams all year that just basically say. ‘Hey, we hear you’re running the option. Well we’re just going to stack it up in there and not let you do it.’
“When that happens, we’ve got to be able to throw it. And we weren’t able to do that Friday night.”
Issues with blocking
When defenders aren’t being blocked, the problem stems from one of two sources. Either the schemes are ineffective, or the personnel can’t get the job done.
Grobe said that the loss to BC was cause for serious reflection, and nobody has reflected more since Friday than the Wake Forest coaching staff.
“I thought Friday night certainly we shot ourselves in the foot with some of those pitches that went on the ground,” Grobe said of two fumbles that BC recovered in Wake Forest territory that led to quick touchdowns. “Tanner’s got to pitch the ball better.
“But we didn’t block very well, and I thought Boston College did a really good job of pressuring us, and we didn’t handle that pressure at times. One of my disappointments was we didn’t throw the ball well enough to counter-balance that. I think the other thing is we’ve got to execute better.
“The things that we had not seen as problems were problems Friday night – which kind of catches you off guard as a coach – (such as) Tanner taking really good care of the ball. We had made really pretty good decisions, even if they were decisions that ended up in no gain. That’s OK. We’ll line up again. It’s not a sin to punt the football.
“Those kinds of things, we’d been pretty good at.”
Offensive system won’t change
For all the soul searching Grobe is going through with his team at 1-1, he’s adamant on one point. Wake Forest will continue to run the offense with elements of the option that was installed after last season’s nickel-and-dime passing attack finally broke down under the weight of injured wide receivers and poor protection.
When the Deacons start executing better, Grobe said, the offense will start moving the ball. And for any player who might despair that such a day will never come, Grobe said he has a ready-made solution.
“I think all we’ve got to do is get the team together and sit down and look at the video,” Grobe said. “They look at that, and they say, ‘Wow, if we had done this, or done that.’
“It’s pretty simple. It’s just kind of right in front of everybody. If we block better and we make better decisions, we move the football.”
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