Back in July, I had a way-too-early conversation with Riley over at Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear about tonight's game between the Syracuse Orange and Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Now it's time for a just-in-time conversation between us. I answered some questions for him and the Wake faithful. Here are his answers to my questions. Study up, Cuse fans!
What's changed for Wake Forest between now and the last time we spoke?
Well we had a few more injuries that's for sure. From the looks of things, both teams have had the injury bug jump up and bite them a bit in the preseason. There are question marks surrounding a few of the guys on our team right now. Michael Campanaro, Chris Givens, and Kyle Wilber have all been battling some hammie issues, which as we know tend to linger. Those are a bit problematic for us right now, and they are all listed as 2nd string on the depth chart (released August 26th for us). These things are a very fluid issue right now, and for all I know they could be out there tomorrow night. I believe that Camp and Givens have been practicing, but Wilber is a bit of a bigger problem.
Aside from that, we named our starting punter in Alex Wulfeck. That was a bit of a surprise for a lot of Wake fans because of Alex Kinal coming in this year. (the Aussie Rules Football player). I believe that Kinal will be our starter at the end of the year, but because of his lack of exposure to American football, and lack of consistency in camp, Wulfeck got the job.
There are quite a few pundits out there calling for Wake Forest to win this game, how are you feeling?
Wake definitely has a chance to win the game. I'd give us about a 30-35% chance to win. This is definitely a big game for us, and if we are able to beat Syracuse and NC State to start the season, it could be huge for us. That being said, I do not have the same confidence as some people out there do. I think the 7 point line in Syracuse's favor is a very reasonable line, and expect that to be the margin of victory when it is all said and done.
There are just a huge amount of question marks surrounding both teams right now in my opinion. Going off of records alone from last year, it doesn't really look like an even matchup for Wake Forest, but everything that I have seen/read suggests that we will be very much improved this year. It all depends on how well our O-Line does, as well as what our corners can do to stop Ryan Nassib and Van Chew.
One Syracuse player recently said Wake Forest is likely the biggest offensive line we'll face all season, tell us about the hog mollies.
The line is not only very big, but also experience laden with 4 seniors and 1 junior. I wish I could say that this experience means we will be a formidable force up front, but I can't say that until I see how we come out there tomorrow. It seemed like the defense got the better of the offense in the scrimmages/practices that I went to, especially up front. If the big guys can't give Tanner time to throw, and Josh holes to run through, it's going to be a long night going up against your front 7.
That being said, there is a ton of talent and size up front. Doug Weaver, Dennis Godfrey, and especially Joe Looney will get some looks by NFL teams because of their size. If they can come together and all be on the same page, our running game could be really, really good this year.
Last time you said the Orange should keep an eye out for RB Josh Harris, LB Kyle Wilber and NT Nikita Whitlock. Has anyone else emerged as a major threat?
Having seen several practices, QB Tanner Price appears to be in great control of the offense. He has excellent velocity on his throws, and seems very comfortable in the pocket. It goes back to what I said in the last answer really...whether or not the O-Line can give him time to throw and get the ball to open receivers. I expect Price to have an excellent year and surprise a lot of people around the conference this year. He has gotten virtually no press by anybody that covers the ACC, and I think that chip on his shoulder will propel him to work hard, just like Riley Skinner did for 4 years here.
Wake Forest will win this game because...
Price and Harris have a chance to get out of the backfield before y'all are in it to make big plays. Our corners don't get eaten alive by Nassib on the defensive side of things. A big play on defense or special teams would go a long way as well. Going back over the past 5 years, we have an excellent record in games that we score a TD on special teams and/or defense.
Syracuse will win this game because...
Ryan Nassib will tear our secondary up. It's the recipe for disaster for Wake Forest fans. We have an inexperienced secondary (particularly at CB), and on the other side of the ball there is a senior QB with a ton of experienced wideouts. If Bud Noel and whoever starts opposite of him (could be walk-on Jason Green if AJ Marshall isn't fit to go), get down on their luck early then it could be a LONG day for our defense.
What's your official prediction for the game and official prediction for Wake's season?
Syracuse 24 Wake 17........Wake goes 4-8.
Thanks Riley. Make sure you keep an eye on Blogger So Dear for any last-minute updates on the game and to get the Wake Forest reaction tomorrow.