This year's Wake Forest team is a bit different from that squad, which gave SU all it could handle in the tight game. What has changed for Wake Forest since then? What is the same? How in the heck are the Deacons playing so good right now? All of these questions were answered by Wake Forest's SB Nation blog Blogger So Dear earlier this week.
Below are their answers to my questions, while I answered theirs here.
1) A few weeks ago, the Syracuse fan base was chalking up a W next to this game -- it was hard not to after Syracuse earned a road win at N.C. State and it seemed like the Deacons offense was not very good. Now, this game is moving closer to terrifying, as Wake Forest is tossing the ball all over the place, scoring points and nearly pulled off a big win at Miami. What's been the biggest difference from this turn around?
I believe the turnaround can be attributed to our decision to abandon an option attack (which we never should have been running in the first place) and instead choose to utilize a short to intermediate passing attack, which targets our best player in Michael Campanaro. Additionally, our offensive line has gone to some very wide splits, which makes it easier for our offensive line to figure out who to block, makes it difficult for defensive linemen to twist, and takes defensive linemen out of their comfort zone by forcing them to have to think more.
2) The last time Syracuse and Wake Forest met was in the Carrier Dome a few years back, and quarterback Tanner Price was a blooming, yet, struggling sophomore that tossed for 289 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. How has Price progressed throughout the year and is he now playing the best he has ever played?
I do think it's fair to say Tanner Price is now playing the best football of his career. Earlier this season was definitely a struggle for him, but he was asked to run an option attack that really isn't suited for his strengths. He is now able to make quick reads and get the ball out of his hands in a hurry. Price also has the arm strength to hit the deep ball if the play opens up. He's making better decisions when to tuck the ball and run, and he's also very smart about when to just throw the ball away.
3) Sticking with the 2011 game, there was a wide receiver, Chris Given, who tore up the Syracuse secondary with seven catches for 170 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the Deacons' loss. This week, the Orange secondary will try to cover Michael Campanaro. How godo has Campanaro been for you guys this season and is there anyway to stop him?
Michael Campanaro has been exceptional for Wake this season. In my opinion he should be 1st team All-ACC. He has had double digit receptions in four of the seven games he has played in, including each of the past three games. He has 65 receptions on the season and our next leading receiver has 14. His value really cannot be overstated. As a slot receiver it's difficult to completely not allow him to catch the ball especially since we throw a decent amount of screen passes to him. I just believe he's too special of a player to truly stop.
4) If Syracuse is able to stop him, is there any other weapons that can beat the Orange defense?
If Syracuse can contain Michael Campanaro, then I think our next best weapon on offense would be true freshman wide receiver Tyree Harris. Harris left the Miami game with an injury, but should (hopefully) be ready to go for the Syracuse game. He did not play in the first four games of the season, and only had one catch in his first two collegiate games, but during the past over the past two games Harris has combined for 12 receptions and 144 receiving yards.
5) If Wake Forest does lose to Syracuse on Saturday, the Deacons will need to win 2 out of their next 3 games to become bowl eligible. Those three games feature FSU, Duke and a game at Vanderbilt. With that schedule left will it be disappointing if Wake Forest doesn't make a bowl game? If so, what do you think was the biggest cause to Wake Forest's early-season results?
If Wake Forest loses to Syracuse on Saturday, then I do not see this team making a bowl game. Florida State is a guaranteed loss and as it is we are hopeful to split Duke and Vanderbilt. Given the talented group of seniors on this year's team, expectations were relatively high entering the season. I, and a lot of other Wake fans, thought this team could possibly win eight games given our schedule. The Boston College and Louisiana Monroe games really killed us and I do think a lot of it had to do with the option offense that we had no business running in the first place. I can understand losing to Boston College on the road, but the ULM game was simply unacceptable.
6) I've asked this question to all the ACC blogs (so don't feel too special), but tell me a bit about the Wake Forest fan base: First, what do you guys/gals like?; what do you not like?; what do you really, really not like? Also, are you guys a bit like us when it comes to football season -- it is just a stop gap to basketball season?
Wake Forest fans love basketball. It is our flagship program and the past three seasons have definitely been difficult to swallow, but that's a discussion for another day. Wake Forest is a very small fan base, but we are a proud one who will continue to support people from our school. Wake Forest fans passionately follow the Spurs because of Tim Duncan and any team that Chris Paul plays for. Wake also has a rich golf history and Webb Simpson and Bill Haas are definitely proudly followed. Wake Forest fans do not like Carolina, and I imagine Syracuse fans will grow to do the same.
With regards to football, Wake Forest did not exactly have the richest football history before Jim Grobe arrived. Wake fans were definitely just more looking forward to basketball season. Since Wake won the ACC in 2006, expectations ans fan support has certainly changed. Basketball is still the premiere support, but football is becoming more than just a "stop gap" to basketball season.
7) Prediction time. Wake enters a 3-point underdogs is that a fair line? What's the finale score of this one?
I would say it's a fair line if we are considering the entire body of work of both teams this season. That being said, this is not the same Wake Forest team that has played all season, and I believe the Deacs will emerge victorious in this one. I'll say Wake wins 27-17.
Thanks to Robert Reinhard for answering my questions.