Deacons throw true freshmen into the ring
In the days leading up to Wake Forest’s season-opening game against Presbyterian, coach Jim Grobe talked about a change in his philosophy about playing true freshmen.
In his first 12 seasons leading the Demon Deacons, Grobe shied away from putting new freshmen on field, never playing more than three in a season, preferring to redshirt them a year and hoping to get the most out of them as fifth-year seniors.
Grobe started having a change of heart after he realized last season that if he had played some true freshmen from the start, they could have helped the Deacons more than some of the upperclassmen he was forced to play because of injuries.
Against the Blue Hose, Grobe played nine true freshmen. As expected, Cory Helms started at center, becoming the first Deacon to start in his first college game since 1987.
Other true freshmen who saw action included flanker John Armstrong, offensive lineman Josh T. Harris, defensive backs Deonte Davis, Brad Watson and Jalen Latter, defensive end James Looney, linebacker Marquel Lee, and reserve running back Charles Argenzio.
Armstrong wound up leading the Deacons in rushing with 38 yards and had 44 yards on kick returns. Davis had one tackle.
“I thought we would play 8-10,” Grobe said. “I talked to the coaches about it after practice. I really wasn’t paying attention to who they were putting in. I just told them not to play anybody who they thought would just waste a year of eligibility.
”But with Cory starting at guard and John getting time at flanker and Josh T. Harris playing on the line like they did, as a coach it gets your attention. We’re just not throwing them out there. They can play.”
For all the preseason talk about returning to an option offense, the Demon Deacons still struggled in the running game until the outcome was decided.
With the offensive line still having trouble opening holes, the Deacs had just 64 yards rushing at the half. They wound up with 189 for the game.
“What I think we were facing was a team committed to stopping the run,” Grobe said. “They weren’t doing much up the field stuff, so they basically dared us to throw.”
Grobe wasn’t a fan of the nine-minute delay after the first quarter for a stadium electrical failure.
“Our offense was trying to figure them out,” Grobe said. “We needed to keep going and seeing coverages and that kind of stuff.”