Wake motivated to play Notre Dame
BY GREER SMITH
ENTERPRISE SPORTS WRITER
WINSTON-SALEM – From a motivational standpoint following Saturday’s 37-6 debacle at N.C. State, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe believes facing third-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame on the road is just what the doctor ordered.
“It’s a good game for us to play right now coming off a tough loss at State,” Grobe said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “Typically, it would be a challenge to get our guys back up. But, given that it’s Notre Dame is going to get our guys back on their feet pretty quick.”
Judging from what Grobe described as a spirited effort in practice on Monday, he believes the Demon Deacons have put the State loss behind them.
“Emotionally, I believe we have a lot left in the tank,” Grobe said. “Now, we have to go play what is arguably the best team in the country. But, it’s got our juices flowing again.”
The challenge for the Demon Deacons is how to score against a team that is No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (11.1 points per game), sixth in rushing defense (95.9 yards per game) and eighth in total defense (292.2 yard per game) after mustering just six points, 16 yards rushing and 185 yards total against the Wolfpack.
It is a defense led by linebacker Manti Te’o, who has been mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate and leads all Football Subdivision linebackers with six interceptions.
“They can rush three and drop eight and still get pressure on the quarterback,” Grobe said “That’s a defensive coach’s dream when you don’t have to get pressure. They’ll pose a great challenge for us offensively.”
That is not good news for a team that never crossed into State territory when it took possession on its side of the field.
“It seemed when the offensive line blocked, the receivers didn’t get open,” Wake offensive right tackle Colin Summers said. “And when the receivers were open, the offensive line didn’t block and give Tanner (Price) time to throw. It was a mess.”
The team also must cope with the mystique surrounding one of the most storied college football programs in the country, ranging from Knute Rockne and win one for the Gipper to Touchdown Jesus and Rudy. Wake will become the 70th team to play in Notre Dame Stadium since it opened in 1930.
“You just have to cope with it,” free safety A.J. Marhsall said. “Don’t try to not think about it because the whole history is going to be there,
Rudy and Touchdown Jesus and all of it. You have to cope with it and adjust beyond it. Don’t think about it while you are out on the field. Pay your respects and play the game of football. Go out and execute. That’s the key for this weekend. Execute at Notre Dame.”