|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: Wake Forest looking for rhythm in struggling run game|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 05 September 2007 13:10|
After gaining just 2 yards in 24 attempts at Boston College, the defending champions are trying to rediscover the rhythm in their run game.
``I didn't expect to rush for only a couple of yards,'' coach Jim Grobe said.
The Demon Deacons' perennially potent ground game - they led the league in rushing four times between 2001-05 and finished second in 2004 - took a step back last year because of injuries and the emergence of quarterback Riley Skinner. They gained about 50 fewer yards rushing per game in 2006.
But nobody expected this kind of drop off. One week into the season, Wake Forest is 117th nationally - ahead of only Florida International at minus-3 yards and Notre Dame, held to minus-8 yards by Georgia Tech.
Two sacks that totaled 18 yards didn't terribly skew the Demon Deacons' poor numbers. Remove those big losses, and they're still in the bottom third of the league.
``We forced them to pass, and they're not a passing team,'' BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said.
Stalled on the ground, the Demon Deacons uncharacteristically aired it out, throwing 60 times for 366 yards in their 38-28 loss to the Eagles.
``I don't think throwing it 60 and running it 20 is in my wheelhouse,'' Grobe said. ``Maybe not 50-50, but we'd like to be more balanced for sure.
``We felt the best way we could move the football was by throwing it. The plan was pretty good, except we had two red-zone interceptions and that got us beat,'' he said.
CHANGE OF HEART: Tommy Bowden switched from fierce rival to supportive son after Clemson's 24-18 win over his father's Florida State Seminoles.
Bobby Bowden's new-look Florida State offense looked inept in the first half of the Bowden Bowl, managing only one first down and 62 yards.
While Tommy's Tigers were a big reason for Florida State's - and his dad's - troubles, the younger Bowden expected his father to take an optimistic approach about the Seminoles' chances this year.
``I think if I were in their shoes, I would take the second half,'' Tommy Bowden said. ``You got a new staff, you got all this stuff you're trying to do, you catch Clemson at home on fire ... all of a sudden, you take their blow and you respond.''
Florida State rallied from a 24-3 halftime deficit to get within a touchdown of winning. The Seminoles gained 194 yards in the final two quarters.
``The second half performance and how they played, I would think with my father being a pretty much a positive-minded person, is going to use that as a springboard as what their potential and possibilities are,'' Tommy said.
NO WARNING NEEDED: As he prepared his Maryland football team to face unheralded Florida International this weekend, Ralph Friedgen didn't bother bringing up Appalachian State's 34-32 season-opening upset of mighty Michigan.
He didn't have to. After all, what kind of coach would he be if he hadn't already warned his players about the danger of playing a heavy underdog?
``I hit them with that a long time before that one,'' Friedgen said. ``It's a game of momentum. Who's ready to play? If you don't execute, have a bunch of penalties, lay the ball on the ground; I've seen it before. Anything can happen.''
Even though Florida International opened its season with a 59-0 loss to Penn State, Friedgen had no intention of letting his players bring a smug attitude into the game.
``It's like getting in a fight,'' he said. ``If you're not ready, you're going to get beat.''
REY'S BIG DAY: Vincent Rey made the most of his first college start at Duke.
The sophomore finished with a career-high 17 tackles in a 45-14 loss to Connecticut, a strong performance in a defense playing without suspended junior linebacker Michael Tauiliili.
The 17 tackles tied for third nationally in the first week of the season. His previous best was three tackles against Boston College last year.
Not that Rey had the perfect performance.
``I had a productive day, but personally I had a lot of mental mistakes,'' Rey said. ``A lot of people wouldn't know and the fans wouldn't know, but my coaches knew and they were on me for that, which was well-deserved. Those things can't happen, but the good thing is we have another game this week so I can correct those mistakes.''
RAMBLING WRECKED: Was Georgia Tech's dominance of Notre Dame and offensive whiz Charlie Weis a fluke, or a sign of things to come?
Yellow Jackets coach Chan Gailey isn't sure yet whether holding the Fighting Irish to minus-8 yards rushing and 3 points on their home field proved the toughness of his defense.
``I don't know that you can make a discernment on one game from anything in the country,'' Gailey said. ``You have to get to the end of the season and turn around and look and say, 'This is what happened, and this was a precursor to what was going on during the season,' or an abnormality to how the game was played.''
AP Sports Writers Pete Iacobelli in Clemson, S.C.; Aaron Beard in Durham, N.C.; and David Ginsburg in College Park, Md., contributed to this report.