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And in that corner… The Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Nov 2, 2011, 4:13 PM EDT

Wake Forest

The Irish now enter the ACC portion of their schedule, with a trio of Atlantic Coast opponents on the docket with Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College up next for the Irish. The first of that trio is Jim Grobe‘s Demon Deacons, who sit at a surprising 5-3, with four wins in conference play, including a upset victory over Florida State.

Here to give us more on the Deacs is the managing editor of Blogger So Dear Martin Rickman, who is in charge of a “Wake Forest Demon Deacon sports blog where Charlie Brown is still trying to kick that football.” Peanuts references aside, you’ve got to like the blog for the title alone, a play on the lyrics of the school’s alma mater:

Dear old Wake Forest, Thine is a noble name;
Thine is a glorious fame, Constant and true.
We give thee of our praise, Adore thine ancient days,
Sing thee our humble lays, Mother, so dear.

Mother so dear, blogger so dear — I feel a mean-spirited sportswriter joke right around the corner.

With Irish fans in severe need of some Demon Deacon knowledge, I asked Rickman some questions on his beloved Deacs, and he gave me some very good answers.


What does this game mean to Wake Forest and their fans? This will be the first time the two programs have met and while it’s definitely second banana behind LSU-Alabama, the game will be on national TV. Is it a tough ticket? Does Notre Dame resonate in your corner of the country?

It’s a huge game for a number of reasons. Notre Dame doesn’t play true road games often. We’ve been working on this series for awhile, what with the number of connections between ND and Wake: Irish AD Jack Swarbrick’s son is a Demon Deacon and WFU President Nathan Hatch worked at Notre Dame for 30 years.

And even more importantly than the prestige of the Golden Dome is that this game would get Wake bowl eligible after a difficult loss to UNC. It’s definitely one of the biggest non-conference games the Deacs have ever played, and tickets are hard to come by (something that doesn’t happen often).

The Demon Deacons are coming off an ugly loss, but have put together a nice run so far, highlighted by a big upset over Florida State. Is a 5-3 record a surprise at this point, especially seeing how 2010 played out?

This season has been a big surprise. If you looked up and down the schedule at the beginning of the year, it would be hard to find five wins all season. Instead, Wake was a handful of plays away from a win at Syracuse to start the season, held a 10-0 lead early against a good VT team, and pulled out a big win over Florida State.

Obviously BC and State being down a bit has helped, but Tanner Price and the WRs, along with some better-than-expected play from the DL and CB Merrill Noel has fans excited, something that didn’t happen much a year ago.

Offensively, you’ve got to be enthusiastic about this team. How good are the Deacs offensive weapons? Tanner Price, Chris Givens, Josh Harris and Brandon Pendergrass seem to be a talented group.

This offense is one of the finest that Wake has ever had. Price is one of the three best QBs in the ACC. Givens is a Top 10 WR in the country. Harris, when healthy, has incredible playmaking ability. Pendergrass runs hard, picks up tough yards and is a veteran leader. The offensive line has made great strides from a year ago, especially in pass blocking. WRs Michael Campanaro, Terence Davis and Danny Dembry have all made some huge catches this year.

The offense has stalled at times, and a lot of that has had to do with an inconsistent running game, but they can definitely put up points.

Nikita Whitlock is putting up some really impressive numbers, wreaking havoc in opponents’ backfield. How good is he? Who else on this defense will make an impact on Saturday night?

Whitlock is one of the most underrated players in college football. He’s “undersized,” and you hear about it all the time, but he’s unstoppable. It always takes two guys to block him, and when he gets a blocker one-on-one, he gets in the backfield with regularity. He has terrific closing speed, and wraps up his tackles. He and Kyle Wilber have really helped the Deacs get more pressure defensively.

In the secondary, I already mentioned him, but Bud Noel (despite getting manhandled by Dwight Jones on Saturday) is having an unbelievable year for a RS-FR. The Pahokee grad, same school as Alphonso Smith, deflects a ton of passes and has shown good tackling ability, especially on the quick swing passes to WRs. He makes mistakes, but has grown a lot on the field, and potentially has an All-ACC future ahead of him.

Wake Forest has the 106th rated rushing attack in the country. Can the Demon Deacons be effective on Saturday night as a one-dimensional offense?

I’m really not sure. Josh Harris is still hurting, and Pendergrass desperately needs J-Roc in there as a change of pace. There’s a small chance the Deacs burn the redshirt on true freshman Orville Reynolds, and his speed would definitely help, but there’s no denying the fact that Wake is going to need a much better game from Price than they got against the Tar Heels.

Price was rushed into some throws and made some poor decisions, and he will need Givens early and often to take pressure off the running game up front. It’s no secret that Notre Dame’s defense against the run is the strength of that unit, and I expect the Irish to use blitz schemes and a little zone to try and speed up Tanner. The Deacs need to get something out of the running game though, and that’s going to be a big key to watch.

Wake Forest is a two-touchdown underdog. What’s the recipe for success this Saturday night for Jim Grobe’s squad?

Better play defensively, especially in one-on-one coverage. At least 100 yards on the ground from whichever combination of Harris, Pendergrass and others sees the field. Winning the turnover battle. And taking risks offensively. If Wake gets vanilla when they have the ball and are more worried about controlling the ball than going for the jugular, the Fighting Irish’s big plays can take Wake right out of the game.

On film, the Demon Deacons actually match up pretty well against Notre Dame, and I think the 14-point spread is a little much. I’m not convinced Wake will have enough to win it, but stranger things have happened, and the nature of the game—at home, on national TV, at night, against an opponent like this—should add to the Deacs’ focus.


Read more of Martin’s work at Blogger So Dear, or follow him on Twitter @MartinRickman.

  1. NDfan1224 - Nov 2, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Lets hope ND comes out and play some really good football this weekend and starts Nov. with a bang and rolls going into the Standford game hot.

  2. nudeman - Nov 2, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    This comment is especially for Goat:
    Keys to an ND win:
    Good coaching
    Good offense
    Good defense
    Good special teams
    No turnovers

    Also, if Gray and Wood rush for a combined 600 yards they’ll win.

    • domer77blowsgoats - Nov 2, 2011 at 5:09 PM

      Thanks Nude

      Again you leave the reader much to be desired, you left off the most obvious “key” of them all

      Score more points than the Double Ds…

      Again thanks for the effort and see you at the Rees family tailgate on Saturday!

      • bernhtp - Nov 2, 2011 at 5:28 PM

        I actually was at the Rees family tailgate USC Saturday afternoon – specifically right across at Eifert’s – and I somehow missed you two.

      • nudeman - Nov 2, 2011 at 8:30 PM

        I saw you.

  3. oldestguard - Nov 2, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    As the Deacs are my second fav team, i will be one of the 31,000 in attendance this Saturday.

    Stiil rooting for an ND victory, but I have alot of respect for Coach Grobe and what he’s gotten out of that program especially the last 5 years. No let-ups ND …Deacs will play hard for 60 min.

    Glad this series was set-up…. 2 great traditions on display here …….and all the sweet tea and southern fried chicken I can handle this weekend !

  4. NotreDan - Nov 2, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Irish 49 Deacons 10.


  5. barneysbullet - Nov 2, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    …”stranger things have happened.”

    No kidding.

    All I have to say is you fellas better go inside of ’em and outside of ’em, inside and outside, and when you get them on the run, you better KEEP them on the run…fight, fight, fight, fight, fight!

    Anything short of this guys, and you could be looking at another L.

    Don’t take this game lightly or it will bite you.

    Go Irish…Play like a Champion (on Saturday)

    • tedlinko - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:20 AM

      After the wake-up call this team got vs. USC, I don’t think taking anyone lightly will be a concern. At least I hope not. I expect them to come out focused and determined. I don’t agree with NotreDan’s 49-10 prediction. The game’s at their place, on National TV They’ll keep it closer than that. But bottom line is, if the Irish execute, we’ll win.

      • 9irish - Nov 3, 2011 at 8:42 AM

        I agree with that! I never have gotten into this prognosticating, “oh we’re going to beat the hell out of them” stuff…you never know.

        We’ll win, (we better!), but I wouldn’t go talking about some track meet just yet.

        Teeny tiny stadium…on national TV…this is going to be an interesting game.

        I hope you’re right, NotreDan, but I’ll settle for 6-2!

        Go Irish

  6. barneysbullet - Nov 2, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    Good to see nude and domergoats made up…keep it up boys.

    After all…we are all pulling for the same team, right?


    • NotreDan - Nov 3, 2011 at 7:58 AM


      • nudeman - Nov 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM

        Correct, speaking for myself.
        ND 33
        WF 16

    • domer77blowsgoats - Nov 3, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      hardly after the following comment from yesterday, again I am blow away by the maturity of a 65 year old

      Nude you obviously can’t hang here and are grasping at straws – I’ve used this line before but it is oh so fitting: My unborn zygote can pen a better response/comeback than that….

      pray for warmer weather so that you might have more dial-up time to craft a worthy response…

      nudeman – Nov 2, 2011 at 8:28 PM
      Uh oh
      Even though your assessment of Rees was positive, you listed his negatives
      Now you’re on “the list”
      Get ready to know Goat and his caddy UAW really well.

      Goat is actually not that bad of a guy, but I don’t think he wipes after #2
      Other than that, OK. Make sure you take any snaps from him from the shotgun

      • nudeman - Nov 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        It was the best I could do
        Felt very under the gun to match you; pressure is not my thing. Doing the best I can.

        As Tesio pleaded in The Godfather: “Can you cut me a break? For old times’ sake?”

      • domer77 - Nov 3, 2011 at 12:51 PM


        You have been had, not once, twice, but three times (a lady…oops sorry, we all know that’s not how you roll…wink). Goat has answered each of every one of your pathetic efforts to blog with, as we say in the legal profession, “facts and circumstances.” Now, c’mon, let’s crawl into that boy cave of yours, Netflick all the past episodes of Doogie Howser, M.D. and spend the rest of those cold winter nights fantasizing over a grown up Neil Partrick Harris….hint, just tune into “How I Met Your Mother,” and your dreams will all come true.

        In the meantime, you will spare all of us your, how did that union guy put it, oh yes, the verbal diarrhea that constantly evacuates from your pie hole, if your will simply go away (see above boy cave.)

        See you in the Spring and please bring with it a new, refreshing attitude. Here’s one to get you started, “Tommy Rees for Heisman!”

        As to you Mr. UAW, I just bought me a new DEtroit product…can you spell “VET.” What a great country.

    • nudeman - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      domer77, goat, UAW (aka “The Best & The Brightest”)

      Guys, sorry; lines a little slow here today. 9.6 BPS on a party line doesn’t quite cut it when trying to keep up with the frenzy of your give & take. I’m Floyd Patterson to your Ali. Ringo to your Lennon/McCartney. Lewinsky to your Clinton.

      Goat, listen, this week at the Rees Family t-gate, I’m bringing some of those brownies you like so much. Remember last time? You sang BeeGee songs and showed everyone your junk? Wow. I’ll take your word that “good things come in small packages”. But why would you … never mind. Water over the dam.

      ND 33 WF 16
      Rees: 14-26, 155 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs, QB rating: 12.2
      Crist: 11-14; 165 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, QB rating: 107.8
      Gray: 14 carries, 111 yards
      T’eo: 13 tackles

      • 9lirish - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:07 PM

        Domer, Goat, Nude, UAW –

        I have been a very interested bystander in all this ND football blog banter. I, being the old-timer that I am have some pointed, albeit a bit ol’ fashioned, comments regarding you four:

        1. Goat – by far the best screen name I have ever seen – your whimsical humor and unrelenting “nude” bashing (with mostly facts as Domer has pointed out) have added great levity to this board

        2. UAW – tip of the cap to your undying and unrelenting union love – your posts yesterday were some of the most creative and humorous I have ever seen – BUY AMERICAN!!!

        3. Domer – good to see my old adversary back on the boards – your post above would get my vote for one of the best of the year if it weren’t for UAW’s yesterday! CRUNCH!!!

        4. Nude – you sir have taken an unbelievable beat down at the hands of the aforementioned. I am probably one of the only few that generationally understand your dated references, but hey – hard to keep up on dial-up right?

        Gentlemen, as I close, let’s stick w/ this, we are all passionate ND supporters obviously, can we all agree that Nude has lost this war and focus our energies on supporting our young gentlemen that strive for the greatest deserved for Our Lady? GO IRISH!!

        9lirish ’62

      • nudeman - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        9 Irish
        I am not prepared to concede ANYTHING. This is Dunkirk, not Stalingrad.
        Retreat, reconstitute, re-emerge stronger and more formidable than ever. Never, never, never give up. Never.

        As we speak, I am looking into bumping my line speed up to 19.2 bps. Might even hire some key entry types in Bangalore.

        Stay tuned.

      • 9irish - Nov 3, 2011 at 7:38 PM

        Just to clarify, I am 9irish, the comment was from 9lirish (don’t know where the hell he came from). I think you’re banter is kind of funny but I, “9irish”, am not getting in the middle of it!

      • 9irish - Nov 3, 2011 at 7:40 PM

        “your banter”…sorry

  7. fitz79 - Nov 3, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    I think the key this week is gonna be dominating the line of scrimmage. I wanna see a smash mouth run game established early and often. Let’s not try to get too cutesy with the playcalling. And please no backwards laterals deep in our own territory. Get the run game goin and it’ll open up some big passing opportunities. Defensively this Wake team can not run the ball so hopefully the secondary shows up to play and the linebackers improve on thier pass coverage. I’m tempted to predict ND wins big but let’s just keep our feet on the ground here. A win is a win is a win.

  8. barneysbullet - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:02 PM


    My bad.

    Maybe I jumped the gun on nude and domerblow’s newfound friendship…

  9. ndgoldandblue - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    I actually think that having a primetime game on the road is a good thing for the Irish. Going into the USC game, I feared that there might be a letdown because a lot of the pressure is on the home team to go out and play well. All that the visiting team needs to do is show up and play…no distractions. What happened to the Irish against USC might happen with Wake Forest this Saturday.

    I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think the Irish have ever played a night game against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Plus, they are going to be “psyched” to play a high-profile program like Notre Dame. Sometimes, when a team is getting psyched up to play a big-name opponent, what happens is the team gets psyched out. From what I could see during the first quarter of the USC game, that’s what happened to the Irish. Big week, lots of recruits, rivalry game, night game, etc. That’s a lot to live up to. Anyway, because of this, I have a feeling that Saturday’s game might be closer to the Purdue game than the Pittsburgh game. I won’t be as bold as NotreDan, but nudeman’s prediction seems to be about right. Comfortable win…and the closeness might come from garbage-time points.

    • nudeman - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:51 PM


      “but nudeman’s prediction seems to be about right.”


      You have no idea how much this means to me. Vindication, at LAST!

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        I actually meant that your prediction about the score seems to be about right. I imagine the Irish will score in the 30’s and Wake will be in the teens. This game has that sort of feel to it. I’m not so sure of your stat line on Rees, though. Four picks? If that were to happen (and I imagine it won’t), the Irish would not win by the comfortable margin that you predict. They wouldn’t even win at all. If Tommy throws four interceptions, the Irish would lose 33-16 and the Irish would have a quarterback controversy.

      • nudeman - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        4 picks from Tommy is an achieveable number. We’ve seen it before.

        I don’t want to see ANY picks from ND, but if that’s what it takes to get Dayne on the field and play meaningful minutes, so be it. He’s arguably in his final 4 games as the starting ND QB.

        Clisk HERE to join the “Nudeman for Golson, 2012” campaign

      • nudeman - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        4 picks from Tommy is an achieveable number. We’ve seen it before.

        I don’t want to see ANY picks from ND, but if that’s what it takes to get Dayne on the field and play meaningful minutes, so be it. He’s arguably in his final 4 games as the starting ND QB.

        Click HERE to join the “Nudeman for Golson, 2012” campaign

    • 9irish - Nov 3, 2011 at 8:02 PM

      You are pretty much spot-on, and no they’ve never played there before. Honestly I am surprised they are playing in such a small stadium.

      At least they’re not playing in Cowboy Stadium or some other crazy place, or somewhere big on the SE seaboard. And, a crowd of 32,000 can be quieted pretty quickly

      • berniepnd74 - Nov 4, 2011 at 11:59 PM

        My understanding is that there are a couple of reasons that they are playing there. First, Swarbrick’s son has a connection to WF. Secondly, we have recruited a number of good players in the last few years out of the Carolinas, and playing a game right there is a heck of a recruiting tool.

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