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Wake Forest embraces the role of spoiler

Nov 15, 2012, 12:06 PM EDT

Jim Grobe

On Saturday afternoon in Notre Dame Stadium, we won’t be short on subplots. A group of seniors will be saying goodbye to the Golden Dome. Manti Te’o will take his curtain call. And the Irish will look to sway some undecided voters as they try to make up ground in a three-team race for the national championship.

Somewhere down the list is Jim Grobe’s Wake Forest team. And that’s probably just fine for the Demon Deacons, who are desperately looking for their sixth win of the season.

“I think certainly you’d be a spoiler if you got to sneak up there and get a win,” Grobe said in his weekly press conference. “Just playing Notre Dame is going to have your kids pumped up.”

On paper, there isn’t much to like about this Wake Forest team. They’ve been brutal on the road, outscored 118-36 in their four road games, averaging less than 200 yards while going 1-3. Their lone victory against a winning team came in week two against North Carolina. They’ve got an offensive line that’s decimated by injuries and plagued with youth, a combination that doesn’t bode well against Notre Dame’s front seven. But they’ll line up on Saturday afternoon knowing they have the opportunity to knock off a national championship contender in mid-November.

“Well we certainly hope our guys don’t go there for sightseeing,” Grobe said. “That’s going to be a key. I think we just have to go play. I’m going to try not to make too big of a deal out of it. We’ve played a lot of good teams so far this year. This will be our third game against a top 10 team that we’re playing. We just know that going on the road is tough and playing a great team like Notre Dame will be a challenge.”

One thing playing in the Demon Deacons favor is their somewhat familiarity with the Irish. Last year, in a game that was one of the most highly-anticipated in Groves Stadium history, Wake Forest battled Notre Dame until the end, having a chance to tie the game up late before falling 24-17. And while Grobe’s squad won’t have the friendly confines of home field advantage on their side, the familiarity with an opponent helps.

“We were very disappointed last year because we had a chance to win, or at least tie it late, and didn’t get that done,” Grobe said. But I think playing at Notre Dame is a little different. This will be a great environment and make our job a lot tougher. But I think playing at home last year really helped us.”

Grobe’s experience coaching at Air Force has given him a look at a football Saturday at Notre Dame. And with the added emotions of Senior Day and a perfect crisp autumn day forecasted, the veteran head coach has his team ready for their surroundings.

“It’s kind of business as usual at practice, but he’s told us that it’s going to be a crazy environment,” fullback Tommy Bohanon said. “You have to think of the craziest stadium that you’ve played in, and it’s going to be something like that. Like going down to Death Valley or something like that. It’s going to be even more crazy than that.”

Perhaps overstating the Notre Dame crowd-noise experience just a bit, Bohanon’s point is valid, if only because of the perfect storm that’s been building in South Bend all season. And for an inexperienced football team that’s crumbled at the seams this year when facing stiff competition, the mental battle will be just as important for Wake Forest as anything happening on the field.

“It’s all mental,” safety A.J. Marshall said about the nerves that come with playing a big road game. “Once you get that first little bit of contact, I feel like we get relaxed. Whether it’s the first catch, first block or first knockdown, you really start to get comfortable and get acquainted to the game.”

“There will be almost 100,000 fans going against us, and we can’t wait to go out there and play.”

  1. dudeacow - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Sorry to spoil your fun, Mr. Spoiler, but there is absolutely no way you walk out of that stadium with a win. (You know, short of scoring more points that us. But anyway…) You will not reach ten points and you will not hold ND under twenty points. heehee.
    FINAL PREDICTION
    Wake Forest wins 35-6*

    *HAHA just kidding ND 35-6

  2. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    This team played us tough last year and we haven’t been our sharpest at home this year, so I just hope there are no real surprises come Saturday. Could we lose to this team on Senior Day? I highly doubt it but anything is possible I guess. I just hope we aren’t too cocky and get caught looking ahead to SC. I hope that BK didn’t get caught up in voting for the Irish as #1 and forget to keep the focus on those Demon Deacons. I’ll be alright, just need a Xanax and some deep breathing techniques to relax a little.

  3. nudeman - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Keith,
    I scanned the article and see no reference to Manti T’eo.
    WTF?

    Manti once shook his own hand … just to see what all the fuss was about.

    Ghosts haunt his house just in hopes they’ll meet him.

    He once ran a marathon, just because it was on his way.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      Sounds like Tebow/Chuck Norris/The most interesting man in the world (dos Equis) comments.

      T’EO will have to have a big game @ USC, overall the defense will have to really force Barkley into mistakes, stop the run and TACKLE MARQISE LEE !!!

    • dmacirish - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      nude – you sir are a douche.

      first it was you busting on keith for “his love affair with tommy reese” and now you are opening the door for “his love affair with manti teo”. i remember kids in 5th grade that got mad when others got attention – seems like you are still there. there was a little bit of time that i began to think that you were adding intelligent comments and then…

      • nudeman - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:18 PM

        You are 100% full of shit, dmac

        First, who is Tommy Reese?
        You mean Rees? I was one of about 20 people here, including even Goat, who thought Keith had a blind spot there.

        Second, I have only said about 30 times now I love T’eo. But at some point … come on. There are other stories that can be told. And if you think I’m the only one who feels that way, go look at a couple of the prior articles

      • domer77blowsgoats - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:30 PM

        damn i missed the typical mispeeling retorts

        and I never once criticized Keith for Rees – only you

        last week xmas came early w/o ur contributions!!

    • domer77blowsgoats - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      well stated dmac

      sick of the attention grabbing comments?

      sick of the CRTL C CRTL P 100 times a day?

      How someone can say that T’eo and his story old is beyond me? Unconscionable!!

      bring on the equally lame name calling and death/coma wishes!!

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:43 PM

      The Mayans have a calendar named after him.

      No matter when he shows up to parties, it’s considered fashionable.

      When God sneezes, angels say, “Manti bless you.”

      He is…the most interesting college football player in the world.

      • nudeman - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:17 PM

        Beautiful
        Someone with a sense of humor here
        Now Goat (aka FWFAG) will pound you with repetitive sh** like

        - What is WRONG with YOU … T’eo is GOD
        - Cut paste cut paste … BLEAT
        - Other dumb stuff

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM

        Meh…I’m used to it. I think Keith’s blog is one of the most insightful on the internet. The guy definitely does his homework. But the comments section has turned into a partisan playground shared by two emerging groups of Notre Dame’s fanbase: Pollyannas and Skeptics.

        The Pollyannas like to throw out lopsided predictions in favor of the Irish because we’re the greatest team in all the land. When those predictions are realized, everyone agrees (and rightfully so). When those predictions don’t come to fruition, they say that we’re still the greatest team in all the land because a win is all that matters, even if it’s an ugly victory against a team with considerably less talent.

        For the most part, I agree. A win is a win, and it’s better than the alternative. But it just reminds me of post-Super Bowl press conferences done by players on the losing team. Before the game, they talk about how much they want to kill the other team. After the game, they stand teary-eyed at the podium, and talk about their “beautiful” children, and how walking their daughters to school in the morning is more important than a football game. Maybe, but the players on the winning side have families as well, and they’re probably not thinking about walking kids to school as they get a champagne bath.

        The Skeptics are much like the folks over at Rock’s House, though not quite as cynical and mean-spirited. They are more likely to keep their guard up out of fear of being let down. That’s the result of fifteen-plus years of futility on the football field. For these folks, it’s hard to look at an ugly win over a mediocre opponent as a sign of good things to come. Maybe 2002 was the straw that broke the camel’s back for them.

        Not everyone falls into these two categories. I wouldn’t say that I’m a skeptic because I’ve only been around for one championship, and I was 9 when it happened. However, I’m more of a skeptic than a pollyanna. But I will say that it seems like those who are entrenched in either side demonstrate their lack of acceptance for anything else on a daily basis. If you’re not a complete pollyanna, you’re not a fan. If you’re not a skeptic, then you’re an idiot. The truth, my friend, is probably somewhere in the middle. Meh…

    • dillonbigred - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      What is with the anger from many of you? Yes, the Manti love is overdone, but I will read most of it. Nudes comments were funny, nothing spiteful. Let’s enjoy the ride!

  4. pacific123ocean - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Florida State beat Wake Forest 52-0…if ND wants to be considered for the National Championship, they need to destroy a team like this with a similar score.

    • nudeman - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:34 PM

      Goat says:
      1. Our style is our defense.
      2. Style points however don’t matter
      3. “What is wrong with you people!!?? If we win 3-2 we’ll be 11-0!!”

      • domer77blowsgoats - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        jesus man get your facts right for once:

        1. Kelly said that, I quoted
        2. We lost the style point battle before it started – we were never gonna drop 50+ per game
        3. See #2 – all that matters is we win – if we win 142-0 it doesn’t freaking matter – opinions and voters have already decided weeks ago. We need KSU or O to lose – nothing else matters

        for someone that spends 23+hours per day refreshing football posts you think this would have sunk in by now

  5. dapperdanirish - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Nude, I know you posted the two different scenario comment earlier, but I’m curious as to what your real feel is for the game? Perhaps what your head vs. heart feel is?

    • nudeman - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      No idea. I could see it going either way. I was surprised when I looked at the WF roster how beefy they are on the OL/DL. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say chance of a “slog” are better that of a blowout.

      I’ll go 24-7, ND.

  6. stedward - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Here’s to playing like ourselves for 4 quarters.

    • runners00 - Nov 15, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      I’ll drink to that! Four quarters

  7. runners00 - Nov 15, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Football’s a contact sport. Wake Forest isn’t going to roll over for us because we have a shot at the title. We have to take it to them and really look to dominate their offensive line when we’re on defense and their defensive line when we’re on offense. This is doable, for sure, but if we’re all celebrating the fact that we’re unbeaten and it’s senior day, they’ll beat us. It’s football. If there is a sport where emotion can really dictate the outcome, it’s football. So, if we’re not into it, we’re in trouble.

    All of that said, I think that our defensive front will be too much for Wake Forest. If they double Tuitt, look for the linebackers Te’o, Day and Shembo to get to the quarterback. If they don’t double Stephon, look for him to get a few more sacks. We’re quicker on defense than they are on offense. As for our bottom-quarter offense, we’re slowly improving. I was pretty surprised — in a bad way — with our offensive line last week against BC. I thought we would have run all over them for must of that game and in the second half, that front four of BC really did well against our offensive line. That has to change this week.

    If we work hard — Golic (my fellow NWC alum), I’m looking at you — I think there are two backs who could rack up a hundred yards. That should be a goal: 250 yards rushing and two backs reaching the century mark. The other goal on offense, of course, should be no turnovers (Riddick and Golson). Let’s get out there and kick some Deacon tail. Go Irish!

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