Thursday, November 6, 2008

game preview: Wake Forest


History against the Demon Deacons: 34-12

Last matchup: UVA 17, Wake 16 in Charlottesville, 2007

Last week: UVA lost to Miami, 24-17; Wake beat Duke, 33-30

Line: Wake Forest by 3.5

Wake Forest season preview here.

Wake blogs: Old Gold & Blog

UVA injury report:

OUT: LB Aaron Clark, LB Jared Detrick, LB Cam Johnson, DE Zane Parr, RB Mikell Simpson


QUESTIONABLE: TE Mark Ambrose, CB Vic Hall, FB Keith Payne, TE Joe Torchia

PROBABLE: LB Antonio Appleby, LB Darren Childs, LB Jon Copper, FB Rashawn Jackson, WR Kevin Ogletree, TE Crutcher Reiss

If not for Clemson, Wake Forest might be the one under the microscope in the petri dish labeled "Disappointing Season." Remember that the Clemson/Wake tilt a month ago was supposed to put the winner in the driver's seat for the division. Wake's riding shotgun now, despite their win over the Tigers, waiting for Maryland to crash out and hoping they can get three more ACC wins without the drama that accompanied their first three.


- Overcome linebacker injury troubles. If you're counting, that's six of them on the injury report. The linebackers are the absolute key to our defense this week. Wake's Riley Skinner has a very high completion percentage and a low yards-per-attempt. This is the hallmark of the dink-and-dunk offense. The running game is not very good, to put it kindly, so - you've seen this show before - the short passing game attempts to replace it. What was supposed to be a strength of the offense now shows the top two backs, Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass, averaging barely 3 yards a carry between them. Wake will get their pass completions, but it's on the OLB's to ensure those completions aren't accompanied by big YAC.

- Verica's got to be on top of his decision-making game all day. He's got sniper's accuracy, but a slight predilection for the what-was-he-thinking pass. Wake is fourth in the conference in interceptions, 1.5 per game. With as defensive-minded as this game is likely to be, turnovers are going to hurt more than usual.

- STOP WASTING PLAYS. This is a wish I'm not going to get, but I guarantee you Mikey will run that damn roll-out-only-to-find-the-tight-end-blanketed play at least four times. This is how we get into second and long situations. And while I'm wishfully haranguing the play-calling, when the situation calls for three yards and a cloud of dust, for the love of God don't go all June Jones on us.

- Key plays from Raynard Horne. Next man up, man. Peerman has been successful this season because the coaches have been giving him breathers at the right time and keeping him fresh for the fourth quarter. It was Mikell Simpson's job to go out there at those times. Now we need Horne, and probably Rashawn Jackson too now that I think about it, to keep up the pace when Peerman's resting.


- Same cornerback play as last week. It wasn't good. Jacory Harris was continually able to find open receivers on the sidelines for 15 yard pickups and neither the players nor the coaches ever adjusted. The corners gotta step it up and be in the right place at the right time so that the dink-and-dunk passes that Wake likes get them 2 yards instead of 6.

- Turnovers. Like I said, this is gonna be a tight, low scoring game. At least it ought to be, given the way the respective defenses and offenses have performed this season. It sounds cliche to harangue on winning the turnover battle, which is why I rarely mention it. It's a key to every game. But in a game where scoring is likely to be rare, it's double and triple important not to hand the opposition golden-platter opportunities.


Tight, low-scoring. Lot like last week, actually. Again, we should win, and again, this is no implication that we will. We're talented enough to expect to win a lot of these games and bad enough to blow them. Mathematically, I think we'd probably still be alive for the division if we lost, but realistically, a loss would end those chances and put our bowl hopes at real risk besides. It's a must-win for both teams, and both teams are looking to get bowl-eligible on Saturday. The margin for error for either team is razor-thin.


Virginia Tech 23, Maryland 13 on Thursday. Meteor Game results in win for the Hokies. Looks like it's up to us then.

Georgia Tech at North Carolina, 12:00. Loser can forget about the division title.

NC State at Duke, 3:30. Closest thing we have to a conference pillow fight.

Clemson at Florida State, 3:30. Thank God, we haven't heard BOWDEN BOWL! all week, until right now.

Boston College vs. Notre Dame, 8:00. Catholics duke it out.

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