Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wake Forest players look ahead to offensive changes

GREENSBORO – With Riley Skinner under center for the past four seasons, Wake Forest assumed the identity of a pass-first-pass-often football team.

Skinner, a four-year starter, arrived on campus with an accurate passing arm and eventually became the program's career leading passer. Acknowledging their quarterback's arm, the Demon Deacons, led by coach Jim Grobe, played to their strength.

Skinner's graduation this spring forces the Deacs to find a new offensive strength. And headed into 2010 pre-season camp, their new direction isn't so clear, with four quarterbacks expected to compete for the open spot and offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke tinkering with offense.

"It's going to be different," Wake senior Russell Nenon said on Sunday during the ACC's conference kickoff at the Grandover Resort.

"It's hard to replace a guy like Riley," Wake senior Josh Adams said.

Junior Skylar Jones is a strong contender to earn the starting job, though he has competition in sophomore Ted Stachitas, redshirt freshman Brendan Cross, plus two true freshmen in Tanner Price and Patrick Thompson.

Adams, the Cary High graduate, said the offense is likely to shape after the quarterback who fills the starting position.

For much of Skinner's tenure, the Deacs operated out of a drop-back offensive system that centered around Skinner's arm. What will they look like next season?

"I wish I could tell you," Adams said. "One day we might do the spread, one day we might do the wing. It's all up in the air right now. We worked a lot doing the option, we did the I-[formation], we did the spread as well.

"We worked a lot of things in the springs because we had different quarterbacks with different abilities."

Adams, who ranks 11th in school history with 1,896 career rushing yards, said it's simultaneously exciting and nerve-wrecking to have so much uncertainty surrounding the Deacs' offense. Still, he said players will find their way.

-- Edward Robinson