Wake vs. Presbyterian: preview

Wake Forest vs. Presbyterian
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Venue: BB&T Field
Kickoff: Thursday at 6:30 PM EST
Previous season's records:
Wake Forest: 5-7, 3-5 ACC
Presbyterian: 2-9, 0-6 Big South
Series history: The Demon Deacons have an all-time series lead of 6-4-1, including a 53-13 win over the Blue Hose at BB&T Field in 2010.
That victory was Jim Grobe's only meeting during his head-coaching career.
Quotes of the week
"It's really fun to get started again. I think the way we ended last year didn't sit well with anybody. We're excited and we're ready to get going again. We've been practicing a long time since spring ball so it's fun to get cranked up and play somebody."
"I think Harold Nichols does a great job. I think they have got some similar issues we've got. They're an academic school playing a lot of good teams and they're very, very well coached. We know some of their assistant coaches as well. So we know they're going to be very well coached. I think in the first game anything can happen. You worry about taking care of the football; you worry about special teams; you worry about giving up big plays on defense. The last time we played them they caught us on one of the coolest trick plays we've ever seen. So this is a very well coached football team and we know going in that we've got to play good." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
"It's huge. Last year we started off 2-0 which was big for us. You've got to get the first one. You can't look ahead. We have Presbyterian coming in here, so we're taking these guys very seriously. - Wake Forest wide receiver coach Michael Campanaro
"We've got a tremendous opponent in Wake Forest. I have a lot of respect for Coach Grobe and what he's done and accomplished there at Wake Forest. They've got a really good football team." - Presbyterian head coach Harold Nichols
Keys to the game
1) Balanced attack
The Deacs struggled much of 2012 to get into a regular rhythm of success offensively, which makes it even more important to establish a good balance of the run and the pass.
Josh Harris' return and emergence in fall camp after missing the first six practices gives Wake an experienced running back and a true homerun threat, while Michael Campanaro is the go-to-target Tanner Price can depend on.
However, Wake needs its supporting cast to perform well … specifically and most importantly the offensive line, which appears to gelling well. Presbyterian's defensive front should not be too challenging of a first test for true freshman center Cory Helms to cut his teeth before he faces Boston College Friday, Sept. 6.
Wake Forest must know the constant whereabouts of linebacker Donelle Williams, who led the Blue Hose in tackles last season with 103.
2) Rising to their defense
Combine Wake's experience and talent on defense with Presbyterian's inability to score last season (15.5 points per game in 2012) is a recipe for the perfect storm.
Demarcus Rouse rushed for an impressive 427 yards and nine touchdowns last season, but Wake Forest should be well-equipped to stymie the Presbyterian running back with All-ACC nose guard Nikita Whitlock leading the charge along with a strong stable of defenders.
The Demon Deacons will also have to keep track of wide receiver Jeremiah McKie, who should be covered by the no-fly zone also known as Kevin Johnson, A.J. Marshall and Merrill Noel's island.
3) Don't look ahead
Wake Forest nearly fell to Presbyterian's Big South counterpart Liberty in its 2012 season opener when it hung on to beat the Flames 20-17 before defeating North Carolina 28-27 the following week.
The Blue Hose appear to not pose the threat Liberty did, but it could still be easy to look ahead to BC.