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September 28, 2012

Five keys: Wake Forest vs. Duke

Wake Forest vs. Duke
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Venue: BB&T Field
Kickoff: Saturday at 12:30 PM EST
TV: ACC Network
Current records:
Wake Forest: 3-1, 1-1 ACC (Beat Army 49-37)
Duke: 3-1, 0-0 ACC (Beat Memphis 38-14)

Series history: The Blue Devils have an all-time series lead of 53-37-2. However, the Demon Deacons have won 12 in a row, including a 24-23 decision at Duke last season.

Jim Grobe is 11-0 versus the Blue Devils, and 31-8 against other schools in North Carolina during his head-coaching tenure at Wake.

What is on the line? Both teams are competing for a winning in conference play, while Wake Forest's 12-game winning streak versus Duke is at stake. The victor will be only two wins away from earning bowl-eligibility.

Quotes of the week

"To me it's a conference game, but also it's an in-state game. Playing in-state games is like playing the high school that's right down the street. You want to be the best school in your town. If you're in Dallas you want to be the best school in Dallas. If you play in Wylie you want to be the best school in Wylie, so playing those in-state schools I really want to get the W. NC State, Duke, UNC, all of those teams it's just like playing that rival high school down the street." - Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock

"I don't know how there's a streak going on, because we've had so many games that have literally just been an interception, an overtime, or a blocked field goal or a roughing the punter one year that gave us an extra series, just crazy stuff, just some really close hard-fought games. We'll be in a battle again Saturday." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe

"It's a conference game. Each conference game kind of has its own life. Unfortunately this Wake game has been very difficult for us. We've lost so many close ballgames. I think that becomes very important to us, that we feel like we've got to get our competitive edge going in this series. Hopefully we can be on the right side of a close ballgame." - Duke head coach David Cutcliffe

Keys to the game

1) Force Duke to run

Wake has been solid against the pass this season, yielding just 211.8 yards per game, which is good for sixth in the ACC. The Deacs must force the Blue Devils to run, which is an area Duke has been shaky in thus far. Duke averages a meager 112.8 yards rushing per game.

It is no secret Duke quarterback Sean Renfree and wide receivers Conner Vernon and Jamison Crowder lead one of the more dynamic aerial attacks in the ACC.

Renfree has completed 99-140 passes for 1,078 yards and nine touchdowns to four interceptions, while Vernon and Crowder have a combined 58 receptions for 767 yards and five touchdowns.

"I think one of the big things with Sean Renfree is he's been playing the game for a long time," Wake Forest inside linebacker Riley Haynes said. "I've personally played against him twice. He sees everything well. He's got a great arm. He's a good leader."

"He's got good guys to throw to. He's got nice receivers. He's got a veteran offensive line, so I think one of the big things with that entire offense is they're veteran and when you have a veteran quarterback just as Tanner's [Price] getting older you can see as an older quarterback they run it more smoothly, they make throws, they know where the pockets are and that's one thing that Sean does really well. He finds the pockets in the defenses, so we're going to have to mix things up and try and confuse him a little bit, which will definitely be difficult to do."

2) Build on last week's rushing success

After struggling out of the gate running the football early this season the Demon Deacons rushed 38 times for 296 yards and five touchdowns on the ground versus Army. Wake Forest must have sustained success in this category if it hopes to take pressure off the passing game and produce a balanced offense.

"We got a couple of running backs that can run the football if we can get people blocked, and that's going to continue to be going forward the emphasis," Grobe said. "If our offensive line can put hats on people we got a chance to move the football running it, and if we can run it that makes everything better."

3) Familiarity with the 4-2-5

This is Duke's second season with the 4-2-5 defensive scheme, and Wake already saw a variation of it earlier this season when it defeated North Carolina 28-27.

"Coach Cutcliffe made the comment to him it looked like they had 12 guys on defense Saturday," Grobe said. "I don't think Memphis had 200 yards [of total offense]."

"I think it helps [to have already faced a 4-2-5 defensive scheme against UNC] a little bit. I think Duke has some different things that they like to do. They like to play man coverage, and they'll play some straight zero coverage where they won't have a free safety. They'll just come and get you, and try to pressure you and man up everybody and say get it off. It's a little different from what we saw with Carolina. It gives us some more headaches and more things to think about."

The Blue Devils rank sixth in the ACC in total defense (343.8 yards allowed per game) and ninth in points allowed per game (26.8).

4) Keep it going with Campanaro

Michael Campanaro has pulled in at least 10 receptions in every game this season except in Wake Forest's 52-0 loss at No. 4 Florida State.

Tanner Price has been unable to find a relative a consistent target outside of the redshirt junior from Baltimore.

"Well, Michael, he was the same last year," Cutcliffe said. "He does everything well. He is really strong. He's really fast. So he's physically talented. He is fiercely competitive."

"Once he gets the ball, you can tell he thinks he can score, break a tackle, make a move. Great hands, he's a deep threat. He goes across the middle and catches the ball with no fear. He takes those screens and makes them immediately dangerous because he's such a good open-field runner. He's a guy that makes a lot of things about their football team go."

Campanaro is the ACC's leading receiver with 36 receptions for 421 yards and three touchdowns.

Offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke along with passing game coordinators Tom Elrod and Lonnie Galloway will certainly be continuing to devise creative schemes to get Campanaro touches and put him in position to make plays.

5) Special teams

This has been an Achilles heel for Wake this season whether struggling to return kicks and punts (16.8 yards per kick return and 6.2 per punt return) or make field goals. Jimmy Newman has made all of his PATs (13-13) this season, but is 0-2 field goals and booted a kickoff out of bounds against Liberty.

Special teams have had a significant impact on the outcome of games in this series, so Wake Forest must see improvement in these categories.


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