Now that Santa has come down our chimneys and our stomachs are stuffed to the brim with turkey and sweets, it's time to move on to the next exciting part of the Bulldog holiday: the Music City Bowl. But with the game just a day away, what do we really know about our opponent, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons? Not much right now, but fortunately, our friends at Blogger So Dear, the SBNation Wake Forest Blog, are here to help us out by answering some questions on the Deacs.
Q1: Mississippi State and Wake Forest have never faced off on the gridiron. Give our readers some basic info that would be good to know about the team.
BSD: First off, it's important to know about Jim Grobe. The Head Coach of the Demon Deacons is a hard-nosed, grind-it-out guy who focuses on ball control and playing mistake-free football. In the past, that was defined by an opportunistic defense that would give up a ton of yards, but few scores and come up with a big play to flip the field and get the offense rolling.
These days, with special teams down, and the weapons that Wake Forest has offensively, the Deacs' identity is as a high-octane football team led by star quarterback Tanner Price and All-ACC WR Chris Givens.
BSD: Wake will give you a lot of looks offensively. You could get a little zone read, a little option, some I, some pistol, a whole bunch of shotgun with some draws and three/five step drops mixed in. The offense flows through Price, who will try to get it out to Givens and Campanaro (as well as the other receivers) early and often.
Knowing Grobe, I wouldn't be stunned to see Wake try to establish a running game (not saying it will work, just that he will try) with his three-headed monster of Brandon Pendergrass, Josh Harris and Orville Reynolds.
Q3: Who are some of the big playmakers on offense and defense?
BSD: Already mentioned, but Price, a QB from Texas, who has a big arm, huge stones and a great presence in the pocket. Givens is an NFL talent, and is making his decision about whether he is declaring or staying for his senior season after the game. My gut says he's going to go, and he'll project in the second-fourth range depending on his measurables. Campanaro can play anywhere on the field, but is used mostly in the slot.
Josh Harris, despite his injuries this year, is the homerun threat the Deacs have in the backfield. Reynolds, a freshman, has breakaway speed, but is still raw.
Defensively, look to Kyle Wilber and Nikita Whitlock to be around the football early and often. In the secondary, Bud Noel (who suffered an injury in practice on Thursday and is questionable) is the most talented player the Deacs have, and was near the top of the nation in passes deflected. Josh Bush had a redeeming season as he was moved to safety and played much better.
Q4: What exactly is a "Demon Deacon" and where did that mascot come from? Also, are there any special traditions that are unique to Wake Forest?
BSD: The Demon Deacon name came from the school's Baptist heritage, and in the 20s, the team started being called Demon Deacons as homage to their play and a throwback to the religious nature of the university. The name kind of stuck, and the mascot started showing up.
As far as traditions, it begins and ends with the Demon Deacon itself. The Deac has a motorcycle he rides onto the field, and it's become one of the more consistent things the school does. After big wins, Wake students will also Roll The Quad with toilet paper.
Q5: How do you see the game playing out? Final score prediction?
BSD: I don't think this will be the highest scoring bowl game we'll see this year. We don't have another Toledo-Air Force on our hands. Although I think Wake's offense is actually better than people think, its defense still has a ways to go.
Both teams keep it close, but I have a feeling Mississippi State pulls it out, 21-17
***A big thanks to our friends at Blogger So Dear for filling us in on the Deacs. We also encourage you to check out the Q&A we did for them on the Dawgs over at their site.***