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November 24, 2012

Five keys: Wake vs. Vandy

Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Venue: BB&T Field
Kickoff: Saturday at 3:30 PM EST
TV: ESPNU
Current records:
Wake Forest: 5-6, 3-5 ACC (Lost to No. 1 Notre Dame 38-0)
Vanderbilt: 7-4, 5-3 SEC (Beat Tennessee 41-18)

Series history: The Commodores have an all-time series lead of 8-6, including a 41-7 win in Winston-Salem last season. However, the Demon Deacons have taken five of the previous 10 meetings.

What is on the line: Wake needs a win to become bowl-eligible.

Quotes of the week

"I think they're very, very well-coached, and they have two running backs that are as good as I've seen on film all year. [Zac] Stacy, he runs hard. He's big, he's fast. They do a lot of different things, throw it 50-percent of the time, run it, they mix it up."

"They're a very balanced offensive attack. Their special teams are solid. They don't make very many mistakes. They got a good quarterback, who doesn't make very many mistakes, so I think they are just clicking on all cylinders right now and it will be a tremendous challenge for us on Saturday." - Wake Forest inside linebacker Riley Haynes

"We really had a tough time this past weekend in South Bend. Notre Dame's a pretty good football team, and I don't think we played our best football, but we were very impressed with Notre Dame and obviously one of the best if not the best team in the country right now, so didn't play very well."

"We really need to bounce back this week, an important game for us. We know that for us to be in a bowl game we need to win Saturday, so I think we will have a good effort out of our kids. We just got to play a lot better than we have been playing a really, really talented and well-coached Vanderbilt team." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe

Keys to the game

1) Strong start

Wake Forest fell behind by large margins in its last two games, blowout losses to NC State and Notre Dame.

The Deacs cannot afford to fall behind early, but would benefit mightily from a successful start against a surging Vandy team.

2) Subdue Vandy's ground game

Zac Stacy, who has amassed 854 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground garners most of the attention. However, Brian Kimbrow and Wesley Tate, who combined for 746 yards and nine touchdowns rushing thus far, have proven to be capable backs and threats to gash opposing defenses.

It is safe to say rush defense is not a strength of Wake's, as the Demon Deacons yield an average 162.7 yards per game. Brian Knorr and the rest of Wake Forest's coaches must discover a way to stymie the Commodores rushing efforts to make the dream to become bowl-eligible come true.

3) Confusing Rodgers

He is not his brother, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, but Jordan Rodgers is playing at a high level. Rodgers has thrown for 2,202 yards and 11 touchdowns to four interceptions.

"I think Rodgers has the ability to beat you with his feet and run the football and also has a really nice arm," Grobe said.

Wake's pass-rush has improved dramatically from a year ago, as the Deacs have recorded 23 sacks to a mere 12 in 2011. The Demon Deacons must continue the positive trend Saturday to rattle Rodgers early, keeping him from getting into a rhythm.

It will also be beneficial to Wake Forest in slowing Rodgers and the Vandy offense down if it can disguise coverages and other defensive schemes.

4) DeAndre Martin and company

The Sunshine State freshman running back has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but has struggled to be consistent. That is largely due to an injury-decimated offensive line. However, Martin may have added pressure to produce depending on Josh Harris' (concussion) availability.

Martin is the second leading rusher on the team with 104 carries for 412 yards and five touchdowns.

Look for Tyler Jackson to factor into the mix if Harris is unable to go. Jackson received six times for 24 yards at Notre Dame. And do not forget Tommy Bohanon, who has been used primarily as a blocker and receiver this season, was brought in as a fullback, so it is not inconceivable to think he could run the ball in short yardage situations.

5) Razzle dazzle

An offense cannot sustain success using trickery, but the elements of misdirection and surprise have for long been cornerstones of Wake Forest teams during Grobe's head-coaching tenure.

With bowl-eligibility on the line for the Demon Deacons it only makes offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke to reach into his bag of tricks at the opportune time(s) in hopes of catching Vanderbilt's defense with its pants down.


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