Wake Forest wants to go retro on offense this season, all the way back to the days when it featured a dual-threat quarterback able to mix the run with the pass.
The Deacs shied away from that philosophy over the past several seasons, but not anymore. Thanks to better depth behind starter Tanner Price, they are going to try to expand what he can do when spring practice opens next week.
"We got this way with Riley Skinner, and we did a lot of things to try and protect him," coach Jim Grobe said in a recent phone interview. "We just got too cautious with Tanner, trying not to put him in a position where he might get dinged. We’ve got to be a little more aggressive with him. One of the things we liked about him out of high school was that he was a dual-threat quarterback. We haven't really used him in that capacity, but in watching some of the breakdowns the last few weeks, one of the things we noticed was his ability to scramble out of the pocket. We will put Tanner in some situations where he has to run. We can’t just hang our hats on throwing the football."
Wake Forest did have those dual-threat guys in Ben Mauk and Cory Randolph, but Skinner was a guy who was a much stronger passer and not exactly adept at running the ball. When Price played as a freshman, he did run but offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke recalls, "We overdid it." Price ended up getting hurt in 2010. A lack of depth behind him made Wake Forest even more cautious.
But as Grobe said, toward the end of last season the Deacs had some success with designed quarterback draws. Now, Lobotzke is interested in integrating standard spread-option runs, zone reads and quarterback draws.
"We're not going to do what Georgia Tech does," he said. "But we are looking for ways to expand what Tanner can do. He's a decent runner. At least now if he does get hurt, we have a stable of guys behind him."
Though Wake Forest does return leading rusher Josh Harris, the ground game hasn't exactly been the envy of the ACC. Coaches hope getting Price more involved will give a boost to the ground game as well. Of course, how much Wake can do and how successful it can be depends on the guys up front. This spring, Wake Forest will not have its full complement of linemen.
But at least the Deacs will get a bigger glimpse at what Price can do with the ball tucked under his arm.
"I want to be more of a threat running the football," Price said. "I’ve been working on my speed a little bit, try to put on weight to be more of a threat and that will, in turn, set up the passing game."