This past spring, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe spent more time in the offensive staff meeting room than he has his entire tenure with the program, according to offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke.
Together they picked apart everything they did last year -- looked at how they used personnel, where they might have been wasting time, what they can do better. They changed the offense, and they changed one of the staples that has come to help define Grobe’s philosophy as a coach: redshirting.
Since Grobe was hired in 2001 -- through 12 seasons -- he has only played a total of 22 true freshmen. To put that into perspective, consider that Miami alone played 16 true freshmen last year. Wake Forest played two. During the 2006 season, not one true freshman played for Wake Forest and Grobe has never played more than three in a season.
If that’s going to change, this will be the year.
“We’re opening it up now,” Lobotzke said. “We’re telling everybody we want to win this year, we’ll play anybody it takes on either side of the ball to do that. The redshirting policy is kind of on hold right now. We just want to win. We want to win, we want to win right now, so we’re going to play anybody if it will help our depth.”
That includes offensive linemen, quarterbacks, running backs -- you name it. Lobotzke said the staff recruited four offensive linemen in its 2013 class who have the potential to see immediate playing time. They also have five quarterbacks -- the best depth the program has seen in years at the position -- and Lobotzke said the staff won’t hesitate to “pull a shirt off” one of those rookies if need be.
After finishing 5-7 last fall, there has been a greater sense of urgency to win this year, especially with a senior-laden team.
“We’ve raised the bar here at Wake Forest,” Lobotzke said. “It used to be, if you went 5-7, everyone kind of said, ‘Oh, OK, good try, guys, get ‘em next year.’ Now we’re really trying to encourage our players to be pissed about 5-7. We’re saying, ‘Hey, look, this is unacceptable. This isn’t the Wake Forest of 10 years ago. This is the new Wake Forest, where we don’t accept 5-7. Something has gotta change right now, and if we don’t go out and win, we’re going to play some young guys. Compete for your jobs and those spots and understand that just because you’re old doesn’t mean you get to be the starter. You have to earn it and you have to go win.”
Redshirting is a plan for the future, but the Deacs are starting to play for now.