Former Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner was one of the best the Deacons’ offense had ever seen. He was a record-setter in numerous categories. He was the winningest quarterback in school history.
And he was also the slowest quarterback this staff had ever coached.
That could change this fall, and so could Wake Forest’s offense.
It’s the first time since 1957 that Wake Forest has had zero passing attempts among its returning quarterbacks. When the Deacs begin practice on Thursday, the most experienced passer on the roster will be wide receiver Marshall Williams, who went 3-for-3 for 52 yards last year, throwing off reverses. Ted Stachitas is the only other quarterback who has taken a snap in a game. He was in for the final six plays of Wake’s 35-7 win over Elon last year.
Offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke said the staff will take about 12 practices and a few scrimmages to figure out who the starting quarterback will be. Only then will it begin to build an offense around him.
“It could be different,” Lobotzke said. “Whoever ends up being that guy is going to drive two things: How much do we do in the run game because of that kid’s mobility and feet? How good of a runner is he? The faster the runner, the bigger the run game. The slower the runner, the smaller the run game, Riley being the bare minimum.”
A fast player who can make all of the throws would obviously be the ideal. A slow player who can’t make the throws?
“Then I’m probably home for Christmas,” Lobotzke said.
Skylar Jones enters Thursday’s practice as the leader by default -- he was the healthiest of the bunch coming out of the spring. If his durability holds up and he continues to progress, it’s his job to lose.
Equally as important is the offensive line, where the Deacs have to replace four-year starter Chris DeGeare at left tackle. Redshirt freshman Steven Chase was moved over from the defense this past spring, where he had about eight practices, but he’s not DeGeare. Dennis Godfrey was expected to be, but he missed some spring ball with a concussion and his weight has been too high.
“I don’t know what the answer is there,” Lobotzke said. “Two-a-days are going to tell me a lot about both of those guys. That’s my big question mark. If I can find that position and keep my other four healthy, I feel pretty good.”
Staying healthy is critical up front for the Deacs, because the offensive line just isn’t dependable enough with the two-deep rotation yet.
Russell Nenon at center has progressed well this offseason after having elective shoulder surgery and missing the spring. Joe Looney is in his third season starting at left guard and the staff is confident in his ability. The right tackle was a carousel position last year with Jeff Griffin and Joe Birdsong. Doug Weaver has emerged as a solid player there and Lobotzke said he now thinks it’s Weaver’s time. At right guard, Lobotzke is waiting to see if Mike Hoag is healthy from a hamstring injury that hampered him this spring.
Unfortunately for Wake Forest, the two biggest offensive concerns are at the two most important positions, but if the Deacs can solidify that this summer, they could surprise some teams this fall.