“I shouldn't have played him as a true freshman,” coach Jim Grobe said. “He wasn't ready for that, and his supporting cast wasn't very good -- probably the worst year we've had since I've been at Wake Forest.”
Price set school freshman records for passing yards (1349), completions (137), passes (241), completion percentage (.586) and touchdown passes (7). But he also suffered 19 sacks in 11 games.
The starting quarterback always gets the lion's share of criticism when a team struggles, but when he's wearing the number of the record-setting quarterback he's trying to replace, the criticism gets intensified.”
“We put him in number 11, not conscious of the problems that could cause,” Grobe said. Riley Skinner, the school's all-time leading passer, wore that number the four years prior to Price arriving.
“We didn't think he'd play,” Grobe said. “We figured we'd stick him in 11, he'd redshirt and then we'd switch him to 10.”
Instead, Price's 11 jersey symbolized to fans just how much the position had dropped off from the Skinner era.
“I struggled my freshman year,” Price said. “But we made strides last year. We got back to a bowl game, but at the end of the day, we were still 6-7 and had a losing record.”
Now that he's feeling more comfortable in the pocket, Price is ready to take another step this year as a junior.
“His improvement from freshman to sophomore year was fantastic,” Grobe said. “If he makes the same strides from his sophomore to junior year, he's going to do some pretty special things for us.”
There's just one catch:
“His offensive line and supporting cast of receivers have to do a good job helping him out,” Grobe said.
Star WR Chris Givens is gone, along with four of the starters from the 2011 offensive line. That means that, despite being older and wiser, Price might end up taking lumps again this year.
Grobe and Price are both convinced that the line is up to the task of protecting the quarterback.
Garrett Williams returns at center, perhaps the spot on the line where experience is most important. Antonio Ford and Frank Souza, converted from the defensive line over the offseason, will man the guard spots, and Steve Chase and Colin Summers are slotted for the tackles.
The line also has a new coach. Jonathan Himebauch brings energy and, more important, undivided attention, to the line. In previous seasons, Steed Lobotzke coached the line, while also serving as offensive coordinator. “I was never really happy having our line coach also coordinating,” Grobe said.
“He's not going to get knocked around like he did as a freshman,” Grobe said.
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