The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have put themselves in a precarious position as they attempt to get back to the bowl season in 2013. Losing early, winnable games against the Boston College Eagles and Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks has the Deacons at 3-3 at the midway point with a rough ACC schedule still in front of them. If they want to get to six wins, they need to pull off the upset this weekend against the Maryland Terrapins which means nose tackle Nikita Whitlock must come to play.
Whitlock has undoubtedly been the defensive MVP for Wake Forest through the first six games. The senior defensive lineman ranks No. 3 in the ACC in tackles for loss (11.5) and No. 7 in sacks (5.0). He is third-leading tackler for the team with 40 total tackles this season and has forced two fumbles, recorded four quarterback pressures and even blocked a kick. He’s been doing it all for the Deacons in the middle and he’ll need to do even more on Saturday.
Maryland’s offense has taken off this season thanks to the stability under center provided by C.J. Brown. He was knocked out of the Terps’ loss to the Florida State Seminoles with a concussion and missed Maryland’s next game against the Virginia Tech Hokies, but when healthy and on the field he has been dynamic for the Terps. He’s improved his passing ability this season, completing 63.7 percent of his passes this season for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns, but it’s his athleticism that has been a difference maker in 2013. In just four and a half games, Brown has rushed for 286 yards and six touchdowns.
Making Brown uncomfortable in the pocket and containing his ability to pull it down and run with it will be the for the Wake Forest defense this weekend. Pressure up the middle from Whitlock will help to close down some of his running lanes up the middle and lead to some opportunities for negative plays for the Deacons’ D. Whitlock has to get a push up the middle and collapse the pocket to keep Brown from getting into a rhythm, but luckily for Jim Grobe, his big nose tackle is just the guy to get it done.