October 19, 2008
By David Driver
Used with permission
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The year was 1998. The head coach was Jim Caldwell. And the locale was the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
That game, a 42-0 loss a decade ago, was the last time Wake Forest was held scoreless. That was until Saturday afternoon, when the 21st-ranked Deacons offense was stymied in a 26-0 loss to host Maryland before 46,257 fans here in an ACC game.
Wake (4-2, 2-1 in the ACC) had 219 yards of total offense and missed the chance to have a 3-0 record in the conference for the first time ever.
"We earned that zero. That was a well-earned zero. If you don't execute on offense you are off the field very quickly," head coach Jim Grobe said.
"That was pretty bad. I have never experienced a shutout before," said Wake quarterback Riley Skinner, who completed 14 of 30 passes for 127 yards. "I'm not too excited about it. It's not a good feeling. It's something where you get that bad taste in your mouth and you can't let it happen again. We didn't capitalize in the red zone."
"If one guy messes up our offense crumbles," said D.J. Boldin, a senior wide receiver who had seven catches. "As an offense we just weren't clicking today."
Senior placekicker/punter Sam Swank missed his second straight game with a strained quadriceps. Wake again turned to freshman Shane Popham, who missed a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 47-yarder in the second quarter.
Popham punted nine times for an average of 36.8 yards and put two balls inside the 20. One of his punts went just 17 yards.
Popham said he "pretty much knew all week" he would be kicking since Swank, who was in uniform, is still sore.
"He knows he should have made those field goals," Skinner said.
Said Grobe: "I really like the way Shane hit the ball. He was a little different than last week when he was pretty tentative. I think anytime your trade-off is a redshirt freshman for a fifth-year senior, that's not really a good trade-off."
The Wake defense had its own troubles.
Maryland quarterback Chris Turner completed 28 of 41 passes for 321 yards as he had plenty of time to throw all day.
The Terps (5-2, 2-1) had 470 yards on offense and Darrius Heyward-Bey (11 catches) became the first Maryland player to have 10 catches in a game since 1995.
"We could not get anything going," said Matt Robinson, the senior defensive end. "It was one of those days. I thought defensively we had a good effort."
It was the first ACC shutout at home for Maryland since a win over Wake in 1996. What was wrong with the Wake offense?
"The defense probably didn't play as bad as it looks," Grobe said. "They didn't get much help from the offense."