Demon Deacons Ready for Death Valley


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CLEMSON -- When senior quarterback Riley Skinner leads his Wake Forest Demon Deacons into Memorial Stadium Saturday, he expects to face a talented Clemson football team backed by 80,000-plus hostile, orange clad fans expecting nothing less than a Tiger victory.

Memorial Stadium, “Death Valley,” is considered by many as one of the best venues to play and watch college football. It’s also a tough place for opponents to win. The Tigers have won more than 71 percent of their games (227-88-7) played in the stadium.

The Deacons know they face a big challenge anytime they play Clemson, but especially when the game is in Death Valley.

Head coach Jim Grobe is 3-5 against Clemson in his eight years at Wake Forest, with all three wins coming in Winston-Salem. He is 0-3 in Death Valley.

The Deacons last won in Clemson in 1998 when head coach Jim Caldwell – current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts – coached the Deacons to a 29-19 win.

“We don’t see anybody that has more talent than Clemson,” Grobe said in his weekly press conference. “(Death Valley) is an exciting atmosphere. The problem is it’s hard to concentrate. Especially players that don’t have experience playing in Death Valley. It will be a great challenge.”

Players such as Skinner and junior tailback Josh Adams said they are excited about playing in Death Valley and having an opportunity to win an ACC road game.

“It’s fun,” Skinner said. “It’s a pretty exciting place to play. When their crowd is going against you, you’ve got to play through that. You’ve got to play through 80,000 something yelling at you. It makes the game that much more fun. That’s why you play college football.”

Adams agreed.

“It’s a tough place to go,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere. When Clemson is at home they bring it to you. I played there myself. At some points of the game you can’t even hear Riley (Skinner) with the cadence. You’ve got to really focus and know your assignments.”

The Deacons may have a little more motivation coming into Saturday’s contest with memories of the 2007 game still in their minds, Skinner said. Some players on the team remember the feeling after the 44-10 “whooping” Wake took in that game, he said.

A strong running game would go a long way in taking the crowd out of the game early and possible negate the electric atmosphere expected in Death Valley, Grobe said.


“If you’re able to run the ball anywhere it helps your throwing game; you can keep people off balance,” he said. “On the road it helps a lot; it keeps your offensive on the field. Sometimes if you have to throw it all the time it becomes a thrill a minute.”

Being able to run the football helps control the clock and keeps the defense off the field, Grobe said, adding “(the running game) kind of calms your offense.”

But the fact remains, that Clemson owns a 33-7 record against Wake Forest in games played in Clemson and is 28-7 in Death Valley in the series. Wake Forest has won twice at Clemson since 1962.

Skinner and his teammates are hoping for a big road win in Clemson Saturday.

“There’s nothing better than winning in somebody else’s place,” he said. “Obviously, there’s going to be adversity when you play in a place like that. We’ve got to make sure not to let the crowd in Death Valley, that whole atmosphere, get to us … when the game is on the line.”

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