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August 16, 2011Winston-Salem, N.C.- No this is not part of ESPN's documentary series, describing the evolution and current status of major college and NFL quarterbacks, but rather where Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price is at, and the high expectations for him going into 2011.
The sophomore signal caller from Austin, Texas knows what he must do to take the Demon Deacons back to respectability.
"I really want to get back to a bowl game this year," Price said. "I think that's a big thing for us. Last year I threw more interceptions than I did touchdowns. I want to cut down on my interceptions, and throw a few more touchdowns."
In 2010 Price completed 56.8-percent of his passes for 1,349 yards, but threw seven touchdowns to eight interceptions.
Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said that at least three or four of those interceptions hit receivers in the hands, then bounced into the air and were caught by someone for the other team.
Nonetheless Price still took responsibility, spending the entire off-season and training camp working to improve his knowledge of the offense and ability to read opposing defenses.
"The nice thing is with Tanner we really don't have to do much, because he's not a finger-pointer," Grobe said. "He's not a blame somebody else. I think he's a kid that is just trying to get better every day. He knows if he gets protection, if we run the ball better it takes some pressure off him. He knows if his supporting cast plays well he's got to play well. It's very important to him to play well."
The supporting cast is there for him to make the strides he needs too for the Deacs to be successful offensively.
His offensive line returns four starters, who are all seniors and redshirt junior center Garrick Williams returns to anchor the offensive line after three starts last season.
Grobe said it all starts upfront, and that he has never seen a good offense with a bad line. In 2010 Price was sacked 19 times. Despite being under constant duress most of the previous year Price is not worried going into his sophomore campaign.
"I feel really confident about our offensive line," Price said. "I was real excited after I came back, and saw the way they looked. They looked like they really put in the work in the summer time, and during our break. I think just having four returning offensive linemen, four returning starters is going to be huge. I think we're going to see a lot different performance from the offensive line."
Josh Harris and Brandon Pendergrass are proven running backs, so if they can stay healthy, and are given the holes to run through they will take pressure off Price and the passing game.
Another comforting factor for Price is the reliability that returns at receiver. Monday's scrimmage supports this claim. Without his top two targets Michael Campanaro and Chris Givens, senior Danny Dembry stepped out from the shadows, catching six passes for 112 yards, while Turner Faulk pulled in nine balls for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Campanaro, who will be healthy in time for the Sept. 1 season opener against Syracuse, said Price can depend on him.
"He can always count on me that I'm always going to get my spot, and if he's looking off at his first and second reads he knows that I'm going to be there," Campanaro said.
Price is a year older. Last year got more than just his feet wet. It was a full-body submersion, while under fire, but he has learned from the previous season's adversity, and is ready to hit 2011 head-on.
"I think Tanner is comfortable," Grobe said. "You're talking about a quarterback who had three weeks before he had his first college start, and you're playing for the marbles. Tanner is I don't know how many times better, but he's a lot better than he was last year."
This is 2011, and it is the year of the quarterback, Tanner Price.