By: Jared McMurry
Coming off a close 13-3 loss to Furman in the season opener, Coach McCray and the Runnin’ Bulldogs continue to search for win number one, as they make the short trip to Wake Forest on Saturday.
The Demon Deacons, Gardner-Webb’s only FBS opponent in the 2014 season, are coming off a heartbreaking loss to The University of Louisiana Monroe in their opener.
McCray is looking for improvement on both sides of the ball in the upcoming game, but is also taking positives away from last week’s loss. “You keep a record of third downs, but it was on first and second down where we failed to execute,” he said.
McCray also hopes to see his team come out and have the capability to make big plays, which they failed to do in the loss to Furman. The Bulldogs also failed to score a touchdown after reaching the one-yard line, which would have changed the complexity of the game. “We really had some missed executions that really cost us some opportunities to stay in the game,” McCray said.
McCray noted some positives from the game such as not recording any penalties, only turning the ball over once and not having any substitution problems. This is in consideration of the 30 new players taken into the first game of the season.
Looking ahead to the battle at Wake Forest, a top priority is getting the run game in order offensively. “We really have to have our run game going to be affective offensively like we need to be,” McCray said.
Wake Forest enters the 2014 season with an entirely new staff, including head coach Dave Clawson, and freshman quarterback John Wolford. Clawson brings over experience and success from the MAC Conference, in which his team at Bowling Green blocked 22 kicks in the past four seasons.
“They are a very good special teams team, and they are really going to come after our punter,” McCray said, “I really think the kicking game is going to be big.” McCray believes that the offense and defense will pose its normal problems, but questions if his team can compete in the kicking game where speed and athleticism usually makes a big difference.
Kickoff will be at 6:30 PM on Saturday in Winston-Salem and the game will be televised on ESPN3.