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'Prepare to win'

Elon to face Wake Forest on Saturday

by Pam Richter,
  • Junior quarterback Scott Riddle passed for 346 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday against Presbyterian College. File Photo.

  • Sophomore linebacker Joshua Jones had seven tackles last Saturday. File Photo.

On Saturday, the Elon football team will embark on a mission that has only happened once before in the history of the program — facing a school in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Phoenix will travel west on I-40 to face the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night. Wake Forest is 1-1 on the season after recording a come-from-behind win against Stanford University 24-17.

Elon, ranked No. 11, will enter Saturday's game 2-0 on the season with an explosive 41-7 victory over Presbyterian College last Saturday.

"Overall it was certainly a lopsided win," said Elon head coach Pete Lembo. "Most of the guys who made the trip with us got significant playing time."

Sophomore running backs Jamal Shuman and A.J. Harris each ran for more than 100 yards.
Shuman ran for a career-high 190 yards on 26 carries, and Harris ran for 114 yards. This is the first time since 1999 that two Elon players tallied more than 100 rushing yards in the same game.

Shuman was named the Offensive Player of the Week in the Southern Conference.

Junior quarterback Scott Riddle threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Terrell Hudgins and junior wide receiver Sean Jeffcoat each recorded more than 100 receiving yards. Elon finished with 614 yards of total offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Phoenix held Presbyterian's total offense to 91 yards of total offense. In two games this season, the Phoenix has allowed only seven points and 195 yards.

"It's a great confidence builder for them and it's not so much the fact that we haven't given up a lot of points and yards," Lembo said. "It's just how well we were playing."

On Saturday, the Elon defense will line up against a well-balanced offensive attack from Wake Forest. Senior quarterback Riley Skinner led the nation in completion percentage during the 2007 season.

Despite Skinner's success, Lembo said  Wake Forest is a "run-it-first team."

Even though Wake Forest is an FBS opponent and in the ACC, there are similarties between the two teams on the football field.

Like the Phoenix, the Demon Deacons is a veteran team with 14 starters returning from last year's team that made it to the Eagle Bank Bowl game.

"This is one of those games that you can't make a whole lot of mistakes," Lembo said. "You can't turn the ball over, you can't have penalties. You've got to be very fundamentally sound."

In addition, Lembo said the two teams have similar offensive styles and are similar "schematically."

"We'll be able to go a little bit of offense against defense (during the week in practice), meaning first unit against first unit," Lembo said. "Hopefully that'll help our preparation."

Saturday's game will be the toughest test yet for the Phoenix this season and it is arguably the highest-profiled opponent the Phoenix has played in recent history.

"We're going to go and prepare to win the game," Lembo said. "We're going to go over there and do everything we can to beat them."

Many of the players in the current Phoenix roster played against the University of South Florida in 2007 — the last time Elon faced an FBS opponent.

For Shuman and red-shirted freshman kicker Adam Shreiner, the Wake Forest game will be their first experience against an FBS opponent.

"I'm really excited," Shuman said. "I just have to find a way to keep my emotions level and not let them get the best of me in the game."

Shreiner said the team is going to try and approach the Wake Forest game as just a regular game.

"Obviously the crowd and the size of the stadium is going to be a little bit different," Shreiner said. "I think everyone is really excited and super fired up to see how good we are."

For Shuman and the rest of the Phoenix the mission is simple: "Do our assignments and eliminate little mistakes," Shuman said.

Breaking down the Presbyterian Game by the numbers
.1 average yards per rush for the Presbyterian College Blue Hose

1 interception by Elon's senior defensive back Cameron McGlenn
 
7 points Presbyterian scored on the Phoenix defense

10 third-down conversions out of 17 for the Phoenix

12 times Presbyterian College had to punt

13 games that junior quarterback Scott Riddle has passed for 300 or more yards – a Southern Conference record

44 yard-reception by junior wide receiver Sean Jeffcoat – the longest catch of the game

190 rushing yards for sophomore running back Jamal Shuman – a career-high

614 total yards of offense for Elon against Presbyterian

Top five things to look for at the Elon vs. Wake Forest game

1. It is only the second time Elon will face a team in the Football Bowl Series. The last time Elon faced an FBS opponent was in 2007 against University of South Florida, where the Phoenix was defeated 28-13.

2. Elon's defense has held its first two opponents to only seven points and 195 yards of total offense for both Presbyterian and Davidson.

3. Red-shirted freshman kicker Adam Shreiner hit his first career field goals, from 26 and 37 yards.

4. When the Phoenix defeated Presbyterian, it was the first time since 1999 the team had two 100-yard rushers in a single game. Sophomore running backs Jamal Shuman and A.J. Harris rushed for 190 yards and 117 yards respectively.

5. Junior defensive back Terrell Wilson and junior running back Brandon Newsome didn't play against Presbyterian. Head Coach Pete Lembo said he will "get them back this week" to play against Wake Forest. Lembo said he is unsure if sophomore running back Dontay Taylor will play Saturday after injuring his knee against Presbyterian.