Price makes strides for Wake Forest
Andrew Owens | Thursday, November 3, 2011
Just as Tommy Rees went from high school quarterback to starting college signal caller in less than a year, Tanner Price was thrown to the wolves in his rookie 2010 campaign, and continues to progress at the position for the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest’s sophomore quarterback has improved upon last year’s totals of seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, as he has recorded 14 touchdowns to just six interceptions in 2011.
Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe said one of the key components to Price’s success this year is the improved play of his teammates.
“He’s got a little better help, I think,” Grobe said. “Last year I tried to tell everybody I thought Tanner was potentially going to be a good quarterback for us, but we need to give him more help. I think he’s getting a little more support out of the guys around him than he did last year, but also he’s just making better decisions. He’s taking better care of the football.”
Grobe said the maturation of Price has helped Wake Forest improve from its 3-9 record last year to a 5-3 start this season. The Demon Deacons control their own destiny for an ACC Championship with two conference games remaining, despite a 49-24 shellacking at the hands of North Carolina on Saturday.
“Last year, I think there were some situations where he tried to force throws, and he’s trying not to do that [this year],” Grobe said. “So far he’s taking care of the ball pretty good. He just has a better understanding of our offense right now. I think he has a pretty good feel for what we’re trying to do offensively, and what we’re asking him to do.
“It’s just about what you would expect out of a kid that’s got a year of experience under his belt.”
Irish coach Brian Kelly said he noticed some similarities between his signal caller and Price midway through their sophomore campaigns.
“I think … they’re both learning,” Kelly said after quipping that Price is a lefty and taller than Rees. “They’re both experiencing. They’re both young in the process, but they’re both the starting quarterbacks. Both teams are having some success. We want more; they want more.
“But I think that’s the nature of a quarterback that’s gaining experience. So I think there are some similarities there.”
Price credits his teammates and coaching staff with accelerating his development and helping him to succeed this season.
“I feel pretty confident right now,” Price said. “A lot of that confidence comes from my teammates. The offensive line is doing an unbelievable job for me and the receivers are making great catches. It’s a team effort and I think as a team we’re feeling very confident right now.
“The coaching staff has done a wonderful job … preparing us for each week. They come up with a great game plan and scheme. They’ve also done a good job of keeping us motivated and focused.”
Price’s favorite target has been redshirt junior receiver Chris Givens, as the two have found a groove and connected 52 times for 928 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games. Givens said he does not expect the blowout loss the Tar Heels to affect the young quarterback’s mindset as the team prepares for one of the biggest home games in school history against Notre Dame.
“We’re really just putting Saturday behind us,” Givens said. “We had a lot of mistakes on Saturday and we fixed them [Tuesday] in practice. We’re going to continue to build him up by playing hard, running routes hard and doing the best things that we can for him.”