WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Jim Grobe wants most of his players to spend five seasons at Wake Forest. Matt Robinson has done him one better.
Teammates call the 24-year-old defensive end “Grandpa” because he’s making the most of his sixth year with the Demon Deacons, playing a key role up front for one of the ACC’s better defenses.
“It’s not something I really think about, because football’s kind of lived in the moment,” Robinson said. “I could sit here and look back, it’s been a long road and there have been a lot of ups and downs. But at this level, and with everything that’s going on, it’s so intense (that) you have to stay in the moment. You can’t get caught looking back or looking ahead, or you’ll probably get burned.”
Robinson has started all seven games for the ACC’s fourth-toughest defense to score against. The only graduate student on the depth chart forced a fumble at Maryland and had four tackles last week at Miami.
“Seems like he came in with the coaching staff,” Grobe quipped.
The Demon Deacons coach wasn’t that far off.
Grobe’s arrival before the 2001 season only preceded Robinson’s by two years. Like nearly every incoming freshman at Wake Forest, he redshirted in 2003, then was a two-year starter before breaking his kneecap in the 2005 finale. The injury cost him the entire ‘06 season and kept him out of the team’s Orange Bowl run. After what was supposed to be his senior season in 2007, he received a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA.
“’Grandpa’ gets a lot of grief,” Grobe said. “Last year was the year all his buddies left, all the fifth-year guys from last season (who) were in his class. He’s staying with it, and I don’t think of (senior linebackers Stanley) Arnoux and Aaron Curry and those guys as younger guys. But they are to Matt Robinson.”
Boston College and Clemson have developed a tradition of tight games in just four years together in the conference, and the schools are raising the stakes with a new trophy.
The O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy will go to the winner of Saturday’s BC-Clemson matchup, and the MVP of the game will be awarded a replica leather helmet to honor the teams’ stars when they first met in the 1940 Cotton Bowl — the first bowl game for each school.
“Chuckin’ Charlie” O’Rourke was the first BC player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and James “Bonnie Banks” McFadden was Clemson’s first Hall of Famer.
The Tigers won the Cotton Bowl 6-3, but the Eagles are 8-7-2 overall in the series, unbeaten in six games (5-0-1) since Clemson’s last win in 1958. They have played three times since BC joined the ACC in 2005, with one game going into overtime, one needing double overtime and last year’s decided by a field goal.
Running out of backs
Don’t expect to see Georgia Tech’s leading kickoff return specialist returning any more kickoffs this season.
Jonathan Dwyer leads Georgia Tech with eight kickoff returns for 171 yards, including three for 49 yards in a win at Clemson two weeks ago. But Dwyer stayed at running back last week against Virginia while coach Paul Johnson protected his lack of depth at B-back.
The depth problem has become severe with sophomore Quincy Kelly out with what Georgia Tech has called a non-football medical issue.
The players weren’t the only ones affected by the sudden departure of Clemson coach Tommy Bowden two weeks ago.
Bowden’s remaining staff was forced to keep working as hard as ever despite the stressful, potentially career-altering move.
The wear-and-tear was evident in the voice of defensive coordinator Vic Koenning this week when asked if the Tigers had gotten closer to normal in the second week of interim coach Dabo Swinney. If Koenning agreed with some players that Swinney brings an energy boost to a sagging team, it could be interpreted as a lack of loyalty to Bowden. If Koenning hedged or downplayed Swinney’s role, it looked like the coordinator’s not “all in,” using the new leader’s catch phrase for the commitment he wants.
Only two ACC schools have yet to beat Florida State since the Seminoles joined the league.
Georgia Tech this weekend can leave only Duke on that short list. The Jackets have lost all 12 meetings with the Seminoles — including six in Atlanta — since the league expanded to nine teams in 1992.
That year, Charlie Ward sparked a remarkable comeback that put him in the national spotlight a season before capturing the Heisman Trophy. Ward moved into the shotgun in the fourth quarter and accounted for all but one of Florida State’s 207 total yards as the Seminoles rallied with 15 points in the final 3:20 to take a 29-24 win in what many consider the school’s greatest comeback victory.
“Cholly,” as coach Bobby Bowden pronounces his former quarterback’s name, “was out of this world. We just told him to go win the game and he did.”