Entering the 2005 season, the identity of Wake Forest's offense shifted from talented tailback Chris Barclay to returning starting quarterback Ben Mauk. Mauk arrived in Winston-Salem with a host of high school passing records and high expectations, and this was suppose to be the year that he and the Deacon passing attack would take off. However, in the season opener, Mauk suffered arm and shoulder injuries that will force him to miss the entire season.
Wake head coach Jim Grobe turned the offense over to Riley Skinner, a redshirt freshman who won the backup job after a strong preseason camp.
What does Skinner bring to the table? First of all, he's a proven winner. In 2004, he helped lead Jacksonsville (FL) Bolles High to a 14-0 record and a Florida 3A state title. During his prep career, he posted a 28-2 record as a starting quarterback, completing 77% of his passes for more than 2,300 yards, 31 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. He broke the state championship game record with 356 passing yards and tied the touchdown record with four before coming out with seven minutes left as the victory was secure for Bolles.
Despite the prolific career, Skinner received offers from just Wake Forest, Hawaii and Miami (OH) before committing to the Deacons.
Skinner redshirted last season, and went 5-for-8 in the spring game for a team-high 127 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown pass. After winning the backup job in the fall, Skinner probably didn't expect to see the field so early, but he was definitely ready.
Wake hasn't asked too much of Skinner. He has been asked to take care of the football, manage the offense and get the ball in the hands of playmakers. So far, Skinner has done just that. He leads the ACC in completion percentage, passing efficiency and fewest interceptions. More importantly, he's 4-1 as a starter. In slightly more than five games, he is 65-of-95 for 788 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Skinner's 68.4 completion percentage ranks first in the ACC and 11th nationally. His 146.4 rating ranks first in the ACC and 30th nationally — five spots ahead of Notre Dame's Brady Quinn.
Skinner is one of seven quarterbacks in Division I-A with only one interception.
He hasn't come out and passed for a ton of yards or touchdowns, but Skinner has been more than solid. NC State is going to have to keep him from making big plays on Saturday, if they want to avoid being upset by the Deacons.