So Far this Season, The “Price” is Right: Wake Forest Sophomore QB Tanner Price off to a tremendous start

[caption id="attachment_6" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Tanner showing off that smooth lefty release against N.C. State"][/caption]



After the first two games last year of Wake’s football season, true freshman quarterback Tanner Price looked like he was on his way to a breakout rookie season. Then again, the first two games last year were against the team with the worst mascot in college football history, the Presbyterian Blue Hose, and the Uke Blue Devils (and no it’s not a typo people, think about it). But then Tanner faced his first real test against a quality opponent in Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinals. Thus the ensuing season went down the toilet faster than a dead pet goldfish. The young quarterback found himself facing a daunting ACC schedule. Many times last year Tanner looked uncomfortable in the pocket, constantly sporting the, “deer in headlights look”, as he was being constantly hounded by defensive lineman. It was kind of hard to live up to the expectations when every announcer would echo the fact that he played at the same high school as Drew Brees. Seriously, if I hear that dead horse being beaten again  by a commentator doing a Wake game again this year, I might vomit. But after watching a painful season of football last year, I can already see what a difference one year has made for this guy.

After two games this season, he looks way more comfortable in the pocket and more self-assured in his decision making process. He has finally been able to display that rocket lefty tight spiral that people had heard so much about in his recruiting process. I think it was pretty obvious to most that if he doesn’t get hurt in the season opener against Syracuse, Wake is looking at a 2-0 start. No one has ever questioned his ability on the field; he just didn’t seem to be the vocal leader that you need to be as a quarterback to be successful at this level. His quiet demeanor on the field last year I think was interpreted as fear and nervousness. I mean to some extent that is true. But who isn’t going to be nervous when you transition immediately as a starting quarterback under Friday night lights to the primetime of Saturday afternoons. He was given a, “baptism by fire”, by being thrown in there so early in his career, but ultimately I believe it was the best thing that could have happened for him. Sometimes experience is the only way to for you to learn. It just was unfortunate that his learning experience consisted of being pummeled by defenses every Saturday. However, I can say his quiet demeanor on the field has turned more into a calming presence. Tanner has been able to grasp the concept of the offense much better and play-calling has been centered around his strengths as a quarterback. The mild-mannered signal caller doesn’t have to be vocally intense; he lets his play on the field do the talking for him. Through the first two games he is 40/66 for 586 yards, 4 TD’s, and 1 interception. He has accumulated a passer rating of 152.2. After his reverse 40 yard T.D. toss last week against N.C. State, Michael Campanaro technically holds the teams’ highest passer rating with 766 and I'm sure he'd let you know about it. No QB controversy will result of this, although we will probably see Campanaro show off his arm a few more times before the end of the season.

Last season Tanner was hesitant in the pocket and held the ball too long, resulting in some sacks that weren’t necessarily to be blamed on the offensive line. This season his timing has gotten significantly better and his release of the football seems to be in rhythm. You can even see the difference with the timing he has with the routes of his receivers. Last year Tanner was able to recognize the holes in the defense in the film room, but this year he is able to read and recognize them on the field at game speed. Another great asset for Tanner this season is the emergence of two legitimate receiving threats in Michael Campanaro and Chris Givens. Givens showed flashes of brilliance last year, but struggled with nagging injuries and Campanaro was targeted sparingly. Both have had tremendous starts to the season and look to be the go-to guys in the air for Price this season.

There is one tremendous indicator to me that separates good quarterbacks from great quarterbacks, and that is body language. Watch all of the great quarterbacks ever to play the game like Montana, Brady, and Manning. Those guys never get too excited after throwing a T.D. pass and they never hang their heads after throwing an interception. After an interception Peyton Manning goes immediately to the bench to talk to his coordinator about what he did wrong and look over the aerial photos of the drive. When he throws a T.D. pass, he does the exact same thing. Now I’m not saying that Tanner is the next Peyton Manning or anything, but if he continues to mature and improve the way he has over the last year, then Wake Forest might have found them a special talent. Price was just recently awarded ACC player of the week honors for his performance against N.C. State(ACC Players of the Week). It was his first time being awarded this honor, but I can it probably won’t be his last.

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