College football: Skinner learned from loss

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Associated Press
WINSTON-SALEM ó Riley Skinner has long wanted a second chance to face Navy. The Wake Forest quarterback figures the Midshipmen are just as eager to see him again, too.
“They’re probably licking their chops right now, ready to pad their stats,” Skinner joked Tuesday.
For good reason.
When they met three months ago, Skinner’s five turnovers helped Navy upset the then-No. 16 Wake 24-17. Now Skinner is looking to redeem himself Saturday when he faces the Midshipmen again in a rare postseason rematch at the EagleBank Bowl.
“If you’re a quarterback and you’ve had that kind of game, the worst game of your career, you’d be crazy if you didn’t want another shot at them,” Skinner said. “As much as I hate watching the film (during) the last two weeks, over and over again, it kind of gives you a little motivation and urgency to get back out there and go play these guys again, kind of prove something and get a little revenge.
“That’s obviously, from my standpoint, what I’d like to do. Just knowing that you were pretty much the reason for that loss is pretty tough on you, but it’s also motivating.”
The Demon Deacons’ slide from ACC title contender to lower-level bowl team seemed to start that sloppy Sept. 27, when the otherwise dependable Skinner lost a fumble and threw four interceptions.
After its 3-0 start was spoiled, Wake Forest (7-5) lost five of its final nine games and backed into the ninth and final bowl game with an automatic ACC tie-in.
“It’s really a mixed bag ó on one hand, you want to be proud that you’ve won seven games, you’re going to the third bowl in a row for the first time in school history,” coach Jim Grobe said. “You’ve got to feel good about that accomplishment. But I wouldn’t want our kids to have lost (midseason games) with chances to go play in the (ACC) championship game and feel good about that.”
There weren’t many positives for Skinner to pull from his previous meeting with the Midshipmen. Navy jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and forced five first-half turnovers ó four by Skinner.
“We tried to stress to the offense how important it was to make first downs and be productive, and I think Riley probably felt too much pressure to make big plays and work the ball down the field and be a superhero,” Grobe said. “A couple of times, Riley didn’t make good decisions, but a couple of times, Navy made good plays. … I think Riley knows that in the game Saturday, he’s got to protect the football better, no question.”
The Demon Deacons didn’t have another multiturnover game until the Boston College loss on Nov. 22.”Nothing from the Navy game really changed our offense,” Skinner said. “It may have changed our attitude. It may have changed our work ethic, things like that. But schematically, nothing’s really changed. We just know the importance of turnovers. There’s no better example than that game.”