Tanner Price has gone to his go-go guy Michael Campanaro so many times over their careers that by early into the 2013 season, the two should go into the Wake Forest record books together.
Since first linking up in 2010 — the freshman season for Price and redshirt-freshman season for Campanaro — Price has completed 154 passes to his main target. With 16 more, they’ll eclipse the school record of Brian Kuklick’s 169 completions to Desmond Clark (1996-’98).
Campanaro said he’s chasing a personal goal of 100 catches, which he may have achieved a season ago if he hadn’t missed two games with a broken hand. Even if he only matches last season’s total of 79 receptions, the record should fall in the first few games.
So the question becomes not whether they should set the new school record, but whether they can be the ACC’s best passer-receiver combination.
"I think so," Price said. “We have a great connection and we have a lot of experience now."
Campanaro said their shared success is a result of more than their individual athletic abilities. Price ranks fourth in Wake Forest history with 618 completions, fifth with 6,666 yards and fifth with 39 touchdown passes. Campanaro ranks fifth with 162 receptions and 11th with 1,703 receiving yards.
"It’s even more special because I can’t remember one time we’ve kind of gotten into a fight — do you know what I mean?" Campanaro said. “You hear about a lot of receivers and quarterbacks (saying) ‘You’re not throwing me the ball,’ or ‘You’re doing this or you’re doing that.’
"But I think that’s why Tanner and I are so successful, because we’re always together. He’s back there working his hardest and he knows I’m out there working my hardest. If I mess up on a route or he messes up on a throw we’re not getting on each other. We’re just encouraging each other just to get back out there and let’s get it right.
"We’re on the same team trying to win the game."Price, for his part, said he has the utmost confidence in Campanaro’s ability to get open.
"He’s really smart,’’ Price said. “He knows how to read the defenses, sit in the holes and get open. A lot of guys can’t do that.
"So that’s what makes him special, his ability to read defenses."
Although he appreciates as much as anyone the synergy that has developed between Price and Campanaro, Coach Jim Grobe said one critical need this season is for other receivers to emerge to help fuel the Deacons’ passing game. He pointed to the 2011 season, when Chris Givens caught 83 passes and Campanaro caught 73.
Not coincidentally, that was Wake Forest’s only season out of the last four to end in a bowl game.
"I think the thing we’ve got to do is make sure that Tanner’s not tuned into just trying to throw it to Camp," Grobe said. “You’ve got to feel that most of the times you throw in his direction good things are going to happen. But I think the one thing we don’t want to do is get one-dimensional and have every throw be Tanner looking to Camp.
"We’ve not seen that. I think if everybody’s covered up, he’s probably going to try to get it in there to Camp, but other than that I think he’s done a really good job getting it to guys who should have it."
Grobe has mentioned repeatedly a need to establish a more effective running game, which could reduce the number of times Price drops back looking for Campanaro. But Campanaro said he can envision just the opposite effect.
By the end of last season, when Campanaro was still nursing his broken hand, the Deacons’ totally-predictable nickel-and-dime passing game had become way too easy to defend. Campanaro maintained that won’t be the case this time around.
"I think we’re running a lot of things on offense right now that could help our passing game," Campanaro said. “It’s shown in previous scrimmages.
"The offense, we’ve taken huge strides since week one. We’re still getting better. But I think our passing game is going to be a lot more efficient this year than last year when we were just dropping back and throwing it.
"We’re going to have some deep balls. We’re going to have a lot of stuff going on."