Thursday, August 2, 2007
Wake Forest Preview
2006 Results: 11-3 overall, 7-2 ACC (1st Atlantic Division, ACC Champions); lost to Louisville 24-13 in the Orange Bowl
Offense: Nine starters return from Wake's average but highly efficient offense in 2006. QB Riley Skinner returns for his sophomore season firmly entrenched as the starter and carrying ACC Rookie of the Year laurels as well (even though the Deacs had the second-to-last rated passing offense in the league last year). Due to the MASH unit that became the RB position in 2006, Wake had 4 different players start at tailback at various points in the season. All of them (Micah Andrews, DeAngelo Bryant, Travo Woods, and Kenneth Moore) return for 2007. Moore, who had been Wake's leading receiver until he was switched to RB late in the season, switches back to WR this fall. The offensive line returns 4 starters from '06 plus another '05 starter who was 2nd-team last year. These guys won the ACC when their offense was in shambles, personnel-wise. They're loaded now, at least by Demon Deacon standards.
Defense: Here's where the Deacons may slip a notch, and that's not a good sign considering they ranked just 9th in total defense in the ACC in 2006, and 90th nationally. Just one starter from last year returns on the defensive line, and leading tackler and All-ACC LB Jon Abbate inexplicably left school early so that he could go undrafted. The secondary suffers a massive hit (both safeties and the top cornerback have departed). The bright spots are that the three new starters on the DL have some decent game experience, and both OLBs started every game last year. The secondary is the chief concern, especially given the passing proficiency of Wake's first two opponents of the season (Boston College and Nebraska).
Special teams: The Deacs' team MVP last year, kicker and punter Sam Swank, returns with a vengeance. The return game is solid, with Kevin Marion fielding punts and Kenneth Moore handling kickoffs.
Coaching: The Best Little Coaching Staff in America returns for an encore to their masterpiece of 2006. What Jim Grobe, OC Steed Lobotzke and DC Dean Hood turned in last year was a small miracle. The devastating injuries on both sides of the ball forced constant shuffling of personnel and gameplans, and while the Deacs bent quite a lot last year, but never broke. The coaches' focus on limiting mistakes and forcing errors on opponents worked out extremely - almost divinely - well. The entire staff returns this season, but it's a whole new world for these guys now.
For What It's Worth: Wake's much ballyhooed +13 turnover margin last year largely came from three games: +3 @UNC, +4 @FSU, +2 vs. Ga Tech, none of which were home games I might add....and speaking of turnovers, the Deacs are the only program in the nation to commit 20 or less turnovers each season for the last five years....Wake's overall record in Jim Grobe's six seasons: 37-35; Wake's record the six seasons pre-Grobe: 21-46....From the "What Was The Purpose Of This?" Department: on Nov. 27, 1982, the Demon Deacons lost to Clemson 21-17 in front of 80,000 spectators in Tokyo
Schedule Analysis: Things couldn't be laid out more perfectly for the Deacons in their run to repeat as ACC champs (and you have no idea how surreal it feels to have typed that last sentence). The mysterious Wake booster in possession of ruinous photos of the Director in Charge of Football Scheduling is an extortionist extraordinaire; Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia Tech are nowhere to be found on this year's slate. Aside from the first two weeks (@Boston College and a home date with Nebraska), the schedule is nicely spaced out...only once after weeks one and two do the Demon Deacons face '06 bowl teams in back-to-back weeks (Oct. 11 against FSU in Winston-Salem, and then Oct. 20 @Navy).
Projected Wins- Army, Maryland, @Duke, North Carolina, NC State, @Vanderbilt
Projected Losses- Florida State, @Clemson
Toss-Ups- @Boston College, Nebraska, @Navy, @Virginia
For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Demon Deacon Insight: Statistically Speaking (and this is a stretch)
Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:
This is not your father's Wake Forest