Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wake Forest Preview

2008 Schedule
Aug. 30@Baylor
Sept. 20@Florida State
Sept. 27NAVY
Oct. 18@Maryland
Oct. 25@Miami
Nov. 1DUKE
Nov. 15@N.C. State

2007 Results: 9-4 overall, 5-3 ACC (T-2nd Atlantic Division); beat Connecticut 24-10 in the Meineke Bowl

Offense: QB Riley Skinner and leading rusher Josh Adams are back for another tour, however much of the rest of this unit will sport new faces in the starting lineup for 2008. And that's not necessarily a bad thing; Wake returned just a handful of starters on offense in 2006 and they only went to the Orange Bowl. The most glaring loss from last season is all-everything Kenny Moore, officially classified as a receiver but also saw time at running back and ran approximately 824 successful reverses throughout his Demon Deacon career. The aforementioned Josh Adams is actually the top returning receiver in terms of catches (34), so that should tell you about the general uncertainty of the receiving corps heading into '08. The offensive line returns just two full-time starters, but that may be just as well since last year's OL produced the lowest rushing yards per game and yards per rush of the Grobe Era.

Defense: God help the clunky offenses of the ACC against this group in 2008. Nine starters return from last year's unit, highlighted by the entire linebacking corps and the entire secondary, headlined by CB Alphonso Smith - he of the eight picks in '07, three of which went the other way for TDs. Here's a scary stat....17 of the top 20 tacklers from 2007 are back, including nine of the top 10. The only question mark on what should otherwise be one of the top defenses in the nation is the pesky little change at defensive coordinator. Former DC Dean Hood left to take a 1-AA head coaching gig. The new DC is Brad Lambert, the Deacs' linebackers coach the last seven seasons.

Special Teams: Kicking and punting stalwart Sam Swank returns for his senior season, however return duties will be performed by some new faces in 2008, as punt returner Kenny Moore and KR Kevin Marion are now in the private sector. This unit should be in the upper-tier of the league if Swank regains his sophomore form from 2006, when he was voted the team's MVP.

Coaching: For five seasons (2003-2007), the Demon Deacons had one of the most stable coaching staffs in all of college football, with no changes among the three main positions, and very few changes among the rest of the staff. This season sees two new faces, with Brian Knorr brought in to coach receivers, and Steve Russ to handle tight ends. While that may be a bit rocky for this program, those changes in reality are small potatoes compared to what we've seen around the ACC in the last few years (six head coaching changes since 2006). Regardless, what Jim Grobe has built in Winston-Salem is one of the more remarkable coaching feats of the last 20 years and now that he's spurned bigger and richer suitors the last few seasons, Wake Forest looks to be a program that can hang year in and year out near the top of the league.

Odds & Ends: Of the Demon Deacons' 20 wins over the past two years, only two have been by more than 20 points - a 37-10 romp over UNC last season and the infamous 30-0 beatdown of Florida State in '06.....2007's Meineke Bowl bid marked the first time in school history that Wake earned back-to-back bowl invitations.....the Deacons have beaten Duke by just six total points the last two years (14-13 in 2006, 41-36 in 2007); Duke was 1-23 over those two seasons

Schedule Analysis: Wake is the only ACC program without a 1-AA opponent this season. The Deacs' have two interesting matchups in weeks one and two, facing two BCS-conference doormats in Baylor and Ole Miss, both of whom are breaking in new coaching staffs. The Deacons then get a bye week before travelling to Tallahassee and to the scene of their Seminole Massacre of 2006. The Noles will be in their last week of suspensions from last year's academic scandal and should be very beatable if the Deacons have everything humming along. The Deacs' next ACC contest is a Thursday nighter with Clemson, so by early October they have a chance to own the Atlantic Division or to sit squarely behind the 8-ball. Virginia and Duke are in the rotation from the Coastal Division and Wake plays them back-to-back, at home, in early November; that's as close to having a 14-day breather as any team can get that late in the year. All five road trips are winnable, but none are gimmes, with the trip to FSU looking to be the toughest. Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech are absent from this year's slate.
Projected Wins: @Baylor, Ole Miss, @Florida State, Navy, @Miami, Duke, Virginia, Vanderbilt
Projected Losses: none
Toss-Ups: Clemson, @Maryland, @N.C. State, Boston College

Primo Demon Deacon Blogs: Old Gold and Blog and that's the only one I know of

Heartwarming You-Tubery:

The one ACC bowl highlight from 2007

Preview Disclaimer


Zach Smith said...

Pretty good overview here. Two seasons ago Wake went undefeated on the road, and other than last season's trip to Clemson they looked good on the road again. If the Deacs can keep the trend going it could be a very special season for the Deacs.

Thanks for the link, Old Gold & Blog is indeed Wake's only blog. I must be doing something right.

Marcus said...

Thanks Zach. I think Wake really has a chance to pull another stunner and win the ACC again this year. My only concern is the Deacs' propensity to play to the level of their opponent. That's dangerous to do with as many interesting road games as they have this year (@Baylor-don't laugh, weird things can happen in week 1 especially with a new coach, @FSU, @Maryland, @Miami, @NCState). None of those games are killers, but none of them are cakewalks either.