Wake Forest Football Predictions
Jim Grobe always seems to get the most out of his teams. He certainly did last season. The Demon Deacons finished in a second place tie in the Atlantic division with a 5-3 record. They ended up 6-7 overall after losing to Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl.
A second straight bowl appearance and sixth overall under Grobe is a possibility, but it won’t be easy.
Wake Forest finished ninth in the ACC in total offense last season with 367.8 yards per game. It ranked eighth in the conference in scoring with 26.0 points per game. The running game was meager, but the passing attack was strong. The passing game should remain a strength with quarterback Tanner Price back.
Last season, Price completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 3,017 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Demon Deacons set a school record with only 12 turnovers in 2011 and Price’s decision-making was a big reason why. He enters the season having gone 173 attempts without getting picked off.
Losing Chris Givens to the NFL hurts, but Wake still has a good one in junior Michael Campanaro, who caught 73 passes for 833 yards and two scores last season. He is being counted on to be the go-to guy.
In order for the running game to come alive, the offensive line must be better. Unfortunately, only two players with experience return up front. Grobe will be counting on a couple converted defensive lineman and Dylan Heartsill, who has battled back problems, to shore up the unit.
Grobe is also expecting more out of running back Josh Harris, who only rushed for 432 yards and three touchdowns last year while battling a hamstring injury. Harris showed a lot of promise in 2010 when he gashed Virginia Tech for 241 yards.
The stop unit ranked 10th in the ACC in total defense in 2011 with 397.8 yards allowed per game. It finished ninth in the league in scoring defense with 27.4 points allowed per contest. With the majority of the unit, we should see Wake improve on these numbers.
The back seven is in good shape. The secondary is especially strong. Cornerbacks Kenny Okoro and Merrill Noel are All-ACC caliber performers. Noel is the team’s top returning tackler (66 stops) and interception guy (two picks).
Middle linebacker Mike Olson could supplant Scott Betros in the middle as the anchor of the linebacker corps. Joey Ehrmann, Riley Haynes and Justin Jackson figure to join him in the starting lineup. Also, watch out for rising star Zachary Allen.
Like the offense, the biggest area of concern is the line. Nikita Whitlock is the glue up front. Despite being undersized, he finished fifth in the ACC last season in tackles for loss. Ends Kris Redding and Zach Thompson are gifted but have yet to realize their potential. If they do so this season, the defense could be greatly improved.
ACC Atlantic Prediction: 4th Place
I believe the Demon Deacons will come up short of bowl eligibility this season. The defense should be improved, but the offense still has plenty of questions on the line and will miss Givens’ ability to stretch the field.
Two of last season’s wins came at home against Florida State and NC State. Wake gets both of those schools on the road this year, and I don’t see it coming away with wins in either.
I think Wake takes a small step back this year, but it will rise again soon enough. Grobe is bringing in a lot of talent.
|Boston College||Clemson||Florida State||Maryland|
|NC State||Syracuse||Wake Forest|
|Duke||Georgia Tech||Miami||North Carolina|
|ACC||Big 12||Big East||Big Ten|
|Conference USA||Independents||MAC||Mountain West|