Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Returning Starters: 16 (7 offense, 9 defense)
Key Losses: RB Micah Andrews, WR Kenny Moore, WR Kevin Marion, TE John
Tereshinski, TE Zac Selmon, C Steve Justice, OG Matt Brim, OT Louis Frazier, OG
Chris DeGeare, DT Zac Stukes, DE Jeremy Thompson, S Aaron Mason
Key Returnees: QB Riley Skinner, RB Josh Adams, FB Rich Belton, WR D.J.
Boldin, WR Chip Brinkman, OT Jeff Griffin, OG Barrett McMillan, OT Joe Birdsong,
DE Matt Robinson, DT Boo Robinson, LB Aaron Curry, LB Stanley Arnoux, LB Chantz
McClinic, CB Alphonso Smith, CB Brandon Ghee, S Kevin Patterson, S Chip Vaughn,
PK Sam Swank
Forest has won 20 games over the past two seasons, trailing only Virginia Tech
and Boston College in the ACC in total wins. The Demon Deacons return almost
their entire defense intact this year, and it was already a pretty good unit in
2007. They are picked to finish #2 in the ACC Atlantic Division.
The offense lost some playmakers like Kenny Moore and Kevin Marion, but they
return the efficient Riley Skinner at quarterback, and a running back in Josh
Adams who is poised to have a huge year.
This is probably Wake Forest’s most talented team under Jim Grobe. It is
without a doubt his most talented defensive team.
Wake Forest always seems to be a very balanced team offensively. They have a
good short passing game, and Skinner completed 72.4% of his passes, which led
the entire nation. He’ll be missing his best targets from last season, but Wake
has a good system and they should be able to find some players who can get open
and make catches.
In the backfield, the Demon Deacons have Josh Adams, who ran for 953 yards
last season as a r-freshman. He might be the highest touted recruit of the Jim
Grobe era. He was the #3 player in the state of North Carolina coming out of
high school. He and Riley Skinner should complement each other very well, and
keep opposing defenses off balance.
Wake’s offense isn’t likely to dominate anyone, but they run the clock well
and they are very efficient.
Wake Forest lost three of their top four receiving threats off last year’s
team. Wideouts Kenny Moore and Kevin Marion are gone, as is tight end John
Tereshinski. The third-leading receiver, Chip Brinkman, is back. However, he
averaged just 8.3 yards per catch last season.
So who exactly is going to make plays for Wake Forest this year? Who is going
to be the guy that is always open? Kenny Moore caught 98 passes for 1,011 yards
and five touchdowns. D.J. Boldin has potential to replace Moore’s production,
but Boldin only caught 11 passes last season. Wake’s biggest question mark on
offense are the wideouts, no question.
Demon Deacons return their entire back seven on defense. The entire 2-deep
returns at linebacker, and all four starters are back in the secondary, as well
as both backup cornerback. Wake Forest is very deep and talented at both
Wake has some major star power on their defense, led by linebacker Aaron
Curry and cornerback Alphonso Smith. Curry is arguably the best linebacker in
the ACC. He returned three interceptions for touchdowns last year, and led the
nation with 224 interception return yards. He also had 10.5 tackles for loss.
Smith is a top-notch corner who also returned three interceptions for
Curry and fellow senior linebacker Stanley Arnoux have been starting since
they were freshmen. Cornerback Brandon Ghee was recruited heavily by Virginia
Tech, and he broke up 10 passes last season. The starting safeties, Chip Vaughn
and Kevin Patterson, are experienced and talented. Patterson has been starting
since his r-freshman season.
Wake Forest doesn’t have proven depth on the defensive line. They lost
starting defensive end Jeremy Thompson, a very good player who was drafted by
the Green Bay Packers, as well as starting defensive tackle Zac Stukes. They
return Boo Robinson at defensive tackle, and he is very good.
Another returning starting defensive end is Matt Robinson. Robinson is now
two years removed from knee surgery, and is expected to return to his old form
this year. If he has a big season, it would be a big boost to the defensive
line. He had 16 tackles for loss in his first two seasons, then broke a knee cap
and missed 2006. He returned in 2007 and had just one tackle for loss.
Even if Robinson is back to full speed, depth will still be a question mark
up front. The starters should be solid, but how good will the backups be?
Will Stewart’s Take
I just went back over past media predictions, since the ACC went to
divisional play. Wake was picked last in the Atlantic in 2005 (they tied for
last), last in 2006 (they won the conference), fourth in 2007 (tied for second)
and now second in 2008.
Everyone finally realizes that Wake’s success under Jim Grobe is real and
sustainable. This is not a drill. The Deacs are 14-10 in three years of
divisional play and bring back a strong core of players. So what are their
prospects for 2008?
As always, check the schedule. The Deacs get FSU in game three, when the ‘Noles
will still have a passel of players suspended from last year’s academic cheating
scandal. The game’s in Tallahassee, though, and can Wake really beat even a down
FSU squad three times in a row?
Beyond that, Wake avoids Coastal favorites VT and UNC, and they get Clemson
and BC at home, including playing the Tigers on a Thursday night. If you’re the
type that doesn’t think Clemson can win their own division (never mind the
entire conference), then Wake is your candidate to make their second title game
appearance in three years.
That’s not necessarily good for the conference, from a ratings and hype
standpoint, but if the ‘Noles and Tigers don’t like it, then they need to do
something about it. Till then, don’t sleep on Wake Forest.