2013 ACC Previews: Wake Forest
By Eric Russell
As the college football season draws closer it is time to take a look at each team in the ACC and their outlook for 2013. We will look at what to expect from your favorite team and what it will take for 2013 to be a success. We will follow the predicted finishing order released during ACC media day, alternating between the Coastal and Atlantic Division. Next up is Wake Forest.
Head Coach: Jim Grobe (13th season)
Last Season: Wake Forest started out strong last year with back-to-back wins, including a victory over ACC opponent North Carolina. Then the Demon Deacons entered a downward spiral, losing seven of 10 to finish the season 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the conference.
Key Losses: The team didn't suffer many losses on either side of the ball. It lost its No. 2 receiver in Terence Davis. Safety Chibuikem Okoro and linebacker Riley Haynes are gone on the defensive side of the ball.
What To Expect On Offense: Quarterback Tanner Price is one of eight starters returning on the offensive side. He finished last season with 2,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. His favorite target Michael Campanaro also is back. Another season together for the two gives the Wake Forest offense a chance to live up to the potential some fans expected to see from the team last season. A healthy offensive line is an added bonus for the offense.
What To Expect On Defense: The defense had their fair share of struggles in the 2012 season. This year, senior Nikita Whitlock will anchor the defense up front. In the secondary, the Demon Deacons get AJ Marshall back as well. Marshall and the secondary will be under the direction of yet another defensive backs coach, their fifth in as many seasons. Derrick Jackson mans the position and hopes to get the secondary out of the bottom half of the ACC in terms of passing defense.
Breakout Stars: Campanaro has all the tools to be a 1,000-yard receiver. He was Price's favorite target last season, as he caught 79 passes for 763 yards and six touchdowns. This season looks to be another stellar campaign for the wideout. Another key player will be Josh Harris, Wake Forest's leading rusher for the past two seasons. Harris almost missed out to the 2013 season when he was declared ineligible this offseason before receiving a waiver by the NCAA to allow him to play. Wake Forest will benefit from his presence in the backfield.
Big Games: The team has a good chance to open up the year strong. It's not far-fetched to believe Wake Forest can start the season 4-0. Their first four opponents are Presbyterian, Boston College, Louisiana Monroe and Army. From that point it may be difficult for them to find wins. Clemson will welcome them in their fifth game and then the Demon Deacons will take on N.C. State. Wake Forest gets Miami on the road to close out October and Florida State at home in early November.
Outlook: There's not much that points to a major turnaround for Wake Forest this year. The biggest thing they have going for them is experience with 16 returning starters. However, that experience is from a team that was inconsistent for a good part of last season. Their ACC schedule also doesn't help their case.
Predicted Record: 4-8 (2-6 ACC)