The Wake Forest Demon Deacons 2013 College Football Preview
2012 Record: 5-7; ACC 3-5
Introduction: The Wake Forest Demon Deacons finished with a 5-7 record overall and a 3-5 record in ACC play in 2012. Head coach Jim Grobe is 73-74 in 12 seasons with the Demon Deacons. Of the 12 years he has been at Wake Forest, Grobe may have had his worst team in 2012. Wake Forest only scored more than 28 points once, while the defense allowed more than 425 yards seven times, including four of the last five games of the season. The special teams were terrible, as the Demon Deacons finished last in the ACC in kickoff returns, seventh in punt returns and last in field goals made and field-goal percentage. How did they win 5 games? By beating four bad teams and shocking a North Carolina team. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the Demon Deacons could play much better in 2013.
Offense: Wake Forest ranked 114th in the nation in scoring last season, mainly because of a horrible offensive line that was banged up all year. If starters Steven Chase and Antonio Ford can return to form quickly after being injured last year, the line should improve. The line will also have three talented redshirt freshmen, who will add depth to the unit. Wake Forest plans on becoming more of running team this year, moving away from their pass-heavy offense that has failed them recently. The new offense would take some pressure off QB Tanner Price, who is a senior with 34 starts and more than 6,600 passing yards. Price did not have too much time to throw last season and he has the ability to be a dual-threat quarterback, something he did in high school. WR Michael Campanaro will be a playmaker out of the slot, but Wake Forest needs other receivers to step up and produce this season. Running backs Josh Harris and Deandre Martin will be a nice pair out of the backfield for the Demon Deacons this season.
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Defense: Wake Forest had problems up front on defense last year and that created big problems in the secondary. Both units are more experienced and healthy coming into the 2013 season. NT Nikita Whitlock anchors an all-senior defensive line this year, while CB Merrill Noel and CB Kevin Johnson could be All-ACC corners when the year is over. The linebacker unit has a ton of speed to create pressure on the opposing quarterback, something Grobe wants out of his defense. LB Justin Jackson will lead the linebacker unit and could also be an All-ACC performer this season. Wake Forest has some talented young players at linebacker too, which will add much needed depth. The secondary has two solid corners, and two safeties in A.J. Marshall and James Ward who had not played the position before last year, so the experience should help them in 2013.
Special Teams: Redshirt freshman Chad Hedlund hit his only three field goals after taking the job late in 2012. Alex Kinal, a former Australian Rules kicker, got plenty of practice as he punted an ACC-record 95 times last year. The Demon Deacons return teams have not been great in recent years despite having speedy returners.
Final Analysis: Grobe and the Demon Deacons have not had a winning record since 2008 and they have also had too many distractions off the field in the meantime. Wake Forest will have 14 seniors playing significant roles this year, which will also help develop the young players coming up through the ranks. Wake Forest will go on the road to face Clemson, Miami, Syracuse, and Vanderbilt this year, while playing host to Florida State. The Demon Deacons have a chance of reaching a bowl game this season if they can establish the run on offense and create pressure up front on defense. If not, it will be another long season for the Demon Deacons.