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#50 Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview
Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it, so that means you’ll be getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing your teams now will save you time in August, and Met Fargo is here to help. to understand what you can expect this year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 college football preview.
#50 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons 4-7 SU; 5-6 ATS
Fargo’s Take Underachieving is becoming the norm at Wake Forest as some great talent has come and gone over the past three seasons without making the postseason. Jim Grobe is in his 6th season as head coach and after leading the Deacons to two winning seasons in his first two years, expectations were high. Three straight losing seasons have deterred some of those prospects, but this is arguably the best team Wake Forest has ever had. He needs the quarterback to step up and the defense to become more aggressive to start winning some close games. Over the last three seasons, 11 losses have been by eight points or less, so getting over that hump is a good start. The Deacons return the most starters of anyone in the ACC, so if there’s ever a year for Wake Forest to rise in the upper ranks of the conference, this is the year. The big question is whether they can really play with the big boys. We’ll find out soon enough.
Returning starters on offense – 8 Last season was the first since 2000 that the Deacons didn’t rush for over 200 ipg, but they still finished 28th with 197.6 ipg, a very respectable number. The loss of Chris Barclay looks devastating for the game, but he won’t be pulling back much, if at all. Micah Andrews takes over at tailback and if his performance against Vanderbilt is any indication, as he rushed for 254 yards, he’s another star in the making. The offensive line is above average with four starting backs, so it’s important to get some production through the air to provide balance. That falls to junior Ben Mauck, who started last season but was benched after four games. He obviously needs to improve and what could help is the fact that the top three receivers are back as well as the starting tight end.
Returning starters on defense – 10 Wake Forest wasn’t terrible on defense last season, but it was bad enough to miss some close games. The Deacons were 92nd in the nation and last in the ACC in passing defense a season ago, but that should change. All four starters return, including two possible All-ACC starting safeties and one of the top corners in the country in Alphonso Smith. Stopping the run was a strength last season, and replacing the interior on the defensive line is a priority. Like generating some sort of pass rush since Wake Forest only had 15 sacks last season. Overall, 13 of the Deacons’ top 14 players are back this season and if the defense doesn’t show improvement in 2006, it probably never will.
Schedule The schedule is well set up for a quick start but a very difficult finish. Wake Forest has a chance to start the year 5-0 if it can win swing games in Connecticut and Mississippi. The three home games during that early stretch are against Syracuse, Duke and Liberty, all solid wins. The ACC schedule then begins in full with a tough home game against Clemson followed by back-to-back games at NC State and North Carolina. The final four games are tough with home contests against Boston College and Virginia Tech and away games at Florida St. and Maryland. Miami and Georgia Tech did not make the schedule. The Deacons will have to somehow pull off two upsets to become bowl eligible.
You can bet… With the most starting experience of any team in the conference returning, Grobe will likely have to return to the bowl to keep his job. Another losing season will not be tolerated in the Deacons who have flirted with a big move after their first two years. In the first two games of the season, Wake Forest will have points and that is not good. The Deacons are just 1-9 ATS as a home favorite over the past two seasons, including 0-5 against the number over the past two campaigns. They’re also just 3-9-1 ATS in non-conference games over the last four years, which makes the Connecticut and Mississippi games even tougher. The overshoot is necessary for Wake Forest because there is little margin for error in 2006.
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