The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have experienced gridiron success over the past two seasons that are unrivaled in program history. With twenty victories over two seasons and a conference title, the future is bright for Jim Grobe’s bunch.
With these achievements, however, come new expectations. No longer is a 6-6 record and a trip to Boise or San Francisco enough to have a successful season.
This season provides another great opportunity for the Deacons to challenge for the ACC Title. The Deacons are a team already finding themselves in pre-season top 25 rankings that are coming out, and are considered by many to be one of the top three teams in the conference alongside Clemson and Virginia Tech.
The schedule is also favorable for the Deacons. The out-of-conference schedule is challenging (at Baylor, Ole Miss, Navy, and Vanderbilt), but the Deacons should be favored in all four.
Clemson and Boston College have to make the trek to Winston-Salem this season, with the former an ESPN Thursday night game, a scenario last season which saw Wake defeat Florida State.
The Deacons benefit from having many key pieces back from last year. Riley Skinner will be back for this third year of starting. The junior-to-be struggled with injuries early last season, but played well down the stretch.
Running back Josh Adams is back looking to improve upon a freshman year that saw him become the second Deacon in a row to win ACC Rookie of the Year. Joining him in the backfield is red-shirt freshman Brandon Pendergrass. The combination of the two in the backfield has Deacon fans salivating.
There will be holes at the receiver position and the offensive line. Kenny Moore has taken his game to the next level, and leaves behind a big hole. Moore set an ACC record for receptions in a season in 2007, and a young corps of receivers will have to combine their efforts to match it. Expect Demir Boldin and Chip Brinkman to start, with sophomore Jordan Williams to be a deep threat.
The defense is where the Deacons find their strength, however. With nine returning starters from a defense that not only was stingy, but scored eight touchdowns of their own, Wake should find themselves never blown out of a game.
Among the nine returning starters are cornerback Alphonso Smith and lineback Aaron Curry. The two had three interception returns for touchdowns each last season, and were both recently named to the Bronko Nagurski Watch List for 2008. Smith is one of the better corners in the country, and will find himself a 2009 NFL Draft pick.
Most importantly, Jim Grobe is back for another season as head coach. After flirting with the Arkansas job in December, Grobe decided he liked where he was. His recruiting philosophy has paid off, as each season the Deacs find themselves with stronger recruiting classes.
As composed, Wake Forest is a good enough team to win the conference. here is not a team on the schedule that they cannot beat, though at the same time, there are plenty of games where not bringing their best will send them to defeat.
I fully expect the Deacons to improve on their nine wins from last season and find themselves ranked for most, if not all, of the 2008 season.
With Grobe at the helm, Wake Forest will remain in the national spotlight, and I predict will win another conference title in the next five seasons. The college football world should get used to “Little Old Wake Forest” putting up some big results.