It used to be unthinkable that a Wake Forest Demon Deacons head football coach could be on the “hot seat”, but that may very well be where current head man Jim Grobe resides. Ten years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to get a definitive answer out of anyone as to whom the Wake Forest football coach actually was. And, that probably included Wake Forest students and faculty.
Jim Grobe changed that perception. He changed the perception of the Wake Forest football program entirely. Taking the Demon Deacons from laughing stock to contender was something that no one believed could ever be done. But, our friend Jimmy did just that. Not only did he do it, he stamped an exclamation point on it in 2006, dropping everyone’s jaw when he and his team took the ACC Title and waltzed their way to the Orange Bowl after an 11-2 campaign.
Lately though, the program has regressed back to their old ways, leading some to believe that Grobe may have over-stayed his welcome now. Those people, need to calm down.
Although losing that Orange Bowl to the Louisville Cardinals, the Demon Deacons followed up in 2007 and 2008 with victories in the Meineke Car Care and Eaglebank bowls respectively. It seemed that, while not a consistent BCS contender, Wake Forest had at least developed some model of on the field consistency. Then, the wheels fell off.
Wake Forest has not had a winning season since 2008. Hitting rock bottom in 2010 with a 3-7 season, it seemed like all hope was lost. In 2011, they stumbled their way to a 6-6 record and an appearance in the Music City Bowl.
However, sandwiched in that 2011 record was a 35-30 victory against the Florida State Seminoles and a close 31-28 loss to the eventual ACC Champion Clemson Tigers. This showed that, while they were a far cry from that 2006 team, the pieces were still there for Wake Forest to do something special eventually.
2013 is indeed a crucial year for Grobe and his troops, that much is correct. They finished 2012 at 5-7, with some punishing losses in there, most notably Florida State and Clemson exacting some revenge by blowing them off the field. But, Grobe is about developing, and that’s exactly the chance he’s getting this year.
The Demon Deacons return 16 starters from that squad last year. Most notably, senior QB Tanner Price is the one that needs to step up the most and light a fire under this team. After what appeared to be a fast start to his career, Price fizzled a little bit, more than likely due to shaky offensive line play. No matter the circumstances though, Price needs to take charge this year and impress.
On the defensive side of the ball, Wake needs to emphasize more of what they did right last year, and that’s sacks and turnovers. While not the most impressive secondary in the country last year against the air attacks by any means, increased pressure can help mask this issue.
Bottom line is that Grobe should not have as much pressure on his shoulders as some would like to put on him. The man is a terrific football coach who can make the adjustments where needed. And, that is what I fully expect him to do this spring, He has the talent on the roster to make his team noticeable to the nation once again. Putting the pieces all together is the key, and, if anyone can do that, Jim Grobe can.