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Don’t Count Out Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe in 2013

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Sam Sharpe- USA TODAY Sports

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.

 

Jack is a College Football Contributor for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twittter @FSUYankee14

 

 

 

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Rant Sports College Football Rankings: No. 99 Wake Forest Demon Deacons





Coming off another disappointing season, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons showed head coach Jim Grobe the door and replaced him with Dave Clawson, who has built a reputation as a program-fixer of sorts with successful remodeling jobs for the Fordham Rams and Richmond Spiders.

Clawson has arrived with mandate to rebuild with a new philosophy, scheme and personnel, including a new 4-2-5 defense and a balanced offense capable of adapting based on the unit’s strengths. With much turnover anticipated, let’s examine how the Demon Deacons will look in 2014.

Offense

Unfortunately for Clawson, he didn’t inherit much proven talent on offense. The majority of that unit is no longer in uniform, as the Deacs will replace their leading passer, two leading receivers, top two rushers and two starting offensive lineman. The good news? Those players led the team to a 14th-place finish in the conference in total offense, 13th in scoring, 13th in rushing and 11th in passing.

Clawson’s teams have always been balanced, but finding production from either the passing or running game will be a huge task. The quarterback competition is remain unresolved, as last year’s backup Tyler Cameron failed to secure the job with inconsistency in spring practices and an uninspiring spring game.

Behind him, experience is lacking, as his only competition will be junior Kevin Sousa, who was a WR last season, and incoming freshmen Travis Smith and John Wolford. The job is Cameron’s to lose, but don’t be surprised if he does before the season starts.

The running game is similarly in flux as senior Orville Reynolds appears to be the leader, though he also spent last season primarily at WR. Sophomore Dominique Gibson will be the short-yardage back, though that’s likely all he will offer. Behind him, two freshman backs and a converted safety will push for playing time.

The Deacons will also be looking for some underclassmen to step up as reliable options at receiver, where Wake Forest lost about half of its 2013 receiving yards and receptions, and over 60 percent of its touchdown grabs. Sophomores Tyree Harris and Jared Crump and Virginia transfer E.J. Scott appear to be the best candidates, with Zach Gordon filling in at TE.

The O-line will also be young inside, but LG Ty Hayworth and C Cory Helms started most of last season, and RG Josh Harris also saw considerable time as a backup. The tackle positions could go a variety of ways depending on whether Cameron is under center.

Defense

The Demon Deacons’ switch from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5 zone-based defense won’t be seamless, with a lack of depth and experience on the line being the biggest issues. A couple of linebackers have been moved up to help, with Zachary Allen grabbing a starting spot at DE. Desmond Floyd has the potential to fill in nicely as the other end, and nose tackle Johnny Garcia should be reliable.

Marquel Lee looks like a great fit for the 4-2-5 and plays well in both run support and coverage. Brandon Chubb returns with 87 tackles, but Teddy Matthews impressed in the spring and could also see the field.

The secondary should be the team’s bright spot in 2014, as corners Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel will be a terrific tandem yet again. Last season, the duo combined for 111 tackles and six interceptions. Hunter Williams will play the hybrid-linebacker spot, while Ryan Janvion and Anthony Wooding Jr. hold down the strong and free safety spots.

Sophomore safety Thomas Brown was a standout in the spring game and should also be in the mix.

Schedule

With a road game against Utah State serving as the only potential road block, a 4-0 start is entirely possible for Wake Forest with a road opener against Louisiana-Monroe and home games against Gardner-Webb and Army all serving as winnable non-conference games.

From there, however, the Demon Deacons will get a brutal reminder of the ACC pecking order with away games against Louisville and Florida State. The next three games (Syracuse, Boston College and Clemson) will be at home, but the Deacs will likely be underdogs.

In-state road trips to take on North Carolina State and Duke will sandwich a home game against Virginia Tech — none of which provide a guaranteed victory needed to boost the Deacons’ bowl game chances. A 6-6 finish might not require a miracle, but it looks to be as good as it can get for the Deacs in 2014.

Michael Briggs is a College Football Writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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Florida State Seminoles Football: Defense Dismantles Wake Forest





The Florida State Seminoles‘ offense has received a majority of the attention from the media this year, but it might be their defense that wins them a national championship.

On Saturday, the Noles defensive unit was stifling as they shut down an injury-riddled Wake Forest offense during a 59-3 route.

From the outset, it was obvious that Wake Forest was outclassed, and in some serious trouble. For the game, the Demon Deacons managed just 166 yards of total offense, converted 5-of-17 third-down chances, and turned the ball over seven times.

Yes, seven times.

Six of those turnovers were interceptions, including one that was returned 56 yards for a touchdown by Nate Andrews. The true freshman wasn’t done for the day, as he later made another diving interception in Wake Forest territory. Andrews wasn’t a highly-coveted prospect coming out of high school, but he’s been tremendous at the start of his college career.

Converted defensive end Christian Jones was outstanding on the day, and was in the middle of two turnovers, as well. On the first, he got pressure from the outside and hit Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price just as he released the ball. The ball popped up into the air and was intercepted by fellow defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. deep in Wake territory.

Later, Jones was able to intercept a pass of his own after defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel batted it into the air.

The Demon Deacons tried three different quarterbacks, but none of them were effective. Price had one of the worst stat lines you’ll ever see, going 1-for-4 for three yards with three interceptions.

The Florida State defense scored again when true freshman safety Jalen Ramsey scooped and scored a play after Andrews’ interception return for a touchdown.

Admittedly, Wake Forest is not an offensive juggernaut, but Florida State had a defensive performance that looked like a team that could win the national championship.

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