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Wake Forest Has Taken A Step Back


Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

One could make the argument that no one has done more with less than Jim Grobe has at Wake Forest.  Grobe does not have the facilities or the passionate alumni that other big time programs have in the ACC and around the country.  He also has to deal with higher academic standards for student athletes in Winston-Salem.  Wake Forest is a small private school that does not have a lot of football tradition, but Grobe brought them to national prominence not too long ago.  When Riley Skinner was the quarterback at Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons were always a tough out.  In 2006 Wake won the ACC and even shut out Florida State 30-0 in Doak Campbell Stadium at night.  From the years 2006-2008 Wake Forest yielded a record of 28-12 and of course that ACC Championship in 2006.

However, things have changed for Wake in the past five years seeing as they have not finished with a winning record since the 2008 season.  Since the start of the 2009 season the Deacs have sported a disappointing 19-30 record and have seen the talent level drop-off significantly.  Grobe is no longer getting the players that he needs in order to compete in the ACC.  This season has already gotten of to a nightmarish start for his squad as they currently sit with a 1-2 record and play an Army team this weekend that put up a good fight against Stanford this past weekend.  Perhaps the most disappointing piece about Wake is that they just lost to Louisiana-Monroe 21-19.  Their defense gave up 424 yards of total offense and allowed ULM to convert 15-of-28 on third-downs.  But what might be even more embarrassing than that is the fact that Wake only rushed for a total of 15 yards in that game.

This clearly is not the same Wake Forest team that was so competitive four years ago.  The only player on this team with any talent worth mentioning is Michael Campanaro who hauled in 16 catches for 177 yards in that loss to ULM.  I do not like to hear that Wake Forest is a basketball school, because they have not been much of that either lately.  This weekend they play Army, who had a respectable 34-20 loss against Stanford last week and showed that they are going to compete no matter who they are playing against.  Like always, Army tries to pound the ball on the ground for their offensive strategy, and this Wake Forest team has given up big rushing numbers this season already to Boston College.

It does not get any easier for Wake Forest with the toughest part of their schedule yet to come.  They still have to play No. 3 Clemson, No. 16 Miami, and No. 8 Florida State.  With two losses in its first three games, Grobe needs to right the ship in a hurry or else he is going to see his team sport another losing record by the time this season comes to a close.  I still believe Jim Grobe is a great coach, but sometimes you just run out of time at one place and change might be needed.  With a loss to Army, the Demon Deacons would fall to 1-3 going into Death Valley to play Clemson, and that would almost certainly be another loss.

A team that looked like it was one the rise after the 2006-2008 seasons has fallen back to the bottom of the barrel in the ACC.  The improvements are no longer there and the program has taken a major step back.  This is a big weekend for Wake Forest, its fans, and especially Jim Grobe.  Wake needs a win this weekend or it can almost certainly expect yet another losing season.

Travis Patterson, Writer for the ACC on  Follow on Twitter @tpat20.

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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.


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.


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.


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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