2013 Wake Forest football's 10 things to know: Do the Deacs have the pieces to bounce back again?

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Injuries, youth, and a small margin for error conspired against Wake Forest in 2012. Can offensive tweaks and defensive health lead to another bounce back for Jim Grobe and his Demon Deacons? For more Wake, visit Blogger So Dear.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. "We don’t really know from year to year."

My first book, Study Hall: College Football, Its Stats and Its Stories, was released last week. I spoke to quite a few coaches for it, and Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe was a particularly enjoyable interview. I thought I would use some of Grobe's quotes throughout this piece.

Grobe on compiling the talent to compete in the ACC:

We just tried to take the personnel we had and tried to be a little bit different. Defensively, we really felt like we didn’t have the personnel to be in a 3-4, so we actually went to a 3-3 look and played 5 DBs. And that really helped us for a couple of years. It was totally different than what others had in our league. We went back to four-man front when we got some big guys.

Our thoughts at both places [Ohio and Wake Forest, the two programs for which he has been head coach] were to initially try our best to be a little unique.

We've really gotten to be a program that … we don’t really know from year to year. It’s hard at Wake Forest because of the academics. At a place like Wake Forest, you just go recruit the best players you can, and your schemes might change year to year. That’s not what you like to do, but it’s something you have to do.

Like Duke, Wake Forest is a pretty tough job. The academic standards are high, the fanbase isn't that big, and there is no proven history from which to pull when trying to sway recruits. Despite a series of pretty decent hires -- John Mackovic (1978-80) and Al Groh (1981-86) would go on to decent success elsewhere, Bill Dooley (1987-92) had won quite a few games at North Carolina and Virginia Tech before arriving in Winston-Salem, and Jim Caldwell (1993-00) went to a Super Bowl as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts (with help from a pretty good quarterback) -- Wake has very much struggled to maintain success.

The Demon Deacons reached 14th in the country and finished 8-4 in 1979 under Mackovic, then went 5-6 the next year. Dooley won 13 games in his first two years, then won eight in his next three. Dooley went 8-4 in his final season, then handed the reins to Caldwell, who went 9-37 in his first four seasons. He eventually patched together a 7-5 season in 1999, then went 2-9 in 2000 and was done.

Wake Forest had been to just five bowls when Grobe arrived in 2001 and hadn't been successfully strong since the 1940s. The odds were stacked against him, and with this backdrop, his accomplishments -- five bowl games, a 28-12 run from 2006-08, the 2006 ACC title, and the simple fact that a 5-7 season in 2012 was seen as relatively disappointing -- have secured his legacy. Whatever he accomplishes from here on out, he will leave Winston-Salem as one of Wake's greatest coaches.

But what does Wake have left under Grobe? The 2006-08 run was aided in part by the fact that traditional ACC powers like Florida State and Clemson didn't really have their act together; but the Demon Deacons still ranked between 28th and 45th in the F/+ rankings each year from 2006-09. They've ranked 103rd, 64th, and 107th, respectively, in the last three. They could rebound again, but is the ceiling still reasonably high, or is 60th and about six wins all they can hope for moving forward?

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 5-7 | Adj. Record: 2-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 107
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep Liberty 20-17 W 17.3 - 27.2 L
8-Sep North Carolina 28-27 W 37.9 - 21.1 W
15-Sep at Florida State 0-52 L 7.0 - 35.1 L
22-Sep Army 49-37 W 35.8 - 31.2 W
29-Sep Duke 27-34 L 20.3 - 30.4 L
6-Oct at Maryland 14-19 L 15.6 - 19.1 L
20-Oct at Virginia 16-10 W 14.5 - 17.7 L
25-Oct Clemson 13-42 L 16.7 - 28.9 L
3-Nov Boston College 28-14 W 23.5 - 30.9 L
10-Nov at N.C. State 6-37 L 6.7 - 29.0 L
17-Nov at Notre Dame 0-38 L 14.7 - 41.3 L
24-Nov Vanderbilt 21-55 L 22.7 - 39.3 L
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 18.5 116 31.8 92
Adj. Points Per Game 19.4 119 29.3 73

2. Nothing worked

Wake Forest lost two tight games in the middle of the season -- by seven points to Duke, by five points to Maryland; taking either game would have gotten the Demon Deacons to six wins. But that wouldn't have made them a good team. The offense played well exactly twice (against North Carolina and Army), and the defense (which definitely wasn't the primary issue in 2012) was still only significantly better than average three times. And both units got worse after September.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Opponent 28.7, Wake Forest 24.5 (minus-4.2)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 8 games): Opponent 29.6, Wake Forest 16.8 (minus-12.8)

Wake went from below average to bad, and a 3-1 start begat a 2-6 finish. The Deacs were pretty young across the board, and you can talk yourself into youth when it improves late in the year. Wake's young players really didn't. And as is usually the case, injuries didn't help.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 120 115 84 118
RUSHING 116 108 83 119
PASSING 93 107 77 112
Standard Downs 105 65 117
Passing Downs 116 107 116
Redzone 11 6 26
Q1 Rk 114 1st Down Rk 106
Q2 Rk 112 2nd Down Rk 115
Q3 Rk 68 3rd Down Rk 102
Q4 Rk 123

3. "We had to go to school and learn to throw the ball."

Grobe on tweaks to the offense:

Our recruiting each year is simply trying to find the best players we can find. Maybe that’s an option quarterback, maybe that’s a throwing quarterback. We were running the QB a lot, with a lot of option stuff, and we ended up with Riley Skinner, who doesn’t run but throws so well. We had to go to school and learn to throw the ball. With Tanner Price, we’ve been a throwing team.

The recruiting approach for Grobe and his staff is to find athletes and fit a system around them. In 2012, however, the offense really didn't have many awesome athletes. The Deacs were still reasonably efficient on standard downs, and they were downright awesome in the red zone, but they just weren't able to create many chances for themselves because of a complete and total lack of big play ability. It doesn't matter if you're running or passing; if you don't have the horses, you're going to struggle.

Is the outlook any rosier for 2013 in this regard? It's hard to say yes. Possession receiver extraordinaire Michael Campanaro does return; of the six receivers targeted at least three times in 2012, only Campanaro managed a catch rate of better than 57 percent, but he also only averaged 9.7 yards per catch. He averaged just 11.4 as the No. 2 receiver in 2011. He was great in an "extended handoffs" capacity, but he didn't help to stretch the field.

Meanwhile, Brandon Terry showed promise in this regard (19.3 yards per catch, four catches for 87 yards against North Carolina), but his catch rate was far too low for him to be effective. They're both back, as is sophomore Sherman Ragland III, but if there's hope for more big plays, it might have to come from a newcomer like redshirt freshman Jared Crump. From what we know about the players on the roster, big plays aren't necessarily forthcoming. And in the running game, senior Josh Harris, a solid big-play guy on the rare occasion that he got to the second level of a defense, was recently deemed ineligible for the season.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Tanner Price 6'2, 205 Sr. *** (5.6) 228 410 2,300 55.6% 12 7 25 5.7% 4.9
Patrick Thompson 6'2, 210 Jr. ** (5.3) 5 6 21 83.3% 0 0 0 0.0% 3.5
Brendan Cross


2 6 2 33.3% 0 0 0 0.0% 0.3
Kevin Sousa 6'3, 230 So. *** (5.7)






Tyler Cameron 6'3, 220 RSFr. *** (5.7)






Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Josh Harris RB


137 608 4.4 5.5 5 -5.9
Deandre Martin RB 6'2, 235 So. *** (5.6) 126 490 3.9 3.1 6 -15.4
Tanner Price QB 6'2, 205 Sr. *** (5.6) 52 147 2.8 4.2 0 -12.1
Michael Campanaro WR 5'11, 190 Sr. *** (5.7) 16 82 5.1 3.2 1 -0.7
Tyler Jackson RB 11 36 3.3 1.9 0 -1.8
Lovell Jackson FL 6 24 4.0 1.4 0 -0.4
Orville Reynolds RB 5'9, 185 Jr. *** (5.6) 5 -6 -1.2 N/A 0 -2.7
Dominique Gibson RB 5'10, 205 RSFr. *** (5.7)





Dezmond Wortham RB 6'0, 205 Fr. *** (5.6)





4. "We’re trying to get back to being more of a running team."

Now we don’t run the ball very well because we’ve gotten used to throwing. We’re really in transition now – we’re trying to get back to being more of a running team.

At Ohio, Grobe was able to craft quite a bit of offensive success through his use of the Wishbone. A former Air Force assistant under Fisher DeBerry, Grobe was certainly schooled in the option, but he wasn't married to it; he did it at Ohio because he was attempting to do something different, not because he felt it is the only way to move the ball.

As mentioned above, Wake has turned into more of a passing team through the years, thanks primarily to the weapons it has been able to recruit. But that changes in 2013. In an effort to shake things up and perhaps manufacture a few more big plays, Wake Forest is going back to the option and good chunks of the offense it was running pre-Riley Skinner.

It's in quarterback Tanner Price to have some success as a dual-threat guy. He was known as a dual-threat in high school, and he had a couple of high-carry games early in his freshman year (10 carries versus Duke, 16 versus Stanford) before he got rocked pretty hard against Florida State, and the staff went conservative with him. Without Harris, however, Wake will be leaning mostly on youngsters to test opponents' run defenses. Sophomore Deandre Martin got experience last year, but that's pretty much it.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Michael Campanaro FL 5'11, 190 Sr. *** (5.7) 107 79 763 73.8% 7.1 26.8% 58.9% 7.1 84.8
Terence Davis WR 76 43 544 56.6% 7.2 19.0% 64.5% 7.2 60.4
Sherman Ragland III WR 6'2, 195 So. *** (5.6) 52 23 247 44.2% 4.8 13.0% 51.9% 5.2 27.4
Brandon Terry WR 6'5, 205 Jr. *** (5.6) 37 15 290 40.5% 7.8 9.3% 62.2% 7.7 32.2
Tommy Bohanon FB 34 23 208 67.6% 6.1 8.5% 61.8% 6.2 23.1
Josh Harris RB


29 19 96 65.5% 3.3 7.3% 48.3% 3.3 10.7
Lovell Jackson FL 27 11 90 40.7% 3.3 6.8% 40.7% 3.7 10.0
Deandre Martin RB 6'2, 235 So. *** (5.6) 20 16 135 80.0% 6.8 5.0% 45.0% 5.3 15.0
Spencer Bishop TE 6'2, 240 Sr. NR 7 3 26 42.9% 3.7 1.8% 85.7% 2.6 2.9
Matt James WR 6'5, 220 Jr. *** (5.6) 3 1 3 33.3% 1.0 0.8% 0.0% 0.4 0.3
Tanner Price QB 6'2, 205 Sr. *** (5.6) 2 2 13 100.0% 6.5 0.5% 50.0% 6.6 1.4
Tyler Jackson RB 2 1 1 50.0% 0.5 0.5% 0.0% 0.2 0.1
Orville Reynolds RB 5'9, 185 Jr. *** (5.6) 2 2 -4 100.0% -2.0 0.5% 50.0% -1.8 -0.4
Jared Crump WR 6'3, 190 RSFr. *** (5.6)








Zach Gordon TE 6'5, 245 RSFr. *** (5.6)








Brendan O'Neil TE 6'4, 220 Fr. *** (5.6)








Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 83.9 2.37 2.78 32.4% 56.1% 26.1% 87.2 4.7% 8.2%
Rank 112 119 99 118 114 119 78 62 90
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Garrick Williams C 27 career starts
Frank Souza RG 6'4, 310 Sr. *** (5.6) 14 career starts
Colin Summers RT 6'5, 315 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 career starts
Whit Barnes C 6'4, 300 Sr. *** (5.5) 11 career starts
Antonio Ford LT 6'4, 310 Jr. *** (5.6) 6 career starts
Dylan Intemann LT 6'5, 310 So. NR 4 career starts
Steven Chase OT 6'6, 315 Sr. ** (4.9) 3 career starts
Gabe Irby LG 1 career start
Devin Bolling OT 1 career start
Hunter Goodwin LT 6'6, 300 So. *** (5.5)
Cody Preble C 6'5, 280 So. *** (5.7)
Tyler Hayworth LG 6'4, 310 RSFr. *** (5.5)
Will Smith RT 6'5, 300 RSFr. *** (5.5)
Joel Suggs OT 6'6, 300 RSFr. ** (5.3)
Josh Harris OG 6'4, 290 Fr. *** (5.6)
Cory Helms C 6'4, 290 Fr. *** (5.6)

5. You need five healthy linemen

It's a good sign that Grobe is still willing to tinker and make changes in a hungry search to move the ball. His misdirection running game indeed had a decent amount of success early in his Wake tenure, and it was certainly time for a change. But the change will only matter if the line can both stay healthy and improve. Between injuries and youth, the line fell apart in 2012, especially in terms of run blocking. It couldn't create chances for its backs, it couldn't keep defenders out of the backfield, and it couldn't convert in short-yardage situations. That's three strikes.

In 2013, six players with starting experience do return (50 career starts). That's certainly a good thing. The line is big and experienced. But how much can a line improve in one year, especially when a bit of a system change is involved?

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 91 79 75 81
RUSHING 70 66 78 56
PASSING 103 82 70 88
Standard Downs 67 56 77
Passing Downs 96 101 93
Redzone 79 87 68
Q1 Rk 77 1st Down Rk 71
Q2 Rk 88 2nd Down Rk 42
Q3 Rk 35 3rd Down Rk 88
Q4 Rk 36

6. The defense was not the problem

The 2012 Wake defense certainly wasn't very good, but it wasn't that bad either. The Deacs were reasonably efficient on standard downs, and a light but active line was able to make quite a few plays in the backfield. But even if the defense could leverage opponents into passing downs, the back seven wasn't able to make enough stops. Injuries were a hindrance -- each of the top three linemen all missed time, as did three of the top six defensive backs -- and the unit certainly regressed as the season went on. If the D can stay healthy, and if it can at least get some sort of help from the O, then there is enough experience here to at least shoot for a top-50 or -60 Def. F/+ ranking.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 105.5 2.83 2.65 36.0% 68.5% 22.6% 94.1 6.4% 4.2%
Rank 38 49 19 33 70 22 73 18 103
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Zach Thompson DE 6'5, 265 Sr. *** (5.5) 11 39.5 5.6% 5.5 4 1 0 1 1
Nikita Whitlock NG 5'11, 250 Sr. ** 10 39.0 5.5% 5.5 3 0 0 0 0
Kris Redding DE 6'4, 275 Sr. ** (5.2) 11 22.0 3.1% 5.5 3.5 0 4 2 1
Hasan Hazime DE 12 21.5 3.0% 7 2.5 0 2 2 2
Tylor Harris NG 6'4, 285 So. ** (5.4) 12 19.0 2.7% 4.5 1.5 0 0 2 1
Desmond Floyd DE 6'5, 255 So. *** (5.6) 5 4.0 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Johnny Garcia DE 6'4, 260 Jr. ** (5.4) 12 1.5 0.2% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Shelldon Lewinson NG 6'2, 245 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Josh Banks DE 6'4, 250 RSFr. ** (5.4)
James Looney DE 6'3, 275 Fr. *** (5.6)






7. A funky, effective line

Wake's nose guard, Nikita Whitlock, is smaller than most opponents' defensive ends. But in three years, he has racked up 30 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. He was dinged up last year, plus he got a bit more attention from opposing defenses, but he is a unique weapon, and Wake has shown that it knows how to use him at times.

Despite Whitlock's limited play, and despite the lack of health and depth around him, the line mostly did its job in 2012. Five different players logged at least 4.5 tackles for loss, and the Deacs were strong in both the Stuff Rate (making negative plays against the run) and Opportunity Rate (allowing runners to the second level, basically) categories. Not surprisingly, a lack of size contributed to short-yardage issues, but if you make enough plays, you can get away with that. There's a lot of experience here, and there's no reason to think the line stats will slip much. But the line will still need more help than it got last year.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Justin Jackson ROB 6'1, 230 Sr. *** (5.6) 12 60.5 8.5% 8.5 4 0 2 0 1
Mike Olson MLB 6'3, 230 Sr. ** (4.9) 11 58.5 8.2% 3.5 1 1 2 0 0
Riley Haynes WLB 12 46.5 6.5% 3.5 1 1 0 0 0
Joey Ehrmann LOU 12 43.0 6.0% 10.5 3.5 0 0 2 0
Zachary Allen ROB 6'2, 240 Jr. *** (5.7) 12 33.0 4.6% 1.5 0 0 0 1 0
Scott Betros WLB 11 21.5 3.0% 2.5 0 0 1 1 0
Brandon Chubb MLB 6'1, 240 So. ** (5.3) 12 18.0 2.5% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Derricus Ellis LOU 12 7.5 1.1% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Britt Cherry ILB 6'1, 225 RSFr. NR 6 0.5 0.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Josh Donatell OLB 6'6, 225 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Kevis Jones OLB 6'2, 230 RSFr. *** (5.5)
Lance Virgile LB 6'2, 220 Fr. *** (5.6)






Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
A.J. Marshall FS 6'0, 195 Sr. **** (5.8) 12 58.5 8.2% 3 0 2 4 1 0
Kevin Johnson CB 6'1, 175 Jr. ** (5.3) 12 46.0 6.5% 3.5 0.5 3 15 2 1
Chibuikem Okoro SS 12 44.5 6.3% 3 0 2 5 0 1
Daniel Mack SS 10 36.5 5.1% 0.5 0 0 1 0 1
Merrill Noel CB 5'10, 180 Jr. *** (5.6) 9 28.5 4.0% 1.5 0.5 0 3 0 0
Duran Lowe SS 6'0, 215 Sr. *** (5.5) 6 22.0 3.1% 1 0 0 0 0 1
James Ward SS 5'10, 170 So. *** (5.5) 12 16.0 2.3% 1 0 0 1 0 0
Allen Ramsey II CB 6'0, 190 So. *** (5.7) 10 8.0 1.1% 1 0 1 0 0 1
Chuck Schlegel FS 6'0, 175 Jr. NR 11 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Janvion SS 5'11, 190 RSFr. *** (5.5)

Michael Stevenson SS 6'0, 175 Fr. *** (5.6)






8. A decent secondary on paper

In 2011, then-freshman Merrill "Bud" Noel defensed 21 passes. In 2012, with Noel fighting injuries, then-sophomore Kevin Johnson recorded 18. In theory, this could be one hell of an active duo of cornerbacks if healthy. Throw in a former star recruit in A.J. Marshall and some youngsters with potential -- James Ward, Allen Ramsey and Ryan Janvion all drew some praise this spring -- and you can see a relatively impressive, aggressive defensive backfield coming together. But as with the offensive line, how much improvement can we expect to see in a single offseason? How much of last year's struggles (and there were certainly struggles) due simply to injury?

And how much will a solid secondary matter if the linebackers don't step up? Wake Forest's defense fell apart in blitzing opportunities, and the linebackers barely made any plays whatsoever against the pass. Players like Justin Jackson have showed potential, and the unit as a whole was pretty decent at flowing to the ball against the run, but it was perhaps the weakest unit on the defense last year, and it is the thinnest heading into the fall.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Alexander Kinal 6'4, 210 So. 95 40.7 5 28 28 58.9%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Jimmy Newman 46 61.8 25 54.3%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Jimmy Newman 17-17 1-1 100.0% 1-5 20.0%
Chad Hedlund 6'1, 185 So. 10-11 2-2 100.0% 1-1 100.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Orville Reynolds KR 5'9, 185 Jr. 11 14.7 0
Deandre Martin KR 6'2, 235 So. 10 17.7 0
Lovell Jackson KR 7 19.6 0
Lovell Jackson PR 10 12.8 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 117
Net Punting 101
Net Kickoffs 18
Touchback Pct 14
Field Goal Pct 113
Kick Returns Avg 124
Punt Returns Avg 48

9. Don't stink at special teams

Underdog Tactics 101 tells you that you can't afford to give points away on special teams. Wake had a hell of a kickoffs weapon in Jimmy Newman and a solid punt returner in Lovell Jackson, but that was pretty much it in 2012. Kick returns were dreadful, punting was below average, and Newman wasn't as good a place-kicker as he was a kickoffs guy. Now Newman and Jackson are both gone. Wake needs to do its offense and defense as many field position favors as possible; can it?

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
29-Aug Presyterian NR
6-Sep at Boston College 69
14-Sep UL-Monroe 78
21-Sep at Army 105
28-Sep at Clemson 20
5-Oct N.C. State 61
19-Oct Maryland 83
26-Oct at Miami 25
2-Nov at Syracuse 54
9-Nov Florida State 19
23-Nov Duke 88
30-Nov at Vanderbilt 51
Five-Year F/+ Rk 67
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 64
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* +8 / +4.9
TO Luck/Game +1.3
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 16 (8, 8)
Yds/Pt Margin** +2.7

10. "It’s a cat-and-mouse game. It probably boils down to how good your players are."

Grobe on stats and preparation:

We’re not any different than anybody else. We look at every stat known to man. Break down game film ad nauseum. We know what you’re doing on downs, field zones, hashes. Just about every situation you can possibly imagine, we’ve got it on a stat somewhere. But how do you manage all of those stats? How do you pull it together in a gameplan that makes sense?

We’ve got what you do down to a science, but you know we’ve got it. It’s a cat-and-mouse game. It probably boils down to how good your players are.

Again, Jim Grobe's legacy is set. He and his staff have proven flexible, resourceful, and adaptable through the years, and they have proven that they can hold their own in the "cat-and-mouse game." They make major shifts in strategy based on the talent they've got on hand, and they're even willing to change longstanding policies like their approach to redshirting. They pass the Underdog Tactics 101 course with flying colors, to the point where I dedicated a good portion of my "Beating, and Becoming, Goliath" chapter to Grobe's work at Ohio and Wake.

But you still need talent. Does Wake have enough? On paper, there does appear to be more talent here than what the Deacs showed last year. Tanner Price could thrive when given a few more opportunities to run. Michael Campanaro is a lovely "seven yards on second-and-7" guy. Nikita Whitlock is unique and, when healthy, dominant at times. Whitlock has play-making help on the line. And the secondary is full of aggressive, interesting players.

Wake Forest fell apart in 2010 and bounced back with an experienced squad in 2011. It could certainly do the same, and if the Deacs can get back to a top-60 level or so, there are certainly wins to be found. Only one home game is unwinnable (Florida State), and trips to Boston College, Army, Syracuse, and even Vanderbilt aren't incredibly intimidating. But it's up to Grobe and his staff to prove that they can continue to make interesting moves and tweaks. And it's up to Price, Whitlock and company to prove that they have the talent to take advantage when the cat-and-mouse game turns in their favor. I'm not completely buying it, but I'm intrigued.

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