Thursday, August 26, 2010

Projecting Wake Forest: Even Grobe can't save the Deacs this year

Coach Jim Grobe put Wake Forest football on the map. While these are no longer the days of people painting “Wake zero” on I-40 signs, the Deacons record this year might not show it. Grobe gets the best out of his players but this year’s team is not as good as last year’s team which went just 5-7.

Without four-year starting QB Riley Skinner and without three excellent offensive linemen who graduated, the Deacons will struggle to score enough points to overcome an average-at-best defense which is thought to be soft up the middle. On offense, Cary’s Josh Adams will have a lot of chances to carry the ball as the Deacs focus more on the ground game and less on the passing game. A lot will rely on him.

Wake will be in a lot of games and can reach five wins but, again, the Deacs aren’t as good as last year’s team that won five. It will be a frustrating season but then again expectations are low. Only Virginia and possibly Maryland can rival the Deacons as the worst team in the conference this year. While all six of the home games are winnable, I’m picking Wake to win only two of them and to win only one on the road.

The Deacs hit a temporary bump in the road this year and finish at 3-9.

Here’s a game-by-game breakdown:

Sept. 2, Presbyterian: Against the Demon Deacons, Presbyterian doesn’t have a prayer.

Sept. 11, Duke: Wake has a couple of extra days to prepare for the Blue Devils and this should be a close one. But Wake is on the way down and Duke is on the way up. Devils by a field goal.

Sept. 18, at Stanford: Stanford is still fuming about losing a 14-point lead to Wake last year and about a controversial clipping call that negated a chance to take the lead. Stanford won’t let this one slip away at home. Stanford.

Sept. 25, at Florida State: Florida State is perhaps the best team in the ACC and Wake could be the worst or next to worst to Virginia. Easy win for the Seminoles.

Oct. 2, Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech should be beatable this year but they are still a bit better than Wake, even on the road. While the Deacons very well could win, the edge goes to Georgia Tech.

Oct. 9, Navy: We’ll see a lot of a good Navy team as the Midshipmen play three ACC teams and ECU. Wake Forest lost a heartbreaker in Annapolis last year and will want revenge. Both teams play the option so they each get a lot of practice against it. By now, the Deacs are adjusting to life without Skinner. Wake Forest gets a break or two and upsets Navy at home for the second victory of the season.

Oct. 16, at Virginia Tech: Again, the argument could be made that the Hokies are perhaps the best team in the ACC. Easy win for Virginia Tech.

Oct. 30, at Maryland: The Terrapins aren’t very good but they are at home and they should have enough to eek by Wake Forest. Terrapins by less than a touchdown.

Nov. 6, Boston College: Wake Forest really should have beaten BC in Chestnut Hill last year but fell in overtime. The Deacons are still stinging from this loss. Will Wake Forest let this one slip away at home? Sorry, but yes. It’s a good game but BC pulls it out again.

Nov. 13, at N.C. State: The Wolfpack better win this one or there might be another coaching search in Raleigh at the end of the season. State wins going away.

Nov. 20, Clemson: Clemson is only average this year and if the season has gone south for them, they could be demoralized and the Deacs could win in their last home game. As in other games, the Deacons will hang in there but come up short. Tigers hold on.

Nov. 27, at Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt’s program has had a lot of turmoil and is coming off a very poor season. Wake Forest should spill out a lot of built up frustration and whip the Commodores.

That makes the season prediction 3-9.

If Wake finds someone to take Skinner’s place adequately and the Deacs’ offensive line matures quickly, Wake Forest could match last year’s disappointing 5-7 record. That record wouldn’t be disappointing this year.

While I have a lot of faith in Grobe, I don’t have a lot of faith in his horses, who ride into the sunset with a 3-9 record.

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