2009 Wake Forest Demon Deacons Football Preview
2008 Record: (8-5, 4-4)
2008 Bowl: EagleBank Bowl vs. Navy (W 29-19)
Offensive Coordinator: Steed Lobotzke
Defensive Coordinator: Brad Lambert
Returning Leaders for Wake Forest:
Other Key Returnees: RB Josh Adams, OT Joe Birdsong, OT Jeff Griffin, G Barrett McMillin, DT John Russell, DE Kyle Wilber, TE Ben Wooster
Key Losses: LB Stanley Arnoux, WR D.J. Boldin, WR Chip Brinkman, LB Aaron Curry, LB Chantz McClinic, S Kevin Patterson, DE Matt Robinson, CB Alphonso Smith, K Sam Swank, S Chip Vaughn
Under Coach Jim Grobe Wake Forest has gone from a continual cellar dweller to a legitimate contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The 2008 season was not their best, ending with a 4-4 conference mark, but this is still a team headed in the right direction. However, that direction may take a little turn for the worse this year as the team must replace a large majority of their defense.
Wake Forest 's Strengths:
While the defense retools, it will be up to the offense to win games. Quarterback Riley Skinner is back, yet again, and has proven to be one of the most accurate passers in college football. Last year he completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 2,347 yards and 13 touchdowns. With Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Adams joining him in the backfield, the Demon Deacons have a slew of offensive weapons. Adams should regain his starting role after spending much of the 2008 season on the sidelines dealing with injuries. In 2007, Adams had a superb freshman campaign and Wake Forest hopes he can build off of that and get past the injuries. Pendergrass filled in nicely while Adams was out and ended up leading the team with 528 rushing yards. On paper the absence of wide receivers D.J. Boldin and Chip Brinkman is a concern, but Marshall Williams is an experienced receiver and redshirt freshmen Terence Davis and Chris Givens could give the team a much needed deep threat.
Wake Forest 's Weaknesses:
Some of the losses on the defensive side of the ball are some of the best players to ever suit up for the Deacons. Linebacker Aaron Curry was the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft and cornerback Alphonso Smith was a second round selection after tallying seven interceptions during his senior season. Stanley Arnoux and Chip Vaughn were also drafted in the first four rounds. Curry is the biggest loss, but the secondary is where the biggest questions remain. Corner Brandon Ghee will be the new Smith, but after that there is very little experience and a lot of question marks. Coach Grobe will figure out which combination of players works best for his team, but there is little chance that the pass defense will be anywhere near as good as they were last year.
The Bottom Line for the Demon Deacons:
Since Coach Grobe is bringing in more talent than Wake Forest is used to, the defense will be alright. The big question is how much better can the offense be this year? The answer to that question will depend on the play of the offensive line. Everybody is back and that experience has to count for something. The fact that they cannot be much worse than last year is a positive as well. If the group can grow up quickly and come together, it will be the offense, not the defense, that propels Wake Forest into another bowl game.
By Joel Welser
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