#86 Wake Forest Football 2012 Preview

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

2012 Overall Rank: #86
#5 ACC
Wake Forest College Football 2012 Preview
Wake Forest Team Page


Wake Forest did not have the season it anticipated in 2011.  Some unfortunate losses cost them a chance at a run for the conference title.  All the hard work they did during conference play did not pay off because they could not get it done outside of the ACC.  After a strong start, the Deacs lost six of their last eight to eliminate any possibility of challenging for the ACC crown.  They have some talent on this roster under Jim Grobe, and they have experienced success as recent as 2008.  They played a tough schedule in 2011, which made it difficult to manufacture wins.  The road to a bowl game this season is not much easier.  They have a lot of returning veterans to help them turn some of that bad fortune around.

2011 Record: (6-7, 5-3)
2011 Bowl: Music City Bowl (L, 17-23)
Coach: Jim Grobe (68-67 at Wake, 101-100-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steed Lobotzke
Defensive Coordinator:  Brian Knorr

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Josh Harris, RB, 432 yards
Passing: Tanner Price, QB, 3,017 yards
Receiving: Michael Campanaro, WR, 833 yards
Tackles: Merrill Noel, CB, 66
Sacks: 2 tied at 1.0
Interceptions: Merrill Noel, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR Terence Davis, KR Lovell Jackson, LB Joey Ehrmann, LB Justin Jackson, LB Riley Haynes, NG Nikita Whitlock

Key Losses: RB Brandon Pendergrass, S Josh Bush, WR Chris Givens, WR Danny Dembry, S Cyhl Quarles

Wake Forest is not great at any one thing, but they are pretty good at most aspects of the game.  Quarterback Tanner Price is the greatest asset for this team.  He is an experienced quarterback who has played since his freshman year.  Coming off of a 3,000 yard season, he remains their unquestioned leader.  Everything runs through him.  He also returns the experience of Josh Harris running behind him at tailback.  Harris will help alleviate the loss of star running back Brandon Pendergrass.  Their propensity for valuing possessions should continue in 2012.  They were one of the best in the country in turnover margin because Price only threw six interceptions all season.  They return a set of productive linebackers led by Joey Ehrmann and Justin Jackson on the defensive side to bolster that unit.

Even though they return a lot of important pieces, Wake will have to find a way to replace a whole lot of production.  Wide receiver Chris Givens was a 1,000 yard receiver last year and a high draft pick in the 2012 draft.  He was arguably the best player on offense for the Deacons last year.  Their rushing totals need to improve because at only 114 yards per game, the Deacons did not gain much on the ground.  Perhaps most importantly, Wake needs to improve its sack totals on both sides of the ball.  They were 115th in the nation in getting to the quarterback (less than one per game).  The offensive line gave up nearly three sacks per game last season.  That is not a good stat if Price is your most indispensable player.  

The Bottom Line:
Wake Forest backed into a bowl game last season and lost to SEC opponent Mississippi State.  They play Vanderbilt almost every year and have a tough time with them as well.  Their out of conference schedule in 2012 (which includes Vanderbilt) is going to be the key to their entire season.  They only lost to Notre Dame by a touchdown last year, and lost in overtime to Syracuse in the first game of the year.  To hit eight wins, the Deacons will have to come out on top of those close games.  They have a lot of success against perennial conference power Florida State.  They need to duplicate those performances against the Seminoles when they play the likes of the Irish and the Commodores.  They can reach their eight win mark with steady play.

Projected Bowl: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 114.62 (99th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 253.15 (39, 5)
Total Offense: 367.77 (78, 9)
Scoring Offense: 26.0 (68, 8)
Rushing Defense: 169.85 (79, 9)
Pass Defense: 227.92 (69, 8)
Total Defense: 397.77 (74, 10)
Scoring Defense: 27.38 (65, 9)
Turnover Margin: .69 (17, 2)
Sacks: .85 (115, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 2.69 (100, 11)