ACC

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 5-7, 3-5
Bowl Game: None
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 4th ACC Atlantic
Offensive rank: 41
Defensive rank: 75

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Josh Adams, 541 yards, 4 TD; Brandon Pendergrass, 399 yards, 1 TD
Passing: Riley Skinner, 3,160 yards, 26 TD, 12 INT
Receiving: Marshall Williams, 867 yards, 6 TD; Devon Brown, 671 yards, 6 TD; Chris Givens, 629 yards, 8 TD
Tackles: Dominique Midgett, 79 total tackles
Sacks: John Russell, 4.5 sacks (3 solo, 3 assisted)
Interceptions: Kenny Okoro, 3 interceptions

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2010 Season Outlook

Schedule
(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 18 @ Stanford: Wake's defense is young, but talented. There is potential, but experience is an issue. While Duke, who they face the week prior, is a passing team that will test the Demon Deacons through the air, their ground game was the worst in the nation last season. They'll face a more balanced offense when they visit Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal even with a group of running backs vying for time to replace Toby Gerhart. Wake will get a sense as to where their defense stands after this one. The Deacs pulled off a win over The Cardinal last season.

OOctober 9 vs. Navy:Speaking of tests for the defense, the Wake D will face one of the nation's consistently strong running games when the Midshipmen come to town. Facing the option offense of Navy requires discipline on the part of the defense. As stated in the above paragraph, Wake's defense is relatively young. This should be a good growing experience for the young defenders.

November 13 @ North Carolina State:Since the conference expanded in 2004, the loser of this matchup was within one score (8 points i.e. a touchdown and two-point conversion) of winning in five of the six matchups. While neither Wake Forest nor North Carolina State is given much consideration for the ACC Atlantic title, grabbing this one in hopes of returning to the bowl season would be nice.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)

AP: N/A

Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Riley Skinner, QB; Chris DeGeare, OT; Jeff Griffin, G; Barrett McMillin, G; John Russell, DT; Boo Robinson, DT; Brandon Ghee, CB

Key Returning Players

Josh Adams, RB; Brandon Pendergrass, RB; Marshall Williams, WR; Devon Brown, WR; Russell Nenon, C; Tristan Dorty, DE; Kyle Wilber, DE; Matt Woodlief, LB; Kenny Okoro, CB; Cyhl Quarles, S; Shane Popham, P

Offensive Overview

The loss of Riley Skinner will likely hurt the passing numbers, but the Demon Deacons will move back to a more run-oriented offense. No starter has been named, but junior Skylar Jones is considered the favorite as we approach the start of the season. Ted Stachitas and Brendan Cross are will compete with Jones this fall. Tanner Price, an incoming freshman, should get his shot at starting as well when he arrives in the fall.

Russell Nenon missed the spring with an injury, but will start at the center position this season. The offensive line returns just two starters in Nenon and guard James Looney. Veteran runners Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass will be back, but the inexperience along the offensive line is worrisome, especially considering the Deacons are moving back to a run-oriented offense. Of course, that allows the new linemen to develop along with the new offense.

The strength of this team will be the receivers. All three leading receivers from last year's team return. Marshall Williams, Devon Brown and Chris Givens form a talented trio that will surely make life easier for whoever starts under center for Wake. Remember, no quarterback on the roster has attempted a pass in a collegiate game.

Defensive Overview

The defense will replace five starters including Boo Robinson and John Russell in the middle of the defensive line. Defensive end Kyle Wilber missed the meaty part of the 2009 season, playing only in the first two and final three games, but is expected to be back for the 2010 season as a speed rusher. Tristan Dorty could get the start at the other end spot, while Ramon Booi and Frank Souza could see time in the middle.

Joey Ehrmann recorded 3.5 sacks last season and will give the Deacons a speedy man with great range in the linebackers corps. Matt Woodlief is another key returner at linebacker. Woodlief recorded 52 tackles last season and will prove a key part of the Wake front seven.

Alex Frye and Cyhl Quarles, last year's leading tackler, will get the nod at safety, with Kenny Okoro and Josh Bush starting at cornerback. The secondary would like to improve upon last season's nine interceptions, and will be tested against a couple solid quarterbacks this season in Andrew Luck of Stanford and Christian Ponder of Florida State.

Special Teams Overview

Shane Popham averaged 38.58 yards per punt last season. Nothing spectacular, but adequate nonetheless. He will return for his junior season. At kicker, Jimmy Newman hit 11 of his 17 field goal attempts and all of his 34 extra point attempts as a freshman last season. He missed all three of his 50+ yard attempts, but hit a long of 44. Improving from the long range wouldn't hurt, but he's a solid kicker who has a number of Wake fans pretty excited for the future.

Head Coach: Jim Grobe

Jim Grobe has been the head coach at Wake Forest since 2001 and has taken his Demon Deacons to a conference title and Orange Bowl appearance in 2006, winning several coach of the year awards after the season. He led Wake to a bowl game in 2002, and then three straight bowl games from 2006 to 2008 beginning with the Orange Bowl loss. He is beloved by fans at Wake and is locked down until the 2016 season.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Marshall Williams, WR

Season Prediction

5th ACC Atlantic

Wake fell from an 8-5, bowl-winning team in 2008 to a 5-7 team that missed the bowl season in 2009. Without Skinner, outlook appears bleak in terms of getting back to a bowl game. It's been difficult to win at Wake Forest over the years, but Jim Grobe has proven that it's not impossible. Still, to win this season, a quarterback must emerge and questions along the offensive line must be answered. On defense, there is a good deal of talent, but experience at certain positions could be an issue. Wake is a candidate to return to the bowl season in the next couple of years as the team reestablishes itself as a running team and the defense grows a bit more mature, but this season is most likely a rebuilding year. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.