Talking Wake football with The ACC/SEC Blog

Clark over at The ACC and SEC Blog was kind enough to bring me into his ACC previews and had a series of questions for me regarding the upcoming Demon Deacon football season. You can find his questions and my answers after the jump, and you can check out his other ACC previews over at the site.

Q: Wake Forest won 11 games in 2006 with Riley Skinner as a freshman, but has decreased its win total each of the last three seasons all the way to 5 last year. Why do you think the decline happened?

A: There are a few reasons, but I'll try to keep it simple.

First and foremost, that 2006 team was magical. Every break that could go Wake's way went Wake's way. Timely interceptions, 50 yard field goals, an unlikely touchdown; it was just one of those seasons.

The next year was nothing to sniff at either--Kenny Moore had a great year, Alphonso [Smith] played much better, AC [Aaron Curry] became a star, but a lot of that magic was missing. And special teams suffered.

A year later, it was the offensive line. That was a disaster; and special teams were still awful.

And after that, well our most successful class in Wake football history graduated.

So the page was turned and it was really just Riley and a few others left. The offensive line was inconsistent and the defense was almost nonexistent at times. Plus, as good of luck the Deacs had in 2006 that was how much BAD luck the 2009-10 Demon Deacons had.

The decline made sense, and that's why I don't think most of us were particularly surprised. Although we would have liked to see more than the Eagle Bank Bowl in the 08-09 season.

Q: It sounds as if the QB situation is very unsettled after Spring Practice. Who do you expect will start the opener and how short is their chain?

A: Who knows? You probably have as good a guess as I do. Skylar Jones has looked good. Tanner Price shows promise but is too young. [Brendan] Cross has a really good shot. [Ted] Stachitas is probably the best bet if he's healthy.

If you put a gun to my head, I'd say it's between Skylar and Cross. If you were about to shoot, I'd panic and probably say Skylar. But that could change at any moment.

Q: Wake struggled at times to run the ball last year. How is the health of 2007 ACC Rookie of the Year RB Josh Adams?

A: He's ready to go. I expect big things out of the running game this year. There are plenty of likely stars, and Adams is much more focused than he was last year.

As has been the theme--the questions on the line are still there, but I really think the running game will be much better than it was last year, especially since Wake seems devoted to making the running game a much higher priority than the passing game.

Q: I have heard this group of receivers is one of the most talented in the ACC. How will Grobe get the ball in the hands of this talented group with an inexperienced QB?

A: The receivers are spectacular. That was something that went largely unnoticed last year, but blew a lot of us away. The way that Y'Loo, [Marshall] Williams and [Chris] Givens played was just really great to watch. And with young players like Terrance Davis coming out of the woodwork--well, as long as someone can get them the ball, they'll catch it.

Q: Wake's offensive line was good, but certainly not great last year. Where can we expect the improvement in this unit to come from?

A: I honestly don't know. Russel Nenon needs to take the lead and the other guys need to grow up fast. [Joe] Looney is a star in the making, so I see him really anchoring this line. If they get rolling, they have the talent to make things happen.

Q: The defense topped the nation over 2007-2008 with 72 takeaways, but slipped last year to just 15. What is the missing ingredient to get Wake back in the black in turnover margin?

A: Swagger. Last year's team was way too tentative on D, but hopefully the experience will help the young guys' confidence. These guys have a ton of athleticism and speed--but they need to use it.

Q: The Demon Deacons were 10th in total defense in the league last year. Which unit needs to step up the most and get Wake more defensive stops?

A: The line. I fully believe the DBs will be on track this year, but the line needs to play much bigger than they did last year. The average weight has dropped a lot in the last couple years on the line and the guys need to use their speed and agility rather than trying to overpower linemen.

Q: Which of the freshman could see significant playing time this season?

A: There are a bunch of redshirt freshman offensive linemen that have a shot to start if they step up or there are injuries, but I'd say DBs like [Daniel] Mack and [Duran] Lowe or even Nikita Whitlock on the D-line have great opportunities to make an impact early.

Q: Grobe has gotten several offers to leave Winston-Salem for more traditional football programs. Why do you think he has stayed 10 years?

A: He loves Wake Forest, plain and simple. He has a lifetime pass from Wake fans because of what he has done from this program. And someday a building or a field will be named after him.

Wake is a place where he can run his system without any problems, recruit his guys and live comfortably in the community. Plus, he really does care about his kids and the school in general.

Money is nice and prestige is great, but sometimes the right fit means more that both.

Q: Under Grobe, Wake is 26-6 against teams from the state of NC. Which of the other 3 ACC schools is the biggest rival for the Deacs?

A: I'd give the edge to NC State. They've had some great battles against Wake in the last few years and the games always seem to go down to the wire.

Q: Describe a successful season this year at Wake. Describe a disappointing one.

A: Successful: the team improves every game and finishes the season strong. Disappointing: The team regresses and does not fight in games.

Q: What is your prediction for the season?

A: I'm setting the bar at 5.5 wins. I want badly to pick the over, but I think 5 might be the magic number.
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