I couldn't get to Greensboro quickly enough.
Nearly eight months had passed since Vanderbilt put the finishing touches on a wretched football season for Wake Forest, thrashing the Deacons 55-21 in front of a sparse, disheartened crowd. The 2012 Deacs were a continually unfolding disaster, beginning with a heart-pounding 20-17 escape over Liberty (Liberty!) and culminating with lopsided losses at N.C. State and Notre Dame before the Commodores came to town.
The product on and off the field was so abysmal that the faithful began directing vitriol once solely reserved for Steed Lobotzke towards head coach Jim Grobe. To some vocal critics, the wheels falling off of a single season signaled the imminent demise of a Deacon program that had failed to capitalize on the momentum gained during the era of the "Fresh Deacs" from 2005-2008.
To be fair, Wake Forest was a team that began the season with a shaky, untested offensive line. Compounding that fact was a rash of injuries and bad off-the-field decisions that cost talented players multiple games. When depth is a perennial problem for a program, losing numbers (for any reason) of that nature will put a team behind the proverbial 8-ball. Finally, following the season there were public tales of infighting that had worn the team down from the inside. It was, it seemed, a perfect storm of bad fortune for Grobe's charges that currently have wolves at the Deacons' doorstep howling for an improvement.
With that in mind, I headed to Grandover for the 2013 ACC Kickoff to talk with Deacon student-athletes Justin Jackson and Michael Camapanaro, along with their head coach. In addition to gaining insight from those associated with the football program, I was also able to get a pulse from the ACC media on what they believed to be the Deacons' fate in 2013.
While many pundits aren't believers in the Wake Forest offensive line and have adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude for the newly revamped offense, there is a belief that the defense can be be much better, especially the secondary and linebacking corps. That said, the 2013 Deacons are picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic by the ACC media. Coaches, players and media members think that returning to a bowl is very possible for this experienced Wake Forest team.
In the coming days, Blogger So Dear will be posting the fruits of our efforts at the 2013 ACC Kickoff. I took our wonderful photographer, Dana Warren, with me on Sunday and he got some great shots that will be posted soon. Stay tuned to Blogger So Dear for updates as we anxiously await the start of the 2013 football season.