Wake Forest Preview 2006
Wake Forest FS Josh Gattis
Posted Jul 31, 2006

There's no margin for error in the new world of the ACC playing in a division with Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland and NC State, and there's always the belief that a school with an enrollment of just over 4,000 students like Wake Forest can't get the talent to make much of a dent in the power conference.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis  

Certainly experience isn't going to be an issue with a whopping 19 returning starters and 48 returning lettermen with quality, reliable depth just about everywhere but on the offensive line. So can the Demon Deacons impose their will on the rest of the ACC and come up with wins over the big boys?

This is always going to be a team that has to catch the top teams napping, and it's usually able to come up with a few good wins a year like the ones over Clemson and NC State last season and Boston College in 2004. The key will be to not slip in the tight games against the mediocre teams. Experienced squads like this one can usually overcome the little things to come through clutch.

Head coach: Jim Grobe
6th year: 26-32
12th year overall: 59-65-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 26, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 10

Ten Best Wake Players
1. LB Jon Abbate, Jr.
2. FS Josh Gattis, Sr.
3. OT Steve Vallos, Sr.
4. RB Micah Andrews, Jr.
5. DE Matt Robinson, Jr. INJ.
6. LB Aaron Curry, Soph.
7. CB Alphonso Smith, Soph.
8. FS Patrick Ghee, Sr.
PK Sam Swank, Soph. 
OT Arby Jones, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7

9/2 Syracuse
9/9 Duke
9/16 at Connecticut
9/23 at Ole Miss
9/30 Liberty
10/7 Clemson
10/14 at NC State
10/28 at North Carolina
11/4 Boston College
11/11 at Florida State
11/18 Virginia Tech
11/25 at Maryland

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Results: 4-7

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/1 Vanderbilt  L 24-20
9/10 at Nebraska L 31-3
9/17 East Carolina  W 44-34
9/24 Maryland L 22-12
10/1 Clemson  W 31-27
10/8 at Florida State L 41-24
10/15 at Boston Coll L 35-30
10/22 NC State  W 27-19
10/29 at Duke W 44-6
11/5 at Georgia Tech L 30-17
11/17 Miami L 47-17

Being competitive hasn't been an issue in the five years under Jim Grobe with 32 of the 58 games played decided by a touchdown or less. To get to a bowl game and take another positive step forward, Wake Forest has to take advantage of every opportunity and needs big seasons out of some key positions. 

The running game should be fine with veteran Micah Andrews running behind an experienced and talented line, but there's a huge, gaping question mark at quarterback with Ben Mauk needing to pay far better than last year when he was an ineffective starter over the first four games. The pass defense was abysmal, but a veteran group returns with improvement on the corners. The linebacking corps is a rock, but the defensive line is a concern with the top players all nursing injuries. In other words, Wake Forest might be really close to putting it all together if all the breaks fall the right way.

Can the Demon Deacons win the Atlantic Division? No, but they'll ruin someone's ACC dream and should get back to a bowl game for the first time since 2002. That might not seem like much, but that would be impressive for a program that's ready for all the hard work to finally start paying off.

The Schedule: Can Wake Forest really go 5-0 going into the Clemson game? It had better if it wants to go bowling. Syracuse, Duke, at UConn, at Ole Miss and Liberty is the easy part of the schedule. Things get a bit rough after with four road games in the final six including battles at Florida State and Maryland. The Groves Stadium home field advantage isn't good enough to make Boston College and Virginia Tech quake, but it's nice to have those two big games at home.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Steve Vallos. The team's most reliable and versatile lineman over the last few years, Vallos is the All-ACC blocker at right tackle who makes the offense go. He's an athletic 290-pounder who'll get a long look from the NFL throughout the season.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Jon Abbate. He didn't put up the huge numbers he did as a freshman, but he still led the team in tackles from his spot in the middle. He's an active all-around defender who's rock solid against the run and great at getting into the backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Ben Mauk. There's no Cory Randolph to bail things out this time around. Mauk wasn't awful after starting the first four games of last year, but the team needed a spark after starting 1-3. He doesn't have to be an All-American, but he does have to be accurate and consistent. Most importantly, he can't make mistakes and hurt the team with interceptions.

The season will be a success if ... Wake Forest gets to a bowl game. It's hardly a lock with the nasty ACC games to deal with and six reasonably tough road games, but a hot start is likely and there are sure to be at least one or two upsets to make a seven win season very possible.

Key game: Oct. 7 vs. Clemson. The Tigers got tagged with a 31-27 loss last year and won't take Wake Forest lightly again. However, a win could mean an impressive 6-0 start for the Demon Deacons after starting the season with five non-bowl teams from last year. With road trips ahead over the following two weeks against NC State and North Carolina, Wake needs to beat Clemson again.

2005 Fun Stats: 
Touchdown passes: Opponents 22 - Wake Forest 7
- Average yards per punt: Wake Forest 43.7 - Opponents 36.2
- Wake Forest op
ponents hit 15 of 15 field goal attempts.

The Last Time Wake Forest…
…played in a bowl game…2002 (Seattle Bowl vs. Oregon)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2002 (North Carolina)
…was shutout…1998 (Air Force)
…scored 50 points…1991 (Navy)
…went undefeated…Never
…won a conference title…1970 (ACC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…Never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Chris Barclay)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1989 (Ricky Proehl)
…had a first-round draft choice…2003 (DE Calvin Pace)