2006 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted Dec 30, 2006

2006 Wake Forest Demon Deacon Season, Game Reviews and Recaps

Jan. 2
Orange Bowl
Louisville 24 ... Wake Forest 13

Wake Forest was able to keep the Louisville offense under wraps for three quarters, but after Sam Swank hit a 36-yard field goal for a 13-10 Demon Deacon lead, the Cardinal attack finally woke up going 81 yards in eight plays finishing with a one-yard Anthony Allen touchdown run. Louisville put it away on a  18-yard Brock Bolen dash with less than five minutes to play to end the tough battle. Wake Forest got on the board first with a 44-yard Swank field goal, but Louisville held the halftime lead with a 41-yard Art Carmody shot and a 21-yard touchdown catch from Anthony Allen. Nate Morton took a short pass thirty yards for a touchdown to tie it before Swank hit his fourth quarter shot, but the offense simply couldn't keep up the pace. Demon Deacon LB Jon Abbate made 14 tackles.
Player of the game ... Louisville WR Harry Douglas caught ten passes for 165 yards
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 24-34, 311 yds
Rushing: Kolby Smith, 16-82  Receiving: Harry Douglas, 10-165
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 21-33, 271 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kenneth Moore, 12-73  Receiving: Willie Idlette, 6-91

Thoughts & Notes ... Quarter by quarter game notes
 ... Wake Forest might have lost, but it played its game and had Louisville in a perfect position for the upset until the Cardinal passing game finally got the deep ball going in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals had all Wake Forest's trick plays sniffed out, but the Demon Deacon offensive line did a good enough job of opening holes in the second half to keep it close. ... Brian Brohm was excellent when he had to be, but it helped that he got plenty of time to throw. On the other side, Riley Skinner had a magnificent game under pressure. He was cool, calm, and accurate all game long. ... While Wake Forest got a bad break on a bad fumble call, it still lost the turnover battle three to two. It needed to be at least plus-two to have pulled off the upset. ... Four penalties for 35 yards between the two teams. It was a well-played game from both sides.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7

2006 Results: 10-3

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Syracuse W 20-10
9/9 Duke W 14-13
9/16 at Connecticut W 24-13
9/23 at Ole Miss W 27-3
9/30 Liberty W 34-14
10/7 Clemson L 27-17
10/14 at NC State W 25-23
10/28 at No Carolina W 24-17
11/4 Boston College W 21-14
11/11 at Florida State W 30-0
11/18 Virginia Tech L 27-6
11/25 at Maryland W 38-24
12/1 ACC Championship
Georgia Tech W 9-6
1/1 Orange Bowl
Louisville L 24-13

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

Dec. 2
ACC Championship
Wake Forest 9 ... Georgia Tech 6

On a sloppy field with the two teams combining for 548 yards of offense, Wake Forest's Sam Swank hit three field goals, including a 22-yard shot with 2:55 to play, Tech went three-and-out, and the Demon Deacon offense was able to run out the clock thanks to a 19-yard Willie Idlette end around run. Georgia Tech only managed two Travis Bell field goals from 21 and 34 yards out and hung on to the ball for just 3:54 in the fourth quarter. Calvin Johnson, in a losing cause, caught eight passes for 117 yards.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest LB Jon Abbate made 15 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Reggie Ball, 9-29, 129 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 21-100  Receiving: Calvin Johnson, 8-117
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 14-25, 201 yds
Rushing: Kenneth Moore, 16-39  Receiving: Nate Morton, 4-40

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Wake Forest got outgained by Georgia Tech on the ground, didn't get in the end zone, and couldn't cover Calvin Johnson ... it still won the ACC title. How? It helped that GT QB Reggie Ball couldn't hit an open receiver, but the offense also did its job by not turning the ball over and not giving the Yellow Jackets any breaks. Riley Skinner was efficient and came up with just enough good throws to keep the offense moving in key situations; Ball couldn't do that. Yes, Wake Forest really is going off to the Orange Bowl.

Nov. 25
Wake Forest 38 ... Maryland 24
Wake Forest cranked out a 21-point first half run on a long drive culminating with a two-yard Kevin Harris touchdown run, a 19-yard dash from Kenneth Moore, and a 49-yard Willie Idlette catch. Three Demon Deacon interceptions of Sam Hollenbach killed Maryland's momentum even with touchdown runs from Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball early. Isaiah Williams pulled the Terps within seven early in the fourth quarter on a five-yard catch, but Wake Forest answered with a ten-play, 76-yard drive ending with a one-yard Rich Belton touchdown run.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest RB Kenneth Moore ran 27 times for 165 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Maryland - Passing: Sam Hollenbach, 14-26, 182 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Keon Lattimore, 23-119, 1 TD  Receiving: Isaiah Williams, 3-65, 1 TD
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 10-13, 125 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kenneth Moore, 27-165, 1 TD  Receiving: Willie Idlette, 4-64, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... With 296 rushing yards, an efficient passing game, and three big interceptions from the D, Wake Forest earned its way into the ACC title game with a fantastic game against Maryland. Even when the Terps seized all the momentum, Wake didn't panic getting calm, cool play from QB Riley Skinner and great runs from Kenneth Moore, Kevin Harris and Kevin Moore to control the tempo. As long as they win the turnover margin and keep the running game going, the Demon Deacons have an honest shot of beating Georgia Tech for the ACC title.

Nov. 18
Virginia Tech 27 ... Wake Forest 6
Virginia Tech lost star RB Branden Ore early to an ankle injury, but got an efficient game from Sean Glennon with a 53-yard touchdown pass to Josh Morgan and a 49-yard scoring pass to Eddie Royal for a 14-3 lead. The Tech defense got into the act with a 35-yard fumble return for a score from Xavier Adibi, while Brandon Pace hit field goals from 42 and 35 yards out. Wake Forest only managed 257 yards of offense and two Sam Swank field goals.
Player of the game ... Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon completed 14 of 21 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 14-21, 252 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Kenny Lewis, 17-74  Receiving: David Clowney, 4-66
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 17-30, 195 yds
Rushing: Travo Woods, 14-35  Receiving:
Nate Morton, 5-94
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
As disappointing as the loss to Virginia Tech might be, it was meaningless. Beat Maryland next week, play for the ACC title; it's that simple. The Terp run defense has active linebackers, but they're nothing like Virginia Tech's, so the running game should be a bit more effective. If Riley Skinner has to make plays through the air, the Demon Deacons are in trouble.

Nov. 11
Wake Forest 30 ... Florida State 0
Wake Forest held Florida State to 139 yards of total offense and won easily with Sam Swank field goals from 20, 25 and 51 yards out, a 18-yard touchdown catch from John Tereshinski on the first play after an interception, and a 33-yard touchdown run from Richard Belton to turn it into a laugher. Kevin Patterson ended any and all Seminole hope with a 48-yard interception return for a score. The Seminole quarterbacks combined to complete nine of 28 pass with both Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee throwing two picks.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner completed 13 of 19 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Xavier Lee, 5-13, 61 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Antone Smith, 6-39  Receiving: Chris Davis, 2-29
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 13-19, 138 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kenneth Moore, 24-80  Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 5-35

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Do you believe now? Wake Forest flat-out thumped Florida State in an all-time shocker, even for this season. It wasn't that the Demon Deacons won, it's that it did it with defense, athleticism, and a near-perfect all-around performance. Riley Skinner made the throws he had to for the chains to keep moving holding onto the ball for almost 36 minutes despite only converting three of 14 third down chances. FSU might be struggling, but it's still amazing to hold the Nole offense to nine first downs and 139 yards of total offense.

Nov. 4
Wake Forest 21 ... Boston College 14
Wake Forest got a nine-yard touchdown run from Willie Idlette, and 46-yard touchdown grab from Nate Morton, and a breathtaking 81-yard Kevin Marion touchdown run on an end-around for a 21-7 lead, but had to hold on late with two big turnovers saving the game. Matt Ryan threw for 402 yards and ran for a two-yard score for BC, but he threw a key late interception and Jyles Tucker forced an L.V. Whitworth fumble to keel the Eagles off the board in the fourth quarter. While Ryan bombed away, the running game was held to 28 yards on 25 carries.
Player of the game ... In a losing cause, Boston College QB Matt Ryan completed 40 of 57 passes fro 402 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions and ran for a score.
Stat Leaders: Boston College - Passing: Matt Ryan, 40-57, 402 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: L.V. Whitworth, 12-34  Receiving: Kevin Challenger, 5-73
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 15-23, 120 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Kevin Marion, 2-91, 1 TD  Receiving:
Nate Morton, 7-94
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Wake Forest is inventing way to win. It got outbombed and outgained by Boston College, but it didn't make the big penalties or turnovers the Eagles did and found ways to get the big scoring plays to get up and stay there. Credit the timely defense for bending but not breaking, and credit the run D for making BC one-dimensional. Considering the injuries the team has faced, Jim Grobe and his staff are doing the best job in America and it's not even close. Now the Demon Deacons can actually dream about the ACC title, but it's not going to be easy with Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Maryland to close things out needing to win two of the three with one of the victories coming against the Terps.

Oct. 28
Wake Forest 24 ... North Carolina 17
Wake Forest scored ten fourth quarter points with Riley Skinner connecting with Kenneth Moore for a 39-yard touchdown and Sam Swank connecting on a 41-yard field goal, and then the defense held on with Jon Abbate picking off a pass in the end zone with :41 to play. The Demon Deacons started off the scoring with Alphonso Smith returning a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter, but North Carolina answered with a 13-play, 80-yard drive finishing with a one-yard pass to converted tackle Andre Barbour. The two traded punches in the second quarter with Kenneth Moore running a reverse for a 34-yard Wake Forest touchdown, only to have the Tar Heels tie it up late in the first half on a one-yard Ronnie McGill run.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest S Josh Gattis made 13 tackles, one interception and recovered a fumble
Stat Leaders: North Carolina - Passing: Joe Dailey, 13-19, 156 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Ronnie McGill, 29-117, 1 TD  Receiving: Brooks Foster, 4-49
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 7-8, 89 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: DeAngelo Bryant, 15-58  Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 6-82, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
Wake Forest got the big plays it needed against North Carolina with a blocked punt for a score, a reverse for a touchdown, and an interception in the end zone with the defense making the most noise. After being run over in the first half by Ronnie McGill, the D put the clamps down shutting down the Tar Heel attack while coming up with three big turnovers. Now the Demon Deacons have their most meaningful games in years facing Boston College, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Maryland over the next month with the Atlantic Division there for the taking. There will have to be a little more pop from the passing game, while the mistakes have to go Wake's way.

Oct. 14
Wake Forest 25 ... NC State 23
Wake Forest got three field goals from Sam Swank from over 50 yards out and a 57-yard touchdown pass to Nate Morton. The defense had to hold on as NC State came back in the fourth quarter with a 27-yard field goal from John Deraney and a 13-yard scoring run from Toney Baker, but a final drive into Wake Forest territory was wiped out by an interception by Josh Gattis. Baker and Andre Brown ran for short scores in the second quarter.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest PK Sam Swank hit three field goals from 51, 53 and 53 yards and doinked a 49 yarder off the upright
Stat Leaders: NC State - Passing: Daniel Evans, 21-37, 200 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Toney Baker, 13-57, 2 TD  Receiving: Lamart Barrett, 5-47
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 9-14, 124 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kevin Harris, 22-65, 1 TD  Receiving: Zac Selmon, 2-30

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Wake Forest could've melted down like it did against Clemson after just missing an interception on a late NC State drive that would've sealed the game, and getting some bad luck on a Sam Swank field goal off the upright, but the team found a way to hold tough and get the job done. Now Wake Forest is bowl eligible and can start shooting for bigger things. Virginia Tech is certainly beatable, and Florida State and Boston College will be battles. An ACC title is too much to ask for, but ten wins isn't an insane dream. To get there, the penalties have to slow down and the team has to capitalize on every opportunity.

Oct. 7
Clemson 27 ... Wake Forest 17
Wake Forest started off hot with a 17-3 lead with a six-yard Willie Idlette touchdown catch and a trick play 19-yard touchdown throw from Nate Morton to QB Riley Skinner, but Clemson came through with the big plays needed to win the game. The Tigers forced a fumble deep in their own territory after a huge Wake Forest return off the opening kickoff of the game, and Gaines Adams returned a muffed field goal attempt 66 yards for a score. C.J. Spiller gave Clemson the lead for good on a 72-yard touchdown run as part of a 24 point fourth quarter run.
Player of the game ... Clemson DE Gaines Adams made six tackles, two forced fumbles, two sacks, and returned a fumble for a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Clemson - Passing: Will Proctor, 20-30, 214 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: C.J. Spiller, 9-104, 1 TD  Receiving: Aaron Kelly, 5-91, 1 TD
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 18-23, 169 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kevin Harris, 12-51, 1 TD  Receiving: Nate Morton, 4-64

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Even in a heartbreaking loss to Clemson, Wake Forest has to at least be a little bit pleased to know it can play with the best of the best in the ACC. The team could've packed it in right off the bat after the Kevin Marion 93-yard opening kickoff couldn't be converted into points, but it fought its way back and got in the position to take a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but bad luck and the overall Clemson athleticism came through. The key will be to not let down. The Demon Deacons, if they play like they did against Clemson, can win at NC State and North Carolina over the next two weeks.

Sept. 30
Wake Forest 34 ... Liberty 14
Wake Forest opened up the passing game a little bit, but it was the running of Kevin Harris, who tore off touchdown runs of 27 and seven yards, that helped get out to a 17-0 lead. Nate Morton caught a 59-yards touchdown pass with just over a minute to play for a 27-7 Demon Deacon lead, which was extended in the fourth quarter on a three-yard DeAngelo Bryant touchdown run. Liberty managed to move the ball through the air getting two Darnell Edwards scoring grabs, but were never in the game.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest RB Kevin Harris had 77 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries and added a catch for two yards.
Stat Leaders: Liberty - Passing: Brock Smith, 15-25, 211 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Rashad Jennings, 19-35  Receiving: Wynton Jackson, 7-69
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 13-21, 218 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kevin Harris, 8-77, 2 TDs  Receiving: Nate Morton, 6-127, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Wake Forest did exactly what you're supposed to do with a game against a team like Liberty and experiment a little bit. Backup RB Kevin Harris got plenty of work, and Riley Skinner got to bomb away a little bit to get more of a passing game going just in time for showdowns against Clemson and NC State over the next two weeks. If Skinner can be an even more effective downfield passer, the Demon Deacon running game will be more dangerous.

Sept. 23
Wake Forest 27 ... Ole Miss 3
Wake Forest was missing its star RB Micah Andrews, but DeAngelo Bryant made up for it with 105 yards and a nine-yard first quarter touchdown for all the points the team would need. Ole Miss never got its running game going being held to 26 yards thanks to five sacks of QB Brent Schaeffer. The Demon Deacons put it away in the third quarter on two short touchdown runs by Kevin Harris and Mike Rinfrette along with the second Sam Swank field goal of the day.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest RB DeAngelo Bryant ran 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 4-5, 43 yds
Rushing: DeAngelo Bryant, 22-105, 1 TD. Receiving: Richard Belton, 1-28
Ole Miss - Passing: Brent Schaeffer, 13-28, 127 yds, 1 INT
BenJarvis Green-Ellis, 12-54. Receiving: Dexter McCluster, 6-60
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... Lose a starting quarterback? No biggie. Lose the top running back? Replace him. Wake Forest keeps overcoming adversity to win with players stepping up in all phases to pick up the slack. The defense pitched a near perfect game against Ole Miss, while DeAngelo Bryant stepped in for Micah Andrews and had a terrific game. Eventually, the lack of a passing game from Riley Skinner will be costly, but for now, everything is clicking. Now it's important to focus on Liberty before dealing with Clemson. If the defense plays as well as it did in Oxford, getting the sixth win and the bowl eligibility won't be a problem once ACC play really kicks in.

Sept. 15
Wake Forest 24 ... Connecticut 13
Wake Forest only gained 209 yards of total offense but took advantage of three turnovers and an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown to come away with the win. Micah Andrew capped off the team's best drive of the game with a six-yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter for a 14-7 lead. UConn's offense cranked out yards, but sputtered in the second half. Brandon Young caught a six-yard touchdown pass and Lou Allen ran for a 15-yard touchdowns, but the extra point failed, in the first half for all the Husky points.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry made 7.5 tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble
Stat Leaders: Connecticut - Passing: D.J. Hernandez, 19-32, 197 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Terry Caulley, 15-81. Receiving: Brandon Young, 6-66, 1 TD
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 7-16, 110 yds
Micah Andrews, 21-73, 1 TD. Receiving: Willie Idlette, 2-38
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
You know things are going well when you play as poorly as Wake Forest did against Connecticut, at least on offense, yet still win on the road by double-digits. The offense, under QB Riley Skinner, has to be far sharper, especially on third downs, and there has to be at least a few big passing plays. Wake Forest won't win many games when it averages 2.6 yards per carry. 3-0 is 3-0 for a program that couldn't but a break or a close win last year. A win at Ole Miss next week means a 5-0 start (with Liberty up the following week) before dealing with Clemson.

Sept. 9
Wake Forest 14 ... Duke 13
Wake Forest's Chip Vaughn blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt as time ran out to help avoid the upset. Down 13-7, Micah Andrews ran for a two-yard score for the Demon Deacons with 1:28 to play, but the defense couldn't stop Thaddeus Lewis and the Duke offense with pass interference plays allowing the Blue Devils to get in range to win the game. Duke struck first on a 47-yard touchdown catch from Jomar Wright on the way to a 10-0 first half lead, but Wake would get back in the game on a five-yard touchdown catch from John Tereshinski.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn made three tackles, one interception, and blocked the final Duke field goal attempt.
Stat Leaders: Duke - Passing: Thaddeus Lewis, 21-32, 305 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Clifford Harris, 9-29. Receiving: Jomar Wright, 5-104, 1 TD
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 22-29, 235 yds, 1 TD
Micah Andrews, 17-41, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 6-61
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ...
It's never a good thing to be pushed to the wall by Duke, but give credit to Wake Forest for making the plays when it absolutely had to both on final offensive drive of the game and the blocked field goal to preserve the win. Riley Skinner was poised and rock-solid, especially on the final drive, despite not making too many throws to stretch the field. The offense has to be used to everyone loading up against Micah Andrews and the ground game, so Skinner has to keep coming through with efficient play. LB Jon Abbate was magnificent against the Blue Devils.

Sept. 2
Wake Forest 20 ... Syracuse 10
Wake Forest outgained Syracuse 363 yards to 136, but it needed a 19-yard touchdown run from De'Angelo Bryant to finally put the Orange away. The two teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter with Willie Idlette catching a 14-yard touchdown pass for the Demon Deacons before Rice Moss answered with a  21-yard scoring grab. While Wake won the game, it proved costly as starting quarterback Ben Mauk was carried off on a stretcher after suffering an arm injury diving for a fumble. SU LB Kelvin Smith led all defenders with 16 tackles.
Player of the game ... Wake Forest RB Micah Andrews ran 20 times for 142 yards.
Stat Leaders: Syracuse - Passing: Perry Patterson , 5-18, 45 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Curtis Brinkley, 8-49. Receiving: Tim Lane, 3-20
Wake Forest - Passing: Ben Mauk, 14-21, 105 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Micah Andrews, 20-142. Receiving: Willie Idlette, 4-41, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean Basil? ... How will Wake Forest do without Ben Mauk under center? The offense wasn't humming against the tough Syracuse defense, but it was effective with Mauk coming up with an efficient game. A win over Duke is likely without much of a passing game, but to get past UConn and Ole Miss on the road, there will have to be a little bit of balance. Mauk's injury puts the pressure on Micah Andrews, De'Angelo Bryant, and the rest of the backs to shoulder even more of the load.

2006 Wake Forest Preview

Wake Forest Preview
| Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis  

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. This year, however, the Demon Deacons might be good enough to break the cycle of three straight losing seasons and get back to a bowl. 

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.

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)