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2007 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Collegefootballnews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2007


2007 Wake Forest Demon Deacons Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Recap: Those expecting Wake Forest to disappear after its magical 2006 season were off the mark, as the program won nine games, capping its best two-year record in school history.  Using the same formula that led to an ACC title a year ago, sound defense and positive turnover margin, the Deacons rebounded from an 0-2 start to finish on a 9-2 tear that included a Meineke Car Care Bowl win over Connecticut.  Wake made an admirable push in the Atlantic Division, but was never able to overcome an opening day loss to Boston College, the eventual divisional champ.         

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Kenneth Moore

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Aaron Curry

Biggest Surprise: Wake Forest embarrassed Florida State, 30-0, in Tallahassee last season, so the ‘Noles would get revenge this year, right?  Wrong.  On national TV, the Deacons showed America they were no one-hit wonder, scoring 17 unanswered points in another statement win over the Seminoles.    

Biggest Disappointment: In Week 2, the Deacons outplayed a Nebraska team that was looking ahead to USC, yet fell short in a heartbreaker, 20-17.  Wake Forest had a ton of chances to pull the game out, but was hampered by the absence of starting QB Riley Skinner, who was sidelined with an injury.       

Looking Ahead: The return of head coach Jim Grobe and emergence of freshman back Josh Adams mean Wake Forest should be right back in the ACC title hunt in 2008.  Developing more depths on both lines will be a top priority for the coaching staff in the spring.     

- 2007 Wake Preview
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2006 Wake Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
5-7
2007 Results: 9-4

Sept. 1 at Boston Coll L 38-28
Sept. 8 Nebraska L 20-17
Sept. 15
Army W 31-10
Sept. 22 Maryland W 31-24 OT
Oct. 6
at Duke W 41-36
Oct. 11 Florida State W 24-21
Oct. 20
at Navy W 44-24
Oct. 27 North Carolina W 37-10
Nov. 3 at Virginia L 17-16
Nov. 10 at Clemson L 44-10
Nov. 17
NC State W 37-17
Nov. 24 at Vanderbilt W 31-17
Meineke Car Care Bowl
Dec. 29 Connecticut W 24-10

Dec. 29
2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl
Wake Forest 24 ... Connecticut 10

Wake Forest gave up a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown to Larry Taylor in the first quarter, and allowed a 29-yard field goal in the second. Then it was all Demon Deacons scoring 24 unanswered points while the defensive shut down the Husky attack. Riley Skinner connected with John Tereshinski for a 20-yard score and Josh Adams tore off a 38-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Sam Swank connected on a 43-yard field goal in the fourth, and Micah Andrews put it away with a nine-yard touchdown run in the final minute. UConn was held to just nine first downs and 213 yards of total offense, while the Demon Deacon had 23 first downs and 412 yards.
Offensive Player of the Game: Wake Forest WR Kenneth Moore made 11 catches for 112 yards, returned four punts for 26 yards, and two kickoffs for 33 yards
Defensive Player of the Game: Wake Forest LB Stanley Arnoux made eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, half a sack, broke up a pass and came up with an interception
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 29-38, 268 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Josh Adams, 19-66, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 11-112
Connecticut - Passing: Tyler Lorenzen, 13-26, 98 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Donald Brown, 13-72. Receiving: Brad Kanauch, 3-36
Thoughts & Notes ... UConn's defense was solid all season long, and while it forced two turnovers, including a beauty of a hit by Darius Butler to stop a sure touchdown drive, the offense couldn't provide any help. Tyler Lorenzen did the best he could under pressure, but he couldn't make enough plays with his feet, and he struggled to get any consistent offense going. The Huskies simply couldn't get behind, and they did in the second half. ... With 20 wins in the last two years is a lot for anyone, but for Wake Forest, this represents the best era in the school's football history. Jim Grobe continues to be the coach's coach, the one who gets the utmost respect for what he does with less talent than most, but he's had some players over the last few years. Kenneth Moore grew into a top pass catcher, the offensive line has been terrific, and the defense has had a few great college talents here and there. Now the program has expectations, and that's not a bad thing. ... Once the Demon Deacons took control in the second half, never once did it seem like the Huskies had a shot to make a comeback. There were a few chances, and the defense wasn't awful, but the passing game was too off and the ground game didn't provide any pop. Outside of a few big runs, Donald Brown and Andre Dixon never got going.

Nov. 24
Wake Forest 31 ... Vanderbilt 17
Vanderbilt had its chances to become bowl eligible, but turned it over five times with Alphonso Smith killing two drives with interceptions. The Demon Deacons held a 31-3 lead going into the fourth quarter helped by Josh Adams touchdown runs from 14 and 12 yards out, and two Riley Skinner touchdown passes. Vandy tried to comeback with two fourth quarter touchdown passes from Richard Kovalcheck, but they weren't nearly enough. The Commodores outgained the Demon Deacons 349 yards to 296.
Player of the game: Wake Forest RB Josh Adams ran 24 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 21-31, 146 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Josh Adams, 24-111, 2 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 9-39
Vanderbilt - Passing: Richard Kovalcheck, 23-38, 269 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Cassen Jackson-Garrison, 12-11. Receiving: Earl Bennett, 6-65, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While it might not have been a perfect all-around performance against Vanderbilt, the defense came up with five takeaways, the offense was balanced, and the Demon Deacons got their eighth win of the season. The running of Josh Adams helped keep control of the game, while Alphonso Smith and the defense kept Vandy from ever having hope early on. Holding the Commodores rushing attack to just 16 yards was impressive. Now it's off to a bowl game after proving that last year wasn't a fluke.

Nov. 17
Wake Forest 38 ... NC State 18
Wake Forest took control of the game in the second half with a 62-yard touchdown catch from Jordan Williams followed by a 37-yard Sam Swank field goal and a sealing 57-yard interception return for a score from Aaron Curry. NC State pulled within three in the third quarter on a Jamelle Eugene one-yard touchdown run, but four turnovers an 11 penalties proved to be too costly. DeAngelo Bryant scored on a one-yard run and a five-yard pass in the first half on the way to a 21-10 Demon Deacon lead.
Player of the game: Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner completed 20 of 29 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: NC State - Passing: Daniel Evans, 24-56, 286 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Jamelle Eugene, 18-56, 1 TD. Receiving: Darrell Blackman, 7-114
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 20-29, 208 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Josh Adams, 24-84, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 8-83

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Demon Deacons took back control of their season after losing two straight by dominating NC State defensively. Riley Skinner was sharp and kept the offense moving, but it was the D that came through with four takeaways and holding the Wolfpack to 57 rushing yards. There were mistakes with two fumbles, but Wake let NC State screw up more. This has already been a great year to follow up the ACC championship, and a win at Vanderbilt would make it even more special. Eight win regular seasons aren't commonplace around Winston-Salem.

Nov. 10
Clemson 44 ... Wake Forest 10
Clemson scored on its first drive, getting a seven-yard Cullen Harper touchdown run, but Wake Forest was able to keep it close early with a two-yard Josh Adams touchdown run to pull within three. And then the rout was on. Clemson scored 17 straight points in the first half on two Harper touchdown passes, including the first of two to Aaron Kelley, and Mark Buchholz's second of three field goals. Wake Forest got on the board first in the second half with a 52-yard Sam Swank field goal, but the Tigers answered with a 90-yard C.J. Spiller kickoff return for a score to spark another 17-point Tiger run. Kelly set the Clemson record for touchdown catches in a season with 11.
Player of the game: Clemson QB Cullen Harper completed 27 of 35 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for seven yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Clemson - Passing: Cullen Harper, 27-35, 266 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: James Davis, 21-62. Receiving: Aaron Kelly,10-93, 2 TD
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 21-30, 170 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Micah Andrews, 10-42. Receiving: Josh Adams, 7-5

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... There's little doubt that Wake Forest has talent, and it's certainly well coached, but every once in a while, it's going to get crunched by a team with superior athletes and one that's playing at a high level. The trip to Clemson was one of those times. The Tigers are playing like the best team in the ACC with all its parts working, and the Demon Deacons simply couldn't keep up. Now a win over NC State is a must to move up in the bowl pecking order. A loss this week was fine. A loss next week in the home finale will be devastating.

Nov. 3
Virginia 17 ... Wake Forest 16
Wake Forest's Sam Swank missed two field goals including a 47-yarder as time ran out to give Virginia the win. Jameel Sewell connected with Maurice Covington for a 39-yard touchdown pass with ten seconds left in the first half, and Mikell Simpson ran for a one-yard score with 2:18 to play to give the Cavaliers their first lead of the game. Swank nailed field goals from 27, 25 and 31 yards, and Kenneth Moore caught a 13-yard touchdown pass for the Demon Deacons.
Player of the game: Virginia DE Chris Long made ten tackles. a sack and two tackles for loss.
Stat Leaders: Virginia - Passing: Jameel Sewell, 20-43, 225 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jameel Sewell, 9-47. Receiving: Mikell Simpson, 8-77
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 20-26, 175 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Josh Adams, 21-74. Receiving:
Kenneth Moore, 5-59, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Demon Deacons were playing Demon Deacon football against Virginia, but Sam Swank's missed two field goals and the D wasn't able to come up with a late stop. Even so, there's still not much of a reason to worry too much going down the stretch. Riley Skinner continues to play extremely well, Kenneth Moore continues to be fantastic, and the team is playing well. There's no reason to think there can't be two wins in the final three games against Clemson, NC State and Vanderbilt.

Oct. 26
Wake Forest 37 ... North Carolina 10
Wake Forest jumped out to a 10-0 lead helped by a six-yard Josh Adams touchdown run. and then answered a 38-yard Connor Barth field goal with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Kevin Marion. The Demon Deacons only gained 269 yards of total offense, but took advantage of every opportunity with Adams running for a 14-yard score on the first play after a turnover, and LB Aaron Curry took a pass 77 yards for a score. Sam Swank became the Wake Forest all-time leading scorer hitting field goals from 23, 22 and 46 yards out.
Player of the game: Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry made seven tackles and two interceptions, taking one for a score.
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 12-15, 133 yds
Rushing: Josh Adams, 18-82, 2 TDs. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 4-41
North Carolina - Passing: T.J. Yates, 26-33, 236 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Johnny White, 6-31. Receiving: Hakeem Nicks, 9-87

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The Demon Deacon offense wasn't exactly impressive against North Carolina, having problems with the Tar Heel pass rush and getting almost nothing going down the field, but it didn't have to be anything special. The defense did a fantastic job of forcing mistakes, while Kevin Marion, Sam Swank and the special teams once again proved to be a major strength. Now on a six-game winning streak, the tough part begins with road trips to Virginia and Clemson. Win those, and then this season might be even more special than 2006.

Oct. 20
Wake Forest 44 ... Navy 24
Kenneth Moore
caught 15 passes with a 13-yard touchdown catch to start the scoring, and a 22-yard touchdown to end the scoring. Along the way, the Demon Deacons took advantage of three Navy turnovers with a fumble recovery for a score as part of a 30-7 run. Navy ran for 328 yards, and got two Shun White touchdown runs and a one-yard score from Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, but it wasn't nearly enough.
Player of the game: Wake Forest WR Kenneth Moore caught 15 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and ran once for five yards.
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Jarod Bryant, 4-9, 39 yds
Rushing: Eric Kettani, 14-75. Receiving: Greg Sudderth, 2-18
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 22-28, 213 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Josh Adams, 27-131, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 15-181, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Wake Forest played a near-perfect game against Navy with excellent balance, efficient passing, strong defense when it had to be tight, and no turnovers. Riley Skinner got plenty of time to throw, and he and Kenneth Moore had themselves a huge afternoon. Now the Demon Deacons are on a five-game winning streak with a very winnable game against North Carolina ahead. Out of the remaining five games, three are on the road, but they're all winnable if Wake plays like this. In other words, watch out. It's happening again.

Oct. 11
Wake Forest 24 ... Florida State 21
Kenneth Moore caught a 35-yard touchdown pass to put Wake Forest up 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, and Sam Swank put it away with a 48-yard field goal. Florida State made it interesting with a 17-yard Xavier Lee touchdown run with 17 seconds to play, but the Demon Deacons recovered the onside kick. Josh Adams started off the scoring with an 83-yard run, and tied it for Wake with a six-yard scoring grab in the third, while Lee threw two touchdown passes, highlighted by a four-yard jump ball to Greg Carr. The two teams combined for seven turnovers and 18 penalties.

Player of the game: Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner completed 19 of 27 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 19-27, 215 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Josh Adam, 18-140, 1 TD. Receiving: Josh Adams, 6-29, 1 TD
Florida State - Passing: Xavier Lee, 24-45, 283 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Antone Smith, 14-32. Receiving:
Greg Carr, 8-108, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Last week, Wake Forest almost blew it late against Duke by not getting any defense in the final few minutes. The D made up for it against Florida State, swarming all over the Seminole running game and not letting Xavier Lee and company get anything moving. Offensively, Riley Skinner was Riley Skinner. He put the ball in positions for his targets to do something after the catch, and he held up extremely well despite getting beaten around. While Skinner was the star, this was a game for the defense. It hit like a ton of bricks from start to finish, and put the team in the thick of the ACC title chase.

Oct. 6
Wake Forest 41 ... Duke 36
Wake Forest appeared to be on its way to an easy win, getting up 34-9 midway through the third quarter on a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown from Alphonso Smith, but in a game of rallies, Duke cranked out 20 straight points, pulling within five on a  31-yard Jomar Wright touchdown catch. Kenneth Moore ripped off a 53-yard scoring dash with just over two minutes to play to appear to seal the win for the Demon Deacons. Duke started out with a 9-0 lead on a safety and a 68-yard Eron Riley touchdown catch, but Wake responded with 34 straight points before the Blue Devils made it interesting again.

Player of the game: Wake Forest RB Kenneth Moore rushed four times for 84 yards and a pair of scores, while catching 11 passes for 100 yards. 
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 22-30, 221 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Kenneth Moore, 4-84, 2 TDs. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 11-100
Duke - Passing: Thaddeus Lewis, 21-47, 291 yds, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing:
Re’quan Boyette, 8-77. Receiving: Eron Riley, 8-143, 2 TDs

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Talk about taking advantage of every opportunity, Wake Forest only gained 336 yards of total offense against Duke, and committed ten penalties for 107 yards, but still cranked out a huge run to get a big enough cushion to hold on late. While QB Riley Skinner was effective, he didn't put up big yards (220) while the defense had way too many problems with the Duke passing game. When the team needed a big scoring play, it got it from Kenneth Moore, but this hardly has to feel like a satisfying win going into the date with Navy.

Sept. 22
Wake Forest 31 ... Maryland 24 OT
Josh Adams gave Wake Forest its first lead of the game on a six-yard touchdown run in overtime, and Maryland couldn't respond, with its drive stopped by sacks. The Terps appeared to be coasting, getting up 24-3 on three touchdown runs from three different players, and a 38-yard field goal from Obi Egekeze. The blowout appeared to be complete on a late third quarter drive, but Wake's Alphonso Smith picked off a Jordan Steffy pass for a 100-yard touchdown the other way to spark a run of 27 unanswered points. Riley Skinner ran for a one-yard touchdown, and connected with John Tereshinski for a six-yard score with three seconds to play to force overtime.
Player of the game: Wake Forest RB Josh Adams rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and caught four passes for 22 yards.
Stat Leaders: Maryland - Passing: Jordan Steffy, 11-20, 115 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Keon Lattimore, 27-112, 1 TD. Receiving: Danny Oquendo, 3-18
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 22-35, 219 yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing:
Josh Adams, 20-91, 1 TD. Receiving: John Tereshinski, 5-55, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... How much heart does the team have? All of last year, the Demon Deacons never said die as they found ways to win. Against Maryland, with everything going the other way, Alphonso Smith comes up with a 100-yard pick six, and then it was as if a light turned on. All of a sudden, Riley Skinner started moving the offense, the running game got going, and the season might have been saved. With Duke up next, there's a great chance to get to 2-1 in ACC play before facing Florida State.

Sept. 15
Wake Forest 21 ... Army 10
Wake Forest's offense struggled, but the defense and special teams came through as Kenneth Moore returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown and Josh Adams ran for a ten-yard score. Army cut the lead to seven with a three-yard Mike Viti touchdown run, but the Demon Deacons would put it away at the end of the half with an 84-yard Aaron Curry interception return for a score. Each team turned it over three times.

Player of the game:
Wake Forest FS Chip Vaughn made 11 tackles and broke up a pass.
Stat Leaders: Army - Passing: Carson Williams, 14-34, 165 yds, 2 INTs
Rushing: Wesley McMahand, 11-45. Receiving: Corey Anderson, 4-66
Wake Forest - Passing: Brett Hodges, 9-12, 49 yds
Rushing:
Josh Adams, 9-64, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 5-26
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Demon Deacons can be forgiven a bit if the offense was going to let down in a sandwich game against Army, after the tough loss to Nevada and the showdown with Maryland ahead, but to only get 213 yards and to struggle as much as the attack did has to be a concern. Brett Hodges threw like he didn't want to make a mistake, which would be fine if the running game was rolling. It wasn't. Consider it a good sign that the defense and special teams could pick up the slack.

Sept. 8
Nebraska 20 ... Wake Forest 17
Nebraska overcame three turnovers, including a critical interception, and had to hang on late to pull off the tight win. Marlon Lucky's 22-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter gave the Huskers the lead, but it took a Zackary Bowman interception in the end zone late in the fourth to preserve it. The two teams traded scores all day, with Wake Forest getting two short touchdown runs, and a 25-yard Sam Swank field goal, while the Huskers got two Alex Henery field goals along with a 25-yard touchdown catch from Sam Hill.

Player of the game:
Nebraska CB Zackary Bowman made seven tackles and a critical interception in the end zone
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 24-41, 258 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 24-90, 1 TD. Receiving: Terrence Nunn, 6-83
Wake Forest - Passing: Brett Hodges, 12-24, 140 yds, 2 INTs
Rushing: Kenneth Moore, 8-116, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 4-35
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Even in a loss, there were positive signs for the Demon Deacons. The secondary was better after being torched against Boston College, and despite Nebraska doing everything possible to stop the run, the ground game still got 236 yards. Brett Hodges was solid, but his interception in the end zone late was an inexperienced mistake. Basically, the team knows it can hang with the better teams, and now it needs to roll over Army just to get a little confidence before dealing with Maryland.

Sept. 1
Boston College 38 ... Wake Forest 28
Matt Ryan threw five touchdown passes and DeJuan Tribble picked off three passes as Boston College survived a firefight with Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons scored the first 14 points of the game on a 22-yard interception return for a score from Alphonso Smith and a five-yard touchdown catch from Kenneth Moore, and held a 21-14 lead after a 40-yard fumble return for a score from Chip Vaughn, and then BC caught fire scoring 21 straight points on three Ryan touchdown passes. Wake pulled within seven on a 12-yard Kevin Harris touchdown grab, but BC was finally able to pull away in the final minutes on a 28-yard Steve Aponavicius field goal.
Player of the game ... Boston College QB Matt Ryan went 32-of-52 for 408 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest- Passing: Riley Skinner, 28-37, 236 yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing: Kevin Harris, 4-10  Receiving: Kenny Moore, 15-126, 1 TD
Boston College - Passing: Matt Ryan, 32-52, 408 yds, 5 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing:
Andre Callender, 14-49  Receiving: Brandon Robinson, 9-127, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Wake Forest formula appeared to be working early against BC with an opportunistic defense making big plays to help out the offense, and then the running game failed to get going, the turnovers kicked in, and QB Riley Skinner was knocked out hurt. Brett Hodges came in and was fantastic as the Demon Deacons kept bombing away and stayed in the game. Expect more of the same against Nebraska. The ground game probably won't work again, so there will be plenty of passes, plenty of trick plays, and to have a chance, there has to be plenty of turnovers.

Sept. 1 – at Boston College
Offense: It's Matt Ryan's offense and everyone is just playing in it. The new coaching staff will install a new zone blocking scheme, putting a premium on quick, flashy runners, but the line might not be suited for the system. The receiving corps is decent, but nothing special, and the tight ends are promising. It all comes down to Ryan, who'll have more control in the attack, able to change things up a bit on the fly, and he should be tremendous now that he's healthy. He was the best quarterback in the ACC last year, and that was with a broken foot.
Defense: Is it time to start giving the BC defense a little love? It allowed 17 points per game in 2004, 15.92 in 2005, and 15.69 last year. With defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani back, it should be even better with nine starters returning including the entire front seven if linebacker Brian Toal is back from a shoulder problem. The monster tackles, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, will gum up everything inside, while the deep linebacking corps will quietly be among the ACC's best. DeJuan Tribble is one of the league's best shutdown corners, and Jamie Silva is a top free safety. The problem? There isn't a reliable second corner, and strong safety is a question mark.

Sept. 8 - Nebraska
Offense: From possibly losing star receiver Maurice Purify for being a knucklehead off the field, to losing leading rusher Brandon Jackson to the NFL, promising runner Kenny Wilson to a broken leg while moving a TV, and starting guard Matt Huff to a blown out Achilles (though he might be back), it's been a rough off-season for the offense. Even with all the problems, the offense will roll if, and it's a screaming if, the once-promising tackle prospects come through and the starting 11 stays healthy. Top back Marlon Lucky can't be counted on for a full season, while backup Cody Glenn is already hobbling with a foot problem. There's no one of note behind them. The line had to do some shuffling after a variety of injuries, meaning the ground game could struggle at times. Fortunately, former Arizona State mad bomber Sam Keller is at the helm with a speedy, veteran receiving corps to work with. Don't be shocked if the attack becomes one-dimensional at some point this year. That might not be a bad thing.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is about throwing different looks at offenses over the last few years, and while he loses all four starters off a great front four, he has more talent and depth to work with. The strength is in the linebacking corps, where Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon, Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh will control the defense. There's speed to burn in the secondary, but the defensive backs haven't played up to their potential or athleticism over the last few years. This will be one of the Big 12's better defenses, but it still might not be close to the killer of some of the great Husker teams of the past.

Sept. 15 - Army
Offense: Last year, Army used a veteran offensive line to work the running game behind while the passing game struggled. Now it has to be the other way around. The backfield, while banged up in spring ball, is solid, the line will be a work in progress. The passing game needs to improve hoping for top-prospect Carson Williams to turn into the leader and playmaker everyone's expecting him to become, or else David Pevoto has to take over the reins and be consistent. No matter who's under center, the interceptions have to slow down. Jeremy Trimble leads a potentially strong receiving corps.
Defense:
The defense has spent most of its time trying to survive. Now it has to start making big plays in all areas after coming up with just 11 sacks, four interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Everyone at every spot can tackle, motor and toughness is never a problem, talent is always the issue. There's good experience and size up front, Caleb Campbell, when he returns from a knee injury, will be one of the nation's most productive safeties leading a decent secondary, and the linebacking corps, in time, will put up plenty of big tackling numbers once new starters Brian Chmura and Frank Scappaticci get comfortable. Overall, the defense has to do a better job of dictating the action instead of letting things happen and trying to make the play.


Sept. 22 – Maryland
Offense: It's all there for the Terps to be steady, explosive and very, very productive as long as everyone plays as well as they should. This will be one of the four best offenses in the league as long as injuries don't strike up front. The line is full of veterans and should be a rock, but there's no depth. The receiving corps might be the fastest in the ACC and Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore form a tremendous 1-2 rushing punch. It's all there for a big season, but that's what everyone said last year and the Terps were merely average.
Defense:
The defense didn't exactly work last season, but it didn't seem to matter. No one stopped the run, the secondary was average, there weren't enough takeaways, and the 3-4 that was supposed to generate a serious pass rush wasn't even close. The Terps still won nine games helped be the defense coming through when it absolutely had to. This year's group won't be so fortunate and has to be better. The defensive line should be better with end Jeremy Navarre and tackle Dre Moore good enough to hope for All-ACC honors. Erin Henderson leads an athletic linebacking corps that needs experience, but should be good in time. The secondary is a concern, especially the corners hoping for Isaiah Gardner to become a shut-down defender after returning from a shoulder injury.


Oct. 6 – at Duke
Offense: Eleven starters return to an offense that lived through the growing pains of a youth movement in an attempt to take a giant leap forward. New offensive coordinator Peter Vaas, who comes over from Notre Dame, should help make quarterback Thaddeus Lewis more consistent. Helping the overall cause even more is a veteran line that needs to be far better after doing next to nothing well throughout last year. It'll be tailback by committee with several different options to see carries, while the overall strength will be at receiver with several young, big, good-looking targets for Lewis to use to push the ball deeper.
Defense: The defense is still not going to be a rock, but there's promise with several good young players to revolve around. Top prospects Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk are rising stars on the line, while Patrick Bailey is a playmaker who'll be one of the ACC's better pass rushers. Michael Tauiliili is a playmaker at middle linebacker, but the outside linebackers are question marks. Safeties Chris Davis and Adrian Aye-Darko are good, and they'll need to be with major concerns at corner.

Oct. 11 - Florida State
Offense: After a dreadful two seasons, the offense is under new leadership with new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher coming in to breathe life into the nation's 70th ranked attack. Step one is to find some semblance of a running game, and that starts with talented junior Antone Smith getting more carries. The offensive line, problem one over the last few years, gets a big upgrade with the addition of line coach Rick Trickett from West Virginia. He's immediately pushed everyone to get into better shape and to get a lot tougher. The passing game won't be forgotten about, with Fisher wanting to bomb away down the field to Greg Carr and DeCody Fagg. Now a steady quarterback has to emerge between Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee.
Defense: The defense came up with a better year than it got credit for, but it gave up too many points. Now the potential is there for this to be a Florida State defense again with tremendous speed and talent in the secondary and a good enough front seven to come up with a big year. There are question marks. Everette Brown is a good-looking pass rushing end, but he needs help from the other side. The linebacking corps will be special as long as Derek Nicholson and Marcus Ball can quickly return from torn ACLs, otherwise it'll be an undersized group with no depth. As always, there's a slew of NFL talent to work around, highlighted by tackle Andre Fluellen and safety Myron Rolle.

Oct. 20 – at Navy
Offense: Navy led the nation in rushing in 2005, led the nation in rushing in 2006, and will lead the nation in rushing in 2007. What's the difference? The ground game will be terrific as always, but now it'll be truly special with the best combination of backfield talent and experience head coach Paul Johnson has ever had. There won't be any passing game, but it won't matter with a ground attack that can crank out a big run from anywhere on the field. The big concern will be the line with no experience among the backups whatsoever and a shaky starting five if left tackle Josh Meek's injured knee isn't healthy.
Defense:
Uh oh. Wholesale changes need to be made with only three starters and seven lettermen returning. The best defense will be a good offense needing the ground game to crank out long drives to keep this inexperienced, woefully undersized, untested group off the field. Pass rushers need to emerge with the hope for Chris Kuhar-Pitters and Casey Hebert to turn into playmakers around rising star tackle Nate Frazier. Clint Sovie and Irv Spencer will turn into reliable inside linebackers, but outside linebacker will be a question. The secondary will be a work in progress around solid corner Rashawn King.


Oct. 27 - North Carolina
Offense: The offense only cranked out 293 yards and 18 points per game with fits of wild inconsistency. Expect a bit more of the same with a young team still trying to figure out who the starters are going to be, but the overall production should be better. Step one is to determine who the quarterback will be to handle the passing game that'll run three and four wide sets. T.J. Yates was the star of spring ball, but he'll have to hold off star freshman Mike Paulus. There are plenty of good, inexperienced running backs to work with, and Hakeem Nicks is a potential star number one receiver. However, there aren't any certainties in the depth chart quite yet. The line will be serviceable, but nothing special.
Defense:
It might take a year to turn things around after a disastrous 2006, but the young talent is there to get really, really excited. The defensive line has a slew of great prospects to work with, while the back seven has athleticism and quickness by design with a smallish linebacking corps. The return of Trimaine Goddard at safety will be a big help for the secondary, while the hopeful emergence of more pass rushing help for end Hilee Taylor should help the coaching staff implement it's attacking, aggressive style.


Nov. 3 – at Virginia
Offense: Until the receivers prove they can play, it'll be run, run and run some more with mobile quarterback Jameel Sewell and decent backs Cedric Peerman and Keith Payne working behind a much improved, veteran line. The tight ends are excellent, but the receiving corps suffered a nasty blow when it lost leading receiver Kevin Ogletree with a knee injury. Now it'll be up to Sewell, a rising star but an inconsistent passer, to make everyone around him better. Don't expect anything flashy for a while.
Defense: Somewhat quietly, the Virginia defense had a terrific year finishing 17th in the nation in total D and 22nd in scoring D. It should be even better with ten starters returning, including top linemen Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald to anchor the front three. All four starting linebackers are back to form a solid group that doesn't make a whole bunch of mistakes. This might not be the most athletic defense, but it's aggressive and is always around the ball.

Nov. 10 – at Clemson
Offense: Clemson had the ACC's best offense last season, but it didn't get nearly enough from the passing game. Expect more of the same. The 1-2 rushing punch of James Davis and C.J. Spiller is among the best in the country, and while the line loses four starters, there's enough experience and talent up front to pave the way for a big rushing year. The receiving corps has potential, but a quarterback has to emerge to consistently produce. Cullen Harper has the job to start the year, but superstar recruit Willy Korn will likely take over at the first opportunity. No matter who's under center, and despite all the bells, whistles and formations of the Rob Spence offense, it'll be all about the running game.
Defense: As long as the corners are fine, this will be one of the nation's best defenses. The line, even without Gaines Adams, will be amazing, thanks to the emergence of Ricky Sapp and a great rotation of tackles. Assuming Tramaine Billie (broken ankle) and Antonio Clay (family tragedy) are back, the linebacking corps will fly around and make plays all over the filed. The safety situation is one of the ACC's best with Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin (broken foot and all) and DeAndre McDaniel all potential all-stars, and the corners should be decent, at worst.

Nov. 17 - NC State
Offense: This won't be a bombs away attack under Dana Bible, but it could be with a big, fast, experienced receiving corps that should be able to spread the field. The trio of running backs, Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene, should be a major plus, but the line has to be far better and needs to replace the starting tackles. It'll be a three-man race for the starting quarterback job between Daniel Evans, Nebraska transfer Harrison Beck, and Justin Burke, with the one of them needing to be able to move the offense consistently, something that wasn't done this spring. This will be a running offense that will eventually grow into a 50/50 balance.
Defense: This will be a solid defense, but it won't be spectacular. It could be fantastic in 2008 when all the promising young prospects are ready to shine, but for now, this will be a good, sound D that should be far more consistent than last year. Demario Pressley and Martrel Brown lead a strong line that should be the strength, while three senior linebackers will keep the mistakes to a minimum. The secondary has to come up with more big plays after helping the Pack pick off just seven passes.

Nov. 24 – at Vanderbilt
Offense: The offense is loaded with experience with nine starters returning including tackle Brian Stamper, who missed most of last year. The line should be tremendous with five senior starters that know how to pass protect and should be better for the running game. Junior receiver Earl Bennett is one of the nation's most productive playmakers and should finally start to get the attention he deserves. Quarterback Chris Nickson is a dangerous run/pass combination with the potential to grow into a star if he can cut down on his interceptions. The running backs aren't special, but they're experienced.
Defense: Vanderbilt won't have one of the SEC's better defenses, but it'll be far better with seven returning starters and plenty of experience. Most importantly, there are plenty of all-stars to build around. Tackle Theo Horrocks, end Curtis Gatewood, safeties Reshard Langford and Ryan Hamilton, and linebacker Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs are all capable of making All-SEC teams. The cornerbacks have to shine, a second defensive tackle has to take the heat off Horrocks, and the stars have to be stars for a major overall improvement. Coming up with more turnovers would be nice, but just being better in all areas might be enough to dramatically change the record.


 

 
  

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