Virginia Tech (2nd)
Georgia Tech (3rd)
N.C. State (6th)
2006 Wake Forest Preview & Prediction:
2005 RECORD: 4-7 overall, 3-5 ACC (T-4th in Atlantic).
HEAD COACH: Jim Grobe, 59-65-1 overall in 10 seasons; 26-32 in five seasons at Wake Forest.
KEY ADDITIONS: RB Josh Adams, RB Lucas Campbell, LB Hunter Haynes, LB Matthew Woodlief, TE Dennis Godfrey, RB Marcus Williams.
KEY LOSSES: RB Chris Barclay, QB Cory Randolph, OT Wesley Bryant, DT Goryal Scales, P Ryan Placekemeier.
OFFENSE: Quarterback Ben Mauk began the 2005 season as the starter, but it was such a disaster that 2004 starter Cory Randolph, who had been moved to wide receiver, replaced him. This time, there isn't a fallback if Mauk fails. Everyone knows the Demon Deacons will be a very good running team, especially with the return of tailback Micah Andrews, who rushed for 621 yards on just 110 carries last season. The offensive line is also stellar, with four starters returning that helped produce the ACC Offensive Player of the Year last season in tailback Chris Barclay.
The receiving corps is average without a lot of big-play potential. But that's not Wake Forest's mantra. It prefers to grind it out and use the clock as its ally. However, in order to make a run toward a bowl berth, Mauk has to be successful.
DEFENSE: There's plenty of experience on defense, but it all starts and ends with the defensive line. The Deacs have to have Matt Robinson (broken kneecap), Jeremy Thompson (torn ACL) and Zach Stukes (shoulder) all return to full strength and put pressure on the opposing quarterback.
Junior linebacker John Abbate, who has 177 career tackles, leads the defense. His fellow linebackers are pretty good, too. However, it's the secondary that is the major concern for Wake Forest. While it's loaded with experience, three starting seniors, that's not necessarily a good thing considering it's the same group that was the worst passing defense in the ACC last season.
It was so bad that it gave up nearly three touchdown passes in each of the last six games. Any sort of improvement will go a long way to helping the Deacs reaching the hopes of a making a bowl.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – Number of ACC wins Jim Grobe needs to tie Bill Dooley on the school's all-time league win list with 14.
WHAT TO WATCH: The season for Wake Forest hinges on their first four games, which includes Syracuse, Duke, Connecticut and Mississippi. If the Deacs only win one of those games, it will be another year of having to play the role of a spoiler instead of a bowl contender.
PREDICTION: 6-6 overall, 3-5 ACC (5th in Atlantic).
RB Micah Andrews
Head coach Jim Grobe
QB Ben Mauk