Brock's Bytes: ACC Preview- #7 Wake Forest

I am a huge fan of Jim Grobe. In fact, I am such a fan of Jim Grobe that he is the only reason that I put the Demon Deacons in the #7 spot and not Georgia Tech or even Duke.

On the national stage, Grobe may the most under-appreciated Head Coach in America. I hope that he stays at Wake Forest for a long time as it only makes the ACC better.

In just Grobe's second year, the Deacons demolished the Oregon Ducks 38-17 in last year's Seattle Bowl. It isn't like Grobe inherited a bunch of talent; don't forget….the reason he got the job was because Wake sucked. But, in less than 24 months, Grobe was able to crush an Oregon program that emphasizes football to the point of paying for billboards in Manhattan to promote their players for the Heisman. Better yet, the Deacs were able to come out the victor in the battle between the two teams with the ugliest uniforms in all of college football!!

The Demon Deacons led the ACC in total offense last year, also leading the league in rushing while using the "flexbone" offense that I swear was called the "T Formation" while serving as the backbone of Jim Brett's Tarboro High School football dynasty of the 1980s. Grobe claims that the offense compensates for Wake's lack of talent; who can argue with him after he has achieved two consecutive winning seasons after inheriting a 2-9 team in 2000? But, this year's Demon Deacons have to replace 8 offensive starters, including quarterback James MacPherson... and MacPherson wasn't that good. If this year's QB, Cory Randolph wasn't good enough to unseat MacPherson last year, then he's got a lot to prove before he gains the respect of ACC secondaries.

The problem with the Wake offense is its one-dimensional nature. If you can stop the run, then you can stop Wake. It's just that simple. Create the 3rd down and long, and you should create a win. This may change with the signing of high school All-American, Ben Mauk, who now resides in Winston-Salem. But Grobe, in a move that indicates his long term commitment to Wake, has chosen to redshirt Mauk this season. So, it won't change this season.

Oh yea….in addition to all the new faces on the field, did I mention that the Deacs are breaking in a new offensive coordinator?

WELLMAN'S WONDERS: Wake Forest Athletics Director, Ron Wellman, deserves an A+ in "coach-management" over the few years. Not only was Wellman able to identify and hire Grobe, but he smoothly and suavely nudged the most successful basketball coach in Wake Forest history out of the program without even the hint of controversy or public relations ripple.

Wellman replaced the successful Odom, who Wellman felt had plateaued the program, before the losing and cycle of mediocrity was able to lower the expectations and standards of the program. Wellman's proactivity also avoided a prolonged timeframe of Wake supporters arguing debating the merits of Odom, instead focusing on their new savior who delivered the Deacs a first place finish in the ACC with the snap of his fingers. That is called kahunas, foresight, and proactive management.

Grobe and Prosser give the Deacs the best 2nd best set of coaches in the entire league behind Gary Williams and Ralph Friedgen at Maryland. How is that for the school with perhaps the most limited overall resources in the ACC?

BOWL? Nope. Too much fire-power at the top of the ACC for the Deacs to steal any games there. Plus, they have to travel to Duke & UNC-CH. Maybe they grab two from Georgia Tech and Clemson in Winston. But, the Deacs could just as easily finish last in the conference than 7th.

WHEN THE PACK ATTACKS: Want to see one of the 101 places where Chuck Amato immediately differentiated himself from the performance of his predecessor, Mike ‘O Cain? Look no further than our series with Wake Forest.

After going 10-1 against the Deacons from 1986-1996, and taking nine in a row from 1988-1996…O'Cain's Wolfpack program suddenly was struggling with the lowly Demon Deacons. This was the Jim Caldwell Demon Deacons, who was fired for not being any good! O'Cain went 1-2 against the Deacs in his last 3 seasons….including a 31-7 embarrassment with an offense that included Jamie Barnette as a senior. Enter Amato. I recall this to remind you of the very large contingent of fans who denounced the firing of O'Cain as a tremendous mistake. Can't help but chuckle at the fans who stated that, "nobody could do better with what we have to work with"…as if Wake packed in 100,000 fans into their big, bright, new stadium. (chuckle, chuckle) [pun intended].

The Pack gets a break on the schedule by getting the young Deacons so early. Wake's option offense should have a lot of kinks to be corrected with a new QB, FB, & TB still learning the new offensive coordinator's system. Undersized defensive backs should give the large Wolfpack receivers - Jerricho Cotchery, Richard Washington, and Brian Clark – plenty of opportunity to exploit their physical presence. Altogether, the Pack should have way too much fire power.

The risk is obvious – overlooking the Demon Deacons for the National Champion, Ohio State Buckeyes that loom the following week. There is another risk to the Wolfpack's season - Injury. Since Grobe's arrival, ACC opponents have been less than pleased with the Demon Deacons blocking methods and the disproportionate amount of injuries that occur while play Wake.

I'm going with the Pack by 20. It could be more if Wake ever threw the ball, but I expect the clock to roll continuously and our young defensive line to learn a few lessons while (hopefully) avoiding some injuries.

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