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Location: Winston-Salem, NC

Nickname: Demon Deacons

Colors:  Old Gold and Black

Division: Atlantic

2006 Record: 11-3

ACC Record: 6-2 (First place Atlantic)

Bowl:  Orange Bowl (lost to Louisville, 24-13)

 

2006 Team Averages (Rankings are ACC)

Offense

Points: 21.6 (7th)

Total Offense: 307.0 (7th)

Rushing Yards: 157.1 (11th)

Passing Yards: 149.9 (3rd)

3rd Down Percentage: 35.1 (6th)

 

Defense

Points: 15.4 (2nd)

Total Defense: 322.5 (9th)

Rushing Defense: 105.8 (6th)

Pass Defense: 216.7 (11th)

 

2006 Team Leaders

Passing

Riley Skinner  171/260  65.8%  2051Yds  9 TD  5 Int

Ben Mauk  14/21  66.7%  103Yds  1 TD  1 Int 

Rushing

Kenneth Moore 105 Att  507 Yds  4.8 Avg   2 TD

Kevin Harris  78 Att  393 Yds  5.0 Avg  6 TD

Receiving

Nate Morton  38 Rec  617 Yds  16.2 Avg  4 TD

Willie Idlette  37 Rec  511 Yds  13.8 Avg  3 TD

 

Defense

Tackles: John Abbate 71 (40 Solo)

Interceptions:  Josh Gattis 5

 

2007 Schedule

9/1    @  Boston College

9/8     Nebraska

9/15     Army

9/20     Maryland

10/6     @ Duke

10/11     Florida State

10/20     @ Navy

10/27  North Carolina

11/3    @ Virginia

11/10     @ Clemson

11/17 NC State

11/24     @ Vandy

 

Introduction

In taking a team that didn't score much (7th in the Conference), gave up a lot of yards (9th), was down to a backup quarterback after highly-touted Ben Mauk was injured in the season opener and had the smallest enrollment of any BCS-conference school to BCS Bowl for the first time in the program's 119-year history, sixth-year coach Jim Grobe justified his landslide AP Coach-of-the-Year victory. Riley Skinner's emergence as a poised, accurate signal-caller was a welcome surprise in DeaconLand as Wake Forest became the feel-good story of the year in college football (until Boise State pulled out every trick play in the book to beat Oklahoma, that is...)

Offensive Outlook

While not statistically superior in any category, the Deacon offense was sharp and efficient last year, riding a physical offensive line and the calm presence of Skinner to 11 wins, most notably a 30-0 rout of Florida State that was the ‘Noles first shutout in Tallahassee in the Bobby Bowden era. While Skinner does not dazzle opposing front-sevens with his footwork, his accuracy and poise are a nice complement to an opportunistic ground game. Look for the Deacons to continue to work that same formula this year, with four returning starters on the offensive line, leading rusher Kenneth Moore returning and an other year of experience in the books for Skinner, a sophomore.

Defensive Outlook 

There is significant attrition on defense, with the entire secondary graduating. What this means to Deacon opponents is an even greater emphasis on rushing the quarterback, as defensive coordinator Dean Hood will try to take heat off the secondary by forcing opposing quarterbacks into quick throws or checkdowns. It's unlikely the Deacons will duplicate last year's gaudy +18 turnover ratio, which ranked them second in the ACC and sixth in the NCAA.

Schedule

No Georgia Tech, Miami or Virginia Tech translates into a very favorable ACC schedule. We should have a good handle on how good this team is by the middle of October, by which time the Deacons will have faced top-25 foes Nebraska and Florida State, as well as Boston College and Maryland. With an out-of-conference schedule featuring Nebraska, Army, Navy (a trap game if there ever was one) and Vanderbilt on the road, the Deacons should have the strength-of-schedule to silence any doubters if they duplicate last year's run. It cannot be stressed enough what an enormous opportunity the September 1 home game against  Nebraska represents for this program to gain exposure and build upon last year's miracle season.

In a nutshell

Can they shock the world again? Most likely, a questionable pass defense and tougher schedule say no. But, with their talent and coaching, Wake Forest will likely be favored or a pick-em in as many as eight games, and if Skinner can replicate last year's magic and the secondary gels quickly, contention for another Atlantic Division title isn't entirely out of the question. More realistically, Wake Forest fans can probably look forward to seven or eight wins and a moderate bowl game.

 

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