|Coach Jim Grobe and Wake Forest have endured four straight losing seasons. (US Presswire)|
Wake Forest (5-7, 3-5 ACC)
Expectations: Wake Forest was picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Division -- and that is exactly where the Demon Deacons finished. Coach Jim Grobe led Wake Forest to three straight bowl games from 2006-08, but this is the fourth consecutive losing season for him in Winston-Salem. The season started off well, as Wake Forest won three of its first four games, including a 28-27 home win over North Carolina. That start could not be sustained, with the Demon Deacons dropping six of their final eight games. The final four losses all came by at least 29 points.
What went wrong: Off the field, Wake Forest had to deal with multiple suspensions, injuries, and program turmoil. On the field, the Demon Deacons were bad on both sides of the ball. They finished dead last in the ACC in scoring offense (18.5 points per game) and next to last in scoring defense (31.8 ppg). Wake Forest was not competitive in its three toughest games of the season against Florida State, Clemson and Notre Dame, losing by a combined score of 132-13.
When it went wrong: On Oct. 5, Grobe announced the suspension of six players for the following day's game at Maryland. On Oct. 6, the Demon Deacons lost 19-14 to the Terrapins. The announcement of the suspensions was the beginning of the end for Wake Forest, as the team managed to win just two more games the rest of the way.
Biggest overall disappointment: The offense was dreadful, and QB Tanner Price regressed during his junior season. Price attempted just 12 fewer passes this year compared to 2011, but he threw for 717 fewer yards, eight fewer touchdowns, and one more interception in 2012. Granted, he lost top WR Chris Givens early to the NFL and dealt with plenty of injuries along the offensive line, but the Demon Deacons were last in the league with a passing efficiency of 110.1.
Bright spots: WR Michael Campanaro finished tied for eighth nationally with 7.9 receptions per game. Despite missing two games, he still led the ACC with 79 catches. CB Kevin Johnson finished second in the league with 18 passes defended.
Why it will be better in 2013: Grobe will have a senior class that has a lot of experience in Price, Campanaro, NT Nikita Whitlock, and RB Josh Harris. That has been the formula for success at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will never finish near the top of the conference in the Signing Day recruiting class rankings. Grobe has to coach up his players and allow them to develop during their four or five years at Wake Forest.
Why it might not: There were some major issues in the program this year that led to some of the players airing their grievances to Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal. "You can't lose three or four games the way we lost them -- and I don't have to mention them -- and it be just be a players thing or a coaches thing,'' Whitlock told Collins. “It's a whole team thing, all the way from the top with Coach Grobe and maybe [athletic director] Ron Wellman all the way to the bottom. Football is about effort. We need to make some changes to get better.'' If these issues are not ironed out, the Demon Deacons could have another long year in 2013.
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