Spring Practice Primer: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Jim Grobe leads Wake Forest into spring practice after a disappointing 5-7 finish in 2012.
College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice began: March 19
Spring game: April 20
2012 record: 5-7 overall, 3-5 ACC
Returning starters: 16 (eight offense, eight defense)
The Least You Should Know about Wake Forest This Spring
-- The Demon Deacons want to be more multiple offensively. Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe says the team was "spoiled" by the passing ability of former quarterback Riley Skinner. Three-year starter Tanner Price has a strong arm and plenty of experience, but injuries and depth issues in 2012 made protecting the quarterback an issue for the Demon Deacons. Grobe said the staff "put all of our eggs in one basket as far as throwing the football," and when protection became an issue the offense stalled. One way the offense will become more multiple in 2013 is the installation of more quarterback runs. Price will have an opportunity to carry the ball in both option and pre-determined run plays this spring, while the staff works to rebuild the depth they lost along the offensive line. Tackles Steven Chase and Antonio Ford are out for spring practice, and Colin Summers (starter at right tackle in all 12 games last season) is out indefinitely dealing with a blood clot issue. Right guard Frank Souza and tackle Dylan Intemann have the most experience on the line, but developing a solid rotation is the first step to jump-starting the offense in 2013.
-- Michael Campanaro needs a wing man. Senior wide receiver Michael Campanaro ranked among the nation's leaders in receptions per game (7.9) and could have challenged several single-season records if not for a midseason hand injury. Campanaro is a multi-purpose threat on his own, but the Demon Deacons are better off when opposing defenses can't zone in on the shifty wide receiver. His 2012 campaign was impressive, but he was arguably more effective playing alongside Chris Givens in 2011. If Wake Forest can develop one more go-to guy at wide receiver or running back it could draw some attention away from Campanaro, allowing him to move around and capitalize on matchup advantages. Campanaro is out for spring practice, so there should be plenty of reps for wide receivers who want to make an impression. Running back Orville Reynolds has gotten some early compliments for his work at the slot receiver position, but keep your eye on wide receivers Sherman Ragland and Brandon Terry as well. Running backs Josh Harris and DeAndre Martin are both back after a disappointing 2012, combining for just over 100 rushing yards per game. The Demon Deacons will likely run a committee-style approach again in 2013, but spring could be an opportunity for Martin, a rising sophomore, to impress the staff and challenge Harris for the starter's job.
-- Improvement is a primary concern for the secondary. The defensive backfield must improve for Wake Forest to bounce back in 2013. Lack of depth was an issue all over the field last season, but the weakness in the secondary resulted in one of the ACC's worst pass defenses. The Demon Deacons ranked 11th of out 12 ACC teams in opponents' completion percentage (62.0) and yards per attempt (7.8), while giving up 266.8 yards per game through the air. When healthy -- and not facing any disciplinary action -- the pieces are in place for a strong unit. Cornerback Merrill Noel earned All-ACC honors as a freshman in 2011, while safety A.J. Marshall and cornerback Kevin Johnson provide the experience of starting every game in 2012. Redshirt freshmen safeties Dominique Gibson and Ryan Janvion were unable to help last season but have a year of experience and should compete for the open starting job. Senior safety Duran Lowe was suspended for a violation of team rules last season, but he is participating with the team in spring practice. If Lowe can get out of Grobe's doghouse, expect him to make a run at the starting job as well.
-- Will any of the redshirt freshman make an immediate impact? When Wake Forest's injury report began to grow as the season hit the home stretch, the coaching staff was handcuffed by the decision to redshirt several freshmen from the 2012 class. Grobe understood that there were depth issues late in the season, but it was not worth burning a year of eligibility to get them in the game. Defensive end Josh Banks and outside linebacker Kevis Jones were two redshirt freshmen Grobe has singled out to watch this spring, along with the aforementioned safety Ryan Janvion. Wake Forest will be missing several expected starters due to injury this spring, so the staff will be looking for young players to fill out the depth chart.
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