Coming off of a three win season in 2010, not many knew what to expect from the Demon Deacons this year. In our pre-season preview, Blogger So Dear projected five wins and said that six wins would be considered a success. After losing a heart-breaker in their opener against Syracuse, Wake Forest rebounded to win four straight including an upset over pre-season heartthrob Florida State. From there the going got tough as Wake lost four of it’s next five with all of the losses coming to teams that would end the season playing in bowl games. Wake finished the regular season on an up and down note beating a disappointing Maryland team to become bowl eligible but then got blown out by a surprisingly tough Vandy team. Wake did finish at 6-7 after a loss to Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl but I think a three game improvement has to be considered a success for this team. Despite losing their leading WR Chris Givens to the NFL, Wake has some talent coming back in Tanner Price, Michael Campanaro and Josh Harris on the offensive side of the football. It will be interesting to see if Wake can continue it’s upward movement next season in the ACC. To get a local perspective on the Demon Deacons 2011, Martin Rickman of Blogger So Dear answered some of our questions.
CFBZ: Wake started out 4-1 but faded down the stretch losing six of their last 8. What were the major factors behind the poor finish to the season?
Blogger So Dear: Depth and an inconsistent running game. Defensively, the team could not hold up in sustained minutes and faded in the second half with regularity. On offense, the line play was average at best and the lack of a home run threat (due to Josh Harris’s injury) allowed teams to stack the box, which hurt Tanner Price’s effectiveness.
CFBZ: Wake really struggled outside of the ACC going 0-4 against FBS opponents. Why did they struggle so much out of conference?
Blogger So Dear: It wasn’t so much “struggling” as just not taking advantage of opportunities. Wake should have beaten Syracuse at Syracuse in the first game of the season, but squandered a lead and lost in OT. The Deacs had Notre Dame right where they wanted them.
The Vanderbilt game was on Thanksgiving break, Wake was already bowl eligible and had nothing to play for (they were essentially locked into Shreveport at that point before the Sugar took VT and toppled the bowl order), while Vandy was playing to make get to the postseason.
And the bowl game was also winnable.
It’s frustrating to come up empty, but it is promising that it isn’t for a reason like talent differential.
CFBZ: If you could have a “do over” for any game which would it be?
Blogger So Dear: Wow, which one to pick…The bowl? Nah. Syracuse, eh, not important enough. Notre Dame, now we’re talking. Oh wait, yeah, that’s it: Clemson. Wake would have been in the ACC title game if they had closed the door on the Tigers in Death Valley like they should have. Of any game I want back, that’s the one.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Blogger So Dear: The feeling of missed opportunities. This team was so close in so many games. Had things gone differently, there could have been up to nine or ten wins on the schedule. That seemed completely inconceivable coming into this year with the schedule that Wake had.
CFBZ: What do you see as the biggest opportunities for Wake going into the off-season?
Blogger So Dear: This young team tasted a bowl, had a lot of disappointments and played toe to toe with a bunch of big name teams. This isn’t a little program. It’s a team that can and should be competitive and make a bowl game next year. It will come down to the same problems that plagued the team down the stretch: the running game, o-line play and defensive intensity. With trouble and uncertainty lies upside; and it will be exciting to see if the team can answer the call and continue to grow.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
Pac-12- Oregon State Beavers