Part of an abbreviated Wake Forest preview week
As part of our Wake Forest preview, I sat down with Riley Johnston of the SBN Wake Forest blog Bloggers So Dear to find out more about this year's Demon Deacons football team.
BC Interruption: Last year was a tough year for Wake Forest and their fans. Will this year be any different?
Bloggers So Dear: Well let's put it this way: we sure as hell can't get much worse. We had a very, very young defense last year, particularly in the secondary. When you have youth and inexperience in such an important sector then it is not very surprising that you are going to give up a ton of yards and points. That is exactly what we did in many games. Both sides of the ball should be very much improved with another year under their belt. In terms of record it is really hard to say how we will do because of the difficult schedule we have next year. At home alone, Wake faces Notre Dame, FSU, Virginia Tech and N.C. State. I think we will improve by one or two games in the standings, but will be a much better team.
BCI: Tanner Price and Chase Rettig were both freshman QB's in the ACC last season and put up eerily similar numbers. Who do you think will have a bigger 2011 season?
BSD: Both of our QB's were really thrown into the fire without a lot of support last year. Boston College at least had a formidable defense to protect the quarterback with in terms of keeping the scoring low. Not to mention one of the best running backs in the country in Montel Harris, who could put up Heisman like numbers. I think that Tanner Price is going to be a great QB for us going forward (assuming he doesn't lose his starting spot to Kevin Sousa in a year), but next year he will likely see some more growing pains. It will help that our offensive line is bigger and better to protect him in the pocket, but that can only go so far. I have heard that Price is putting himself through some grueling workouts to get better, and if that is the case then it should pay off a good amount. I think that Rettig will be more of a game manager for BC, while Price will be called on a little more for Wake Forest. Since they are going to be asked to do different things it is hard to say who will have the "bigger" year, but I expect Price will have the better numbers, while Rettig manages games better.
BCI: Boston College had the 109th ranked offense last year, and Wake Forest had the 110th ranked defense. Looking at this year's matchup, what force of mediocrity will prevail? Who do you have winning it?
BSD: At this point I have very little idea what to expect for Wake Forest. BC is definitely a game that is in our "toss-up" category. I think it comes down to how well our rush defense is. If we are giving up 100 yards a game on the ground, then Harris is going to eat us alive. Hell he will probably tear us apart no matter what we do. If we can force Rettig to beat us and make the big passes when it matters then I think we have a fair chance. I don't know a lot about BC and how their defense is supposed to be, but I would take a guess and say that y'all have the advantage in that sector. At this point I will say that Boston College is probably the favorite by a touchdown or so, but I will revise that when we talk again before the game.
BCI: Who will turn it around first -- Wake Forest basketball or football?
BSD: I have to say Wake Forest football. Both programs are on the rise (they have to be haha), and after last year the fans are really impatient with the entire administration. Coach Grobe seems to have the parts in place to make another run at the upper echelon of the ACC in the next couple of years. We are recruiting a lot better, have some fantastic athletes on both sides of the ball, and our coaching staff knows what it takes to be competitive and put us in a place to win. In basketball nearly everything is a huge question mark. We were the worst team in the history of the ACC record wise last year. I think we will improve by 6-7 games next year (so 13-14 wins total), and maybe 4-5 wins in the ACC. That is certainly not good, but it is considerable improvement over the monstrosity of a season that was last year. A lot will depend on the recruiting class that we have coming in in 2012. If they prove to be game changers then we might be back in the NCAA in 3 years. I think we can make a bowl in football in 2 years, so I'm going with our football team.
BCI: Last one. Wake Forest only managed one win in the ACC last year. What will Wake Forest fans consider a successful 2011 season?
BSD: On the whole, most people want us to make a bowl game. I think that is a bit unrealistic given our schedule and really only 2-3 games that we "should win" (right now Gardner Webb, Duke, and Vanderbilt). There are a few tossup games too with Boston College, N.C. State, Maryland and Syracuse, but there are also a lot of games that are probably unlikely wins: North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Notre Dame and Clemson. If we can go 2-2 in those toss-up games, it would put us in a good position to steal one in the last group. That being said, if we beat Notre Dame then I think we would all be happy. Everybody is recognizing this as our best home slate ever at Groves Stadium, and the ticket sales reflect that. There should be some fantastic games this year and I am really looking forward to it. I guess the bottom line would be 6 wins to make people happy, but if we can steal a win or two against UNC, VT, FSU and Notre Dame, that would make a lot of people pretty happy.
You can read more about Wake Forest from Riley and the other talented guys at Blogger So Dear. Make sure to follow RJ on Twitter as well.