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Wake Forest season review

12/15/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Expectations were high for the Demon Deacons, who were picked to finish second in the division because of their veteran defense and experienced quarterback. The struggles on the offensive line were underestimated, though, and that made it tough for Wake to get its running game going. It didn't help that center Trey Bailey missed half the season with a broken ankle. Offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke tried a spread offense to best utilize the strengths of Riley Skinner, and while they were able to move the ball, it didn't always translate into touchdowns. The pass protection wasn't always there, and the receivers dropped too many would-be first downs, especially during the month of October.

The staff then switched to a run-based offense against Miami, and that didn't work, either. In the end, they sought for a more balanced offense. The Demon Deacons sorely missed placekicker Sam Swank, who pulled his right quadriceps and missed a majority of the season. Still, coach Jim Grobe has had most of his success winning with defense and special teams, and this year was no exception. The Deacs had 35 takeaways this season, which ranks second nationally. Although it missed its shot at winning the Atlantic Division, Wake Forest has now strung together three straight winning seasons for the first time since 1950-52.

Offensive MVP
Wide receiver D.J. Boldin. He led the ACC with 6.42 receptions per game and was second with 65.2 receiving yards per game. His team-high eight catches in the season finale against Vanderbilt increased his career total to 103.

Defensive MVP
Linebacker Aaron Curry. He earned the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker after finishing the season with a team-high 101 tackles and 15 tackles for loss. He had three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, and an interception.

Turning point
The loss to Atlantic Division opponent NC State essentially eliminated the Demon Deacons from ACC championship game picture. Wake couldn't bounce back the following week in a must-win game against Boston College and was forced to settle for a tie for third place in the division.

What's next
Wake Forest will face Navy for the second time this season when the teams kickoff the bowl season in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl on Saturday. Wake lost to Navy, 24-17, on Sept. 27. Navy's defense hasn't allowed one point over the past eight quarters.