Growing pains were expected, considering the Wake Forest Demon Deacons had to replace the most winning quarterback in school history, but even coach Jim Grobe and his staff probably didn’t expect it to be quite so painful.
Wake Forest won its first two games and then tumbled into the season finale at Vanderbilt riding a nine-game losing streak. There is a myriad of reasons for the problems, but it started at quarterback when injuries to Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones changed the offense and the course of the season. The Deacs were forced to turn to true freshman Tanner Price, and while he has given the staff reasons to be confident moving forward, he wasn’t ready to start his career with back-to-back road trips at Stanford and Florida State.
Statistically, Wake Forest was one of the worst teams in the country in nearly every major offensive and defensive category, but one of the most troubling was the 110th ranked scoring defense, which allowed 35.83 points per game. It couldn’t get off the field, and the offense couldn’t stay on.
A lack of fourth and fifth-year seniors forced Grobe to play more young players than he would have liked, but that experience should only help in the future.
Offensive MVP: Running back Josh Harris. He led the team with 720 yards rushing including 241 at Virginia Tech and 138 at Vanderbilt. He had a team-high seven rushing touchdowns and 65.5 yards per game.
Defensive MVP: Linebacker Hunter Haynes. He was the Deacs’ most consistent defender and led the team with 77 tackles. He also had 6.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks.
Turning point: The 28-27 loss to Navy was so disheartening to the Deacs they might have let it beat them more than once. For the second straight week, Wake had lost to a triple option team with less than 30 seconds left to play. This loss decreased the program’s chances of getting to a bowl game, and sunk the Deacs to 2-4 with back-to-back road trips to Virginia Tech and Maryland looming.
What’s next: Wake Forest can take some positive momentum from its win over Vanderbilt into the offseason, but in the bigger picture, the program needs to rebuild the depth that has afforded Grobe the luxury of redshirting almost every player who comes into the program. The staff needs to finish this recruiting class strong and continue to develop the younger players who were forced to help early this year.