Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Midseason report: Wake Forest
By Matt Fortuna
Just when you thought they were out ... they pulled you back in.
That may, in some way, be the theme for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons through six games. They lost consecutive contests to Boston College and Louisiana-Monroe to fall to 1-2 ... then redeemed themselves with a 25-11 win at Army. They were routed from start to finish by No. 3 Clemson in a 56-7 defeat ... then upset NC State, 28-13, a week later.
So here they are at the half-way point of the season, sporting a 3-3 record as they ready for a home game Saturday against a Maryland team that suddenly looks a lot more vulnerable these past two weeks after its 4-0 start. Bowl eligibility is the goal again for the Demon Deacons, who did themselves no favors by not taking care of business in the early part of nonconference play against the Warhawks and who will close their season Nov. 30 at Vanderbilt. In between are five straight ACC games for a team currently at 1-2 in the conference.
Wake Forest must try to find some traction in its running game, as the Deacs rank 13th in the ACC in rushing, in yards per rush and in rushing touchdowns. It has taken away from what have been a solid passing game and a solid overall defense, one that ranks 34th nationally in scoring and 29th nationally in yards per play. The defense has been opportunistic in forcing 13 turnovers -- 25th nationally -- but seven lost fumbles has the Deacs at just plus-two in the turnover margin, a battle they are going to need to win more often if they want to get back to postseason play for the second time in three years.
Offensive MVP: Michael Campanaro, WR. The senior leads the ACC in receptions per game (8.8) and receiving yards per game (116.4). He has four touchdowns, too, and his 206 career receptions leave him just 11 shy of becoming the program's all-time leader.
Defensive MVP: Nikita Whitlock, NT. Another senior, Whitlock is third in the ACC in tackles for loss, with 11.5 -- five of which have gone for sacks, which ranks him seventh in the conference. He has forced two fumbles, four quarterback hurries, is third on the team with 40 total tackles so far and has a blocked kick as well.