ACC: Mississippi Rebels
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
1. Can Wake Forest improve upon last year's nine-win season?
It's not going to be easy, and it's the first half of the schedule that's the most daunting. Baylor's been at the bottom of the Big 12 and has another new coach, but the best thing the Bears will have going for them on Aug. 28 is home field advantage. Mississippi is a tough game to call -- Houston Nutt knows what it takes to win in the SEC, but he took over a program that had four straight losing seasons. In order for Wake Forest to better its 2007 mark, it would appear wins against Clemson and at Maryland would be the key.
2. How will long will it take Trey Bailey to step out of Steve Justice's shadow?
Jim Grobe said he's "semi-comfortable" with Bailey at center right now. Bailey had a good spring, but the Demon Deacons got spoiled with Justice because he never committed any turnovers. Whether or not the snaps were out of the shotgun, Justice handled the ball well. Bailey has the intangibles -- the grit, the work ethic, and is often the dirtiest player coming off the field. The biggest issue is game experience, which can only come with time.
3. With only five starters returning on offense, who will be the Deacons' playmakers?
The guys on defense. Wake's entire secondary is back, including star corner Alphonso Smith. They've also got linebacker Aaron Curry, who led the nation in interception return yards last season. That's not to say running back Josh Adams -- the ACC's 2007 Rookie of the Year -- won't have another outstanding season, or that tight end Ben Wooster won't build upon his spring success, but Wake's defense accounted for a few touchdowns last year, too. Nine starters return to a defense that led the nation in defensive touchdowns last year. And those are the guys who are back.