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ACC preview: Wake Forest

The SportsXchange

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Demon Deacons are anxious about putting the pieces back together after a late-season collapse last season.

The motivation is in place.

"That's the main goal, we've got to get wins," receiver Michael Campanaro said. "All the stats don't mean anything if we can't win games."

There were too many problems to solve at the end of last year, but coach Jim Grobe said there's a better feeling about the Demon Deacons leading into 2013.

"Last year, we were 5-7," Grobe said. "We shouldn't have been. We were better than 5-7. ... I don't think there was as much grumbling from Wake Forest fans as there was from the coaches and players."

So while they sorted out some internal issues, there are bound to be other more visible elements on display for the Demon Deacons in the 2013 season. The offense has turned stale, so a rushing attack with some teeth in it is one remedy.

That means more players are going to be involved in the ground game.

"We want to run (quarterback) Tanner (Price) more," Grobe said. "We have to be serious about Tanner in the run game other than just handing the ball off."

This figures to alleviate some attention on Campanaro, the Deacons' do-everything receiver.

A stronger offense should put the Demon Deacons in better shape in several areas. A move-the-chains mentality would take pressure off a defense that will need to prove that it's up to the task against quality opponents.

SPOTLIGHT ON SEPTEMBER: Wake Forest has to win enough of the games against teams that look similar to them, and there are a couple of those matchups early on the schedule. There's an ACC game on the docket for Wake Forest's second game overall, with the trip at Boston College perhaps giving an indication of how the season might go. The following week, Wake Forest has a first-ever matchup with visiting Louisiana-Monroe, which pulled an upset of Arkansas last season. And by the end of the month, there's a trip to Clemson. So by playing two Atlantic Division opponents on the road before October, there's a chance to make good with home games later on the schedule if the Demon Deacons can prosper to some degree early on.

KEYS TO SUCCESS: The Demon Deacons need to follow through on their pledge to run the ball effectively. This would return the program to its more comfortable roots, plus it should allow some more openings downfield if opponents have to respect the rushing attack again. QB Tanner Price needs a solid season after an uneven performance in 2012. The defense became pushovers by the end of last season, so showing more backbone is one of the requirements for this team. There needs to be some confidence building early in the season for a team that lost four of its last five games -- with all the defeats coming by at least 29 points.

AREAS OF CONCERN: The offensive line is largely revamped, and that means lots of attention will fall on that unit. But the linebacker situation could be more in flux because coach Jim Grobe said that true freshmen could figure into the mix there. "If you're a true freshman linebacker right now at Wake Forest, you ought to be real excited or real nervous," Grobe said. Just that notion that the Demon Deacons might have to go with such inexperience at that position (most likely at outside linebacker) is bound to make Grobe queasy. The experience will come from Justin Jackson. The good thing is that the defensive front appears in good order.

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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