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July 18, 2013

Wake Forest football schedule preview: part I

Wake Forest will kick off the 2013 season in 42 days.

Head coach Jim Grobe, who is entering 13th season at Wake, will seek to lead the Demon Deacons to their first winning season since 2008 and to a bowl berth after missing out on the post-season in 2012.

The Deacs will play a 12-game (six home games and six away games) regular season schedule.

Deacons Illustrated compiled previews from writers that cover each team on Wake Forest's schedule.

Here is a rundown of the first six opponents …

Presbyterian, (home) Thursday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 PM EST on ESPN3

The Blue Hose finished with a 2-9 record last season.

By Presbyterian Sports Information Director Simon Whitaker

Offense …

Kaleb Griffin and Tamyn Garrick will fight for the starting QB spot this pre-season. Five starters from the offensive line return with James Festa leading the pack. Jeremiah McKie and Arthur Williams return in the WR spot. Williams was second on the team in receptions, McKie fourth. Although not a starter, Demarcus Rouse should see a lot of playing time. He has been mainly used for short yardage gains and was second on the team in carries. He scored nine TDs to lead the team in scoring, most of those coming against Brevard and Charleston where he posted three TDs each. Those are really the only offensive guys to talk about. There are several others who will see improved playing time but none that I think will be stand-out performers.

Defense …

Donelle Williams, L.J. Perry and Isaiah Lynn are returning linebackers and will be looked upon heavily on defense. Williams led the team with 103 tackles, while Lynn was fifth with 52 and Perry second (64 tackles). We have three returning starters in Keyadd Miller (DE), Joshua Polk (DE) and Parrish Walker (DT) as well. At safety you have Cedric Byrd (third on the team in tackles), who also handles most of the punt returns (12 of 16 last season). He also recorded seven kick returns, so look for him to continue that trend. Again, several other defensive returners that aren't starters who will see a lot of time, but not a lot of impact.

We are also new in the punter and kicker position. Stephen Doar punted for part of a game last season, and did a good job.

New defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler, who was at La. Tech the last few seasons, was the head coach at PC in the mid 2000's. He should spark a defense that struggled the last couple of seasons.

Boston College, (away) Friday, Sept. 6 at 8:00 PM EST on ESPN2
The Eagles finished with a 2-10 (3-5 ACC) record last season.

By EagleAction.com senior writer Eric Hoffses

Offense …

The Eagles will be moving to a more run-based offense under new offensive coordinator Ryan Day. Don't expect BC to give up on the passing game altogether though. The player with the best pro potential is senior quarterback Chase Rettig. At 6'3", 215 pounds, the California signal caller has the size and arm strength to be a NFL quarterback. The question is if Rettig has enough weapons to showcase his talents. BC returns only 2 of its top 5 receivers from a year ago. Luckily one of the returners is 1st team All-ACC wide receiver, Alex Amidon. Last year, Amidon set school records for receptions (78) and receiving yards (1,210). Rettig and Amidon should be one of the best combinations in the ACC.

Defense …

The Eagles don't return a lot of star players on defense this year. The team will rely heavily on linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis to live up to his potential. KPL showed signs of dominance as a freshman and sophomore, but his level of play didn't go up by much if any from last year. Injuries were certainly a factor, but the Eagles need more from KPL. The linebacker has the size, strength, and speed to be a dominating all down linebacker.

New defensive coordinator Don Brown will be implementing a much more aggressive defensive scheme than what the Eagles used under Frank Spaziani for the past decade-plus.

Louisiana-Monroe, (home) Saturday, Sept. 14 at 12:30 PM EST on ESPN3
The Warhawks finished with an 8-5 (6-2 Sun Belt) record last season.

By WarhawkReport.com Publisher Dusty Thibodeaux

Offense …

Picked atop the Sun Belt Conference, the ULM Warhawks have the expectations to have another winning season in 2013. Just how high the Warhawks will fly though depends on the health of conference preseason player of the year, Kolton Browning. Browning is approaching several additional school records before his career closes out; however the senior southpaw has yet to play a complete season, being sidelined in the past three seasons at some point due to injury. When healthy, the aerial attack of Browning to receivers Je'Ron Hamm, Colby Harper, Tony Cook, and tight ends Alec Osborne, Harley Scioneaux and Kevin Steed make defensive secondaries with too many options to carry.

Adding to the offense will be the return of running back Jyruss Edwards. Like Browning, Edwards has had an injury plagued career at ULM, but can still finish up in the top 10 in career yards. Adding to the backfield is Monterrell Washington that makes for a solid second running option.

Defense …

ULM's organized chaos 3-3-5 defensive scheme will be much improved this season, with several key players returning again from injury. The defensive front is anchored by preseason conference selection Kentarius Caldwell, but Joey Gautney is another name to remember on the line. Fifth-year senior Cam Blakes anchors the linebacking corps that returns few with game experience, but has players that have made big plays over the past few years. Look for Ray Stovall and Hunter Kissinger to breakout in 2013. Defensive coordinator Troy Reffett has taken over the secondary coaching duties, just as he did at the end of the 2012 season. Isaiah Newsome is on the preseason Thorpe Award watch list and will need to make some big plays.

Special teams will rest solely on Justin Manton. While he missed some key field goals in 2012, his leg will be one that lands a win or two in 2013.

Army, (away) Saturday, Sept. 21 at 12:00 PM EST on CBS Sports Network

The Black Knights finished with a 2-10 record last season.

By GoBlackKnights.com Publisher Charles Grevious

After Army completed their spring practice session, the team could be found at Foley Athletic Center in the middle of their off-season conditioning.

Of course now, summer training camp is right around the corner and before you know it, the Black Knights will be running out in front of a packed house at Michie Stadium in their season opener against Morgan State.

Yes, the 2013 campaign offers up some very competitive foes, such as Stanford of the Pac-12, who without a doubt be a pre-season Top Ten team. Following the Cardinals, you have Wake Forest of the ACC, who will be returning 12 starters.

Speaking of starters, here are some the key returning performers for the Army Black Knights.

Offense …

Raymond Maples, Running Back

6-foot-1, 220 pounds

Senior

The Philadelphia (Pa) product finished his sophomore campaign 26th in the nation in rushing, where he compiled 1,066 yards with an impressive 7.30 avg., which put him in the top three in the country in that category. Then in 2012 he followed with 1,215 yards on the ground (5.45 avg.). Make no mistake about it, the slotback who wears #1 on his jersey, is our No. 1 Top Ten pre-season Black Knight.

Ryan Powis, Center

6-foot-1, 250 pounds

Junior

The native of Midlothian (Va.), who in 2012 was named as a pre-season candidate for the Rimington Trophy Award which an honor given annually to the top center in the country, has been a rock at center and enters his third season as starter. Although he missed a large segment of spring practice, Powis should be 100% by the time summer training camp opens.

Defense …

Geoffery Bacon, Free Safety
6-foot-0, 207 pounds

Junior

The junior defender finished 2012 leading the team in tackles with 136, including 65 solo tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 1.0 sack and one interception. His total tackles ranked fifth in the nation. Bacon's totals may not to be as high next year with more help from a rising frosh/soph. class, along with his move to safety, but he will remain in the middle of things defensively.

Larry Dixon, Fullback

5-foot-10, 230 pounds

Junior

Dixon came into the Army program as a 3-star Rivals.com prospect and hasn't disappointed since his arrival on the campus of West Point. In his rookie season (2011) of college football, he accumulated 542 yards on the ground, with an equally impressive 6.2 average. The following season, with quarterback Trent Steelman and Maples pumping out 1,248 and 1,215 yards respectively, the bull-like fullback was only 161 yards short of 1,000 yards himself, which would have allowed Army's rushing attack that lead the nation in rushing to manufacture a ground game trifecta ... three 1,000 yard rushers. Dixon's ability to block is just as effective as his ability to pick up yardage.

Bobby Kough, Defensive End

6-foot-4, 250 pounds

Junior

When the 2012 season unfolded, Kough was embarking on his first full year on the collegiate level. Needless to say, he has the upside and the potential to be a mainstay on Army's defensive front over the next two seasons. The 2013 should be Kough "break-out" year.

Chris Carnegie, Cornerback

6-foot-0, 180 pounds

Sophomore

According to head coach Rich Ellerson, Carnegie had a solid spring after playing way too much as a freshman, but he took advantage of that. And the spring was just what the doctor order, where native of Oakland (Cali.) was able to work on those areas (e.g., open field tackling) that troubled Carnegie during his rookie campaign.

A.J. Schurr, Quarterback

6-foot-0, 200 pounds

Sophomore

Although Ellerson has been reluctant to name a starter, all fingers point to and it is our contention that Schurr is the heir apparent to Trent Steelman. However, we were also reluctant to have the QB on our Top Ten list, because of his lack of in-depth game experience. But after a solid spring, combined with the brief moments in 2012, Schurr rounds out our list.

Clemson, (away) Saturday, Sept. 28 at TBA on TBA

The Tigers finished with an 11-2 (7-1 ACC) record last season.

By TigerIllustrated.com senior writer Larry Williams

Offense …

Tajh Boyd's decision to return for his senior season was huge for this team's chances of being a national contender. Add in the return of Sammy Watkins, some other talented receivers and veteran offensive linemen, and this group can be as lethal as they've been the last two years under Chad Morris. There are some huge holes, though. Nuk Hopkins was Boyd's go-to receiver, and it won't be easy for Watkins to duplicate Hopkins' blend of durability, physicality and unspoken on-field communication with Boyd. Tigers also have big questions at TE after the departure of Brandon Ford, and the knee injury suffered by Sam Cooper in the spring game didn't help. Look out for freshman TE Jordan Leggett, though. Also, Dalton Freeman started a ton of games at center and his presence will be missed. They do like his replacement, Ryan Norton.

Defense …

There were times last year when this crew looked awful, most notably against N.C. State in the 11th game. But overall they did make improvement in Brent Venables' first season, and that was demonstrated when they shut down LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl victory. Venables and Dabo Swinney love the progress of the defensive line, not to mention linebackers. They believe there's a really good mix of talent, depth and experience led by tackle Grady Jarrett, end Corey Crawford and MLB Spencer Shuey. The big question is a secondary that has been really bad the last two years. They addressed this need in recruiting by signing eight defensive backs, and Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse should play right away and give this group a much-needed talent infusion.

NC State, (home) Saturday, Oct. 5 at TBA on TBA

The Wolfpack finished with a 7-5 (4-4 ACC) record.

By TheWolfpacker.com editor Jacey Zembal

Offense …

NC State returns three offensive linemen with past starting experience, two running backs and a pair of wide receivers. The scheme is different under new coach Dave Doeren and offensive coordinator Matt Canada, with an emphasis on a hurry-up offense and allowing the Wolfpack's playmakers to get the ball in space. Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas, a redshirt junior, Arkansas graduate senior Brandon Mitchell and sophomore Manny Stocker will battle for the starting quarterback position. Whoever wins the battle will have veteran receivers Quintin Payton, Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith to throw to, plus West Virginia transfer Travares Copeland. Senior left tackle Rob Crisp could anchor the line and help open up holes for running backs Tony Creecy and Shadrach Thornton.

Defensively …

The Wolfpack should have a great defensive tackle duo with Thomas Teal and T.Y. McGill, both juniors, and a trio of experienced defensive ends in fifth-year seniors Darryl Cato-Bishop and Forrest West, and redshirt junior Art Norman. The linebackers are inexperienced, but fast, and bolstered by the return of senior outside linebacker D.J. Green, who missed last year after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. The leader of the defense resides in the secondary, with senior cornerback Dontae Johnson, who has great size for the position at 6-2 and 195 pounds. Redshirt sophomores Juston Burris and Hakim Jones will get bigger roles at cornerback and strong safety respectively. Fifth-year senior free safety Jarvis Byrd rounds out the secondary, and he has overcome two ACL injuries.

Stay tuned to Deacons Illustrated for part II of the Wake Forest football schedule preview.


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