Wake Forest football schedule preview: part II

After narrowly missing out on a bowl bid Wake Forest is poised to make a run to the post-season.
The second half of the season features the meat of Wake's schedule.
Here is the rundown of the final six games …
Maryland, (home) Saturday, Oct. 19 at (Time) TBA on (TV) TBA
The Terrapins finished with a 4-8 (2-6 ACC) record last season.
By football analyst Dave Lomonico
Offensively …
Despite boasting an electrifying playmaker in receiver Stefon Diggs, the Terps struggled offensively last season. Much of that had to do with an offensive line that ranked among the bottom 10 teams in the country in sacks allowed. Not to mention they had an unfathomable four quarterbacks go down with season-ending injuries during the course of the fall. This year the offensive line should be improved, though how much remains to be seen. C.J. Brown, who was last year's starting quarterback before suffering an injury, reclaims the starting spot and, if he can stay healthy, should be able to take advantage of Maryland's glut of weapons, namely Diggs and transfer Deon Long.
Defensively …
Maryland graduated several key pieces -- Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis, Demetrius Hartsfield -- off a defense that looked strong for most of 2012. But the Terps still have a strong core, and coordinator Brian Stewart knows how to effectively position guys in the 3-4 to take advantage of strengths and hide weaknesses. The linebacker core, led by Cole Farrand is young, but also deep and talented. The secondary should be fine with returning starters Jeremiah Johnson and Dexter McDougle manning the corners and Anthony Nixon holding down one of the safety positions. The biggest question mark may be up front. Nose guard Darius Kilgo is active and fierce, but the other two spots are up for grabs.
Miami (Fla.), (away) Saturday, Oct. 26 at TBA on TBA
The Hurricanes finished with a 7-5 (5-3 ACC) record last season.
By publisher Gary Ferman
Offensively …
Miami returns a veteran quarterback in Stephen Morris, a franchise running back in Duke Johnson, a veteran offensive line, three quality tight ends and a very deep receiving corps led by Allen Hurns, Herb Waters and Philip Dorsett. Put all that together and the Hurricanes should have one of the best offenses in the country.
Defensively …
Defensive improvement will be the key to Miami's season. While Miami returns 10 starts on offense, there also are nine starters back on defense who will be counted upon to be significantly better than in the 2012 season when Miami had one of the worst defenses in the country. The defensive line will be one critical spot. Miami must get All-Conference level play from tackle Curtis Porter, who has underachieved and been beset by injuries throughout his career, and linebacker Denzel Perryman. The safety play must also get better and sophomores Rayshawn Jenkins and Deon Bush will be the keys there.
Syracuse, (away) Saturday, Nov. 2 at (Time) TBA on (TV) TBA
The Orange finished with an 8-5 (5-2 Big East) record last season.
By publisher Ryan Murray
Offense …
Last year the Syracuse offense was one of the biggest surprises in college football. For almost a decade Syracuse struggled to move the ball and put up points, but last year they were able to put everything together and turn some heads. This season though the Orange will be without the left side of their offensive line, their top two wide receivers and quarterback. That may hurt some schools, but the Syracuse coaches seem confident that they can repeat the output of last year's team.
Last year the Orange did a good job of playing younger guys, so the transition of losing their top players would not be too much of a burden to overcome. The biggest question mark for the offense will be replacing Ryan Nassib at quarterback. Syracuse has one quarterback on their roster who has taken snaps in a game and that player is Charley Loeb. Even though Loeb has taken snaps his count has not gone over twenty total. It is that lack of experience that led Scott Shafer to look for another option to help in his search and the player he brought in was ex-Oklahoma quarterback Drew Allen. Another name to watch out for in the quarterback battle is Terrel Hunt.
The Syracuse offense will run as well as their quarterback. They will have a decent set of receivers led by Jarrod West and two solid running backs in Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley.
Defense …
Since Scott Shafer came to Syracuse the defense has stepped up and played a major role in the recent success of Syracuse. This year they will be missing some key pieces off of last year's team, but like the offense a lot of younger guys had a chance to play a lot and get used to college football last season.
The Orange defense should be solid for the most part, but the questions come when talking about the defensive line. There is potential for the defensive tackles to impress as they are led by senior Jay Bromley and junior Eric Crume. With the defensive ends the Orange really do not know what they are going to get.
All and all when it comes to Syracuse this year they have the potential to capitalize on last season. The Orange just need to make sure that they did not force themselves into mistakes like they did last year. During last season the Orange made so many huge mistakes that cost them games as well as an outright Big East Championship.
Florida State, (home) Saturday, Nov. 9 at (Time) TBA on (TV) TBA
The Seminoles finished with a 12-2 (7-1 ACC) record last season.
By publisher Gene Williams
Offensively …
With the exception of quarterback EJ Manuel, who was selected in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, Florida State returns the bulk of its offense from last season. The daunting task of replacing Manuel will likely fall on redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. The former five-star recruit has all-world talent and turned in such a dominating performance in the spring game that it prompted first team QB Clint Trickett to transfer to West Virginia. While Winston has an unlimited potential he has never taken a snap in a college game. There is an abundance of talent and experience at running back and wide receiver. The main players to watch here are bruising tailback James Wilder Jr. and speedy wideout Rashad Greene. For the first time in years the Seminoles will field an experienced offensive line with four starters returning. However, if there are injuries depth could be a real issue here.
Defensively …
Florida State ranked second in total defense last season but lost seven defensive players, including two first rounders, in the 2013 NFL draft. The 'Noles also had to replace defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who took the head coaching job at Kentucky. He was replaced by Nick Saban disciple Jeremy Pruitt, who served as Alabama's secondary coach the past three seasons. The early signs are that Pruitt will make some philosophical changes to the Seminole defense including frequently changing personnel groupings and blitzing more often. Despite all the changes on this side of the ball there is still plenty of optimism that FSU's defense will once again be dominant in 2013. Florida State has recruited extremely well on defense and that talent should be on display this fall. If there's a drop-off it will probably be at defensive end where FSU had three players drafted including All-American and first selection Bjoern Werner. Senior defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and senior linebacker Christian Jones, the leading tackler from last season, will be the heart and soul of the Seminole defense.
Duke, (home) Saturday, Nov. 23, at (Time) TBA on (TV) TBA
The Blue Devils finished with a 6-7 (3-5 ACC) record last season.
By publisher Brian McLawhorn
Offensively …
Despite losing four key components on offense to graduation in quarterback Sean Renfree, wide receivers Conner Vernon and Desmond Scott, as well as starting center Brian Moore, Duke should be a potent force yet again when possessing the football. With a stable of athletic quarterbacks in the system, led by starter Anthony Boone, Duke is shifting its offense from the pro-style to a zone read driven approach. Perry Simmons (right tackle) and Laken Tomlinson (left guard) anchor an offensive line that returns four starters which also includes guard David Harding and tackle Tacoby Cofield. Sophomore Matt Skura is slated to be the starter at center. The Blue Devils will have plenty of weapons for Boone to get the football to at both running back and wide receiver. David Cutcliffe's team returns four quality running backs including Jela Duncan, Juwan Thompson, Josh Snead and Shaquille Powell. The team's top playmaker on offense, Jamison Crowder, leads a young, but talented group of receivers that features former tight ends Issac Blakeney and Erich Schneider, as well as promising young receivers Max McCaffrey and Anthony Nash. Former receiver turned safety Brandon Braxton will also return to the offensive side of the football at wide receiver. Duke will also utilize the tight end position quite frequently with the presence of David Reeves and Braxton Deaver.
Defensively …
The Blue Devils' biggest weakness from a year ago was its defense, and heading into the 2013 campaign that remains the squad's biggest concern. Duke's strengths on this side of the football lie at defensive end and linebacker. Sixth year senior Kenny Anunike and senior Justin Foxx lead a unit loaded with experienced depth. Juniors Jonathan Woodruff, Dezmond Johnson and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo are all expected to contribute at the position. Senior defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento is also returning expected to be a key component up front. After missing the entire 2012 season due to injury, junior Kelby Brown is expected to start at middle linebacker, while his younger brother, Kyler Brown, C.J. France and David Helton are all expected to be included in the rotation at linebacker. Despite the return of Duke's leader on defense, cornerback Ross Cockrell, the secondary is one of the Blue Devils' biggest questions heading into the fall. DeVon Edwards, Michael Westray and Jared Boyd will all be in a battle for a key role at cornerback in Duke's 4-2-5 scheme. Dwayne Norman will start at one safety spot, while Anthony Young-Wiseman and Ohio State transfer Jeremy Cash are the likely starters at the other safety spots.
Special Teams …
Duke's special team's unit returns two of the biggest weapons in the league in placekicker Ross Martin and punter Will Monday, who are considered two of the nation's best at each position. The Blue Devils also return a powerful weapon in the return game in Crowder.
Vanderbilt, (away) Saturday, Nov. 30 at (Time) TBA on (TV) TBA
The Commodores finished with a 9-4 (5-3 SEC) record last season.
By publisher Chris Lee
Offensively …
Vanderbilt loses all-time leading rusher Zac Stacy and quarterback Jordan Rodgers, but the cupboard is far from bare. Former Mountain West Freshman of the Year Austyn Carta-Samuels takes over at quarterback, where he'll have the luxury of throwing to perhaps the Southeastern Conference's best receiving tandem in Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd. Meanwhile, the three-man tandem of Wesley Tate, Jerron Seymour and Brian Kimbrow should spilt reps in attempting to replace Stacy. It helps that VU will have one of the deeper offensive lines it's had in recent memory, led by All-SEC candidate Wesley Johnson anchoring things at left tackle. It won't be an explosive unit, but it should score enough points to win a lot of games given VU's defense.
Defensively …
Coordinator Bob Shoop's bunch has been very good the last two years, and will be again in 2013. It's not a star-studded cast, but the 'Dores were stingy against the pass last year and have enough quality bodies up front to be a quality run defense, too. The headliners are in the secondary, where both cornerback Andre Hal and Kenny Ladler should play in the NFL. VU's defense got better last year when Chase Garnham got used to moving from the outside to the inside, and he'll anchor the linebacking corps. Shoop loves to get pressure on the quarterback, and has three good pass-rushing ends in Caleb Azubike, Walker May and Kyle Woestmann. The challenge will be in forcing turnovers, where Shoop's outfit excelled two years ago before dropping off last year.