Skinny - Jim Grobe does his best at Wake Forest, but the talent just doesn't compare to that of the Florida State and Virginia Tech's of the conference. Wake does however manage to overachieve most of the time and that can be credited to the coaching staff. Recently that overachieving can also be credited to the face of the program, Riley Skinner. Skinner has been Wake's star player since his freshman season and nothing should deter him from finishing his senior season strong. The talent around Skinner; however, just isn't that great. The running game struggled last season and coaches hope Josh Adams can regain 2007 form and Kevin Harris can maintain the ypc average he had last season in a limited role. Brandon Pendergrass could also impact the position after leading the team in rushing last season, despite a bad ypc. The defense was highly regarded last season and helped keep Wake in games, but the back 7 only have one returning starter and the secondary was the key to the team's success last season. Wake should be a middle of the pack team this season, but look for them to take a step back. They finished 5th in the country with a +17 turnover margin and despite the return of Skinner, most teams can't maintain that great of a margin. Wake is well coached but play dangerous non-conference games against Baylor and Stanford and should be satisfied with a bowl season.
Strength - Riley Skinner
Skinner is the face of the program and has been for the past 4 seasons, leading his team to an 11-3 record his freshman season. Skinner has over 6000 career passing yards in a program that isn't known for amazing offensive performances. If he puts up slightly better numbers than last season he could end his career with 9000 passing yards, and shatter Wake records. Skinner is a second team All-ACC performer, but he probably would make first team on another team with a better supporting cast. He minimizes mistakes, despite playing with a sub-par group of receivers and an average offensive line. Skinner is not a mobile quarterback, but he can also pick up a yard for the team on the ground if needed.
Weakness - Playmakers
Skinner is a great quarterback, accurate and a game manager, but the role players are sub-par. Grobe can talk up the young players all he wants, but until the make an impact on one of the least productive offenses in the country potential means nothing. Adams disappointed at the running back position last season and split time with the other two backs as a result. Blocking should be better this season helping that cause. DJ Boldin is no longer there after tripling the receptions of the closest receiver. That means Marshall Williams majorly needs to step up along with Devon Brown and Jordan Williams.
Key Game - 9/5/09 Baylor
The team destroyed Baylor last season in their best offensive performance of the season. This season Robert Griffen is established and the Baylor defense should be ready as they travel to Winston Salem. The schedule isn't as bad as last season as the Ole Miss game is replaced by Stanford (Wake did beat Ole Miss though). Beating Baylor is important if Wake wants to start strong like they did last season. If they do make it to ACC play unscathed, the offense mst not sputter like it did a season ago. A younger defense won't be able to be relied on as much and the offense must provide some support.
Key Player - Matt Woodlief
Woodlief will be the quarterback of the defense, operating from the middle linebacker position. Woodlief has provided solid back up numbers his first two seasons (about 20 tackles a season, but is built real small. At only 5'11", he's undersized and most overcome that with grit. All three linebackers are gone from last season including the machine that was Aaron Curry. Woodlief joins Hunter Haynes as an experienced back-up, but without proven first team leadership. The defense was pretty strong last season, but losing the backbone of Aaron Curry could set the team back. An experienced defensive line should ease the job of the new backers.
Impact Freshman - Quan Rucker
Predicted ACC finish - 4th (Atlantic)
Top 5 Players
1. QB Riley Skinner
2. DT Boo Robinson
3. DT John Russell
4. TE Ben Wooster
5. OL Chris DeGeare