Wake Forest is coming off of a brutal season, as the Demon Deacons lost nine in a row at one point, finishing the season 3-9, including 1-7 in the ACC. Seven times, Wake Forest allowed 30 points or more, as it finished 110th in the NCAA in points against (35.8). Worse yet, the offense struggled, scoring just 22.8 points per game. But there is optimism in Winston-Salem heading into the upcoming season, with a maturing nucleus of stars.
Players to watch for (Offense):
TANNER PRICE (QB): Last season, Price emerged as a true freshman to take over the helm. The lefty showed flashes of brilliance, including a three-touchdown effort against Duke and threw for 326 yards against Navy. But he also showed he had a lot to learn, completing just 3-of-16 passes against Virginia Tech. Price has had a full season now in the Deacons system and will try to build on his consistency.
JOSH HARRIS (RB): Look no further than Wake Forest’s game against Virginia Tech to see Harris’ potential. The back rushed for 241 yards and two touchdowns against a solid Hokie defense. For the season, he finished with 720 yards (good for fifth in the ACC) and seven touchdowns.
CHRIS GIVENS (WR): Heading into his third year as a starter, Givens finished last season with 514 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll be a frequent target of Price’s with the graduation of Devon Brown, who hauled in a team-leading 39 catches last year.
Players to watch for (Defense):
TRISTAN DORTY (DE): Last season, with injuries piling up, necessity forced Wake Forest to switch to a 3-4 defense from its traditional 4-3. Dorty was one of the stars of the defense, finishing with 44 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.
KYLE WILBER (OLB): Originally a defensive end, Wilber moved to linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme. He ended up leading the Deacons with 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks and was third on the team with 65 total tackles.
Fearless prediction: Syracuse will open its season Thursday night against Wake Forest on Sept. 1 at the Carrier Dome. The Deacons return 58 players from last year’s team and did finish off the season with a 34-13 win at Vanderbilt. But the Orange, behind a few key returning starters of its own will open the season with a win.