Orlando Sentinel college insider Matt Murschel has ranked all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 125 to our projected No. 1 team.

Today at No. 93: Wake Forest

Coach: Jim Grobe (73-74, 13th season; 106-107-1 overall)

2012 record: 5-7 overall (3-5 in ACC, fourth in Atlantic Division)

Look back: Injuries and inexperience were key factors in a disastrous 2012 season for the Demon Deacons. After getting blown out 54-0 at Florida State near the start of the season, their woes increased by the end of the year. Wake Forest entered the final three-game stretch of its season sitting one win shy of a bowl berth. Losses in each of those contests, however, forced them out of the postseason picture.

All-ACC receiver Michael Campanaro was a bright spot for the Demon Deacons. Despite missing parts of three games, the junior caught 79 passes for 763 yards and six touchdowns. He also set an ACC single-season record for per-game pass reception average. He caught 7.9 balls per game.

Offensive starters returning: 8

Offensive starters lost: 3

Defensive starters returning: 8

Defensive starters lost: 3

Key losses: FB Tommy Bohannon, C Garrett Williams, LB Riley Haynes, LB Joey Ehrmann.

Top returnees: QB Tanner Price, RB Josh Harris, WR Michael Campanaro, DT Nikita Whitlock, DE Zack Thompson, CB Merril Noel.

Strengths: Wake's strength lies in the experience it has coming back this season. Whereas last season's struggles were the product of several sophomores, particularly on the offensive line, being thrust into action, 2013 should be completely different.

QB Tanner Price, for example, returns as the Demon Deacons' starting quarterback for a fourth straight season. The senior threw for more than 2,300 yards last season, including a 327-yard effort in an upset over North Carolina. Price along with Campanaro, RB Josh Harris and DT Nikita Whitlock form a strong base of veteran leaders.

Weaknesses: Perhaps the most apparent weakness for the Demon Deacons is their division. Having to go up against the likes of FSU, Clemson and North Carolina State will make winning a division championship and earning a berth into the ACC Championship difficult.

The schedule does Wake little favors, too. Even though a trip to Tallahassee won't be part of the Deacons' slate this season, games at Clemson, Miami, Syracuse and Vanderbilt will. With a November that features games against Syracuse, FSU, Duke and Vanderbilt, Wake Forest won't be able to afford another late-year meltdown.

Outlook: Wake Forest should be better than it was last year. A bowl trip should happen, even with the difficult slate it has to go through. A six-win season may be most likely, but an eight-win year could be in the cards, depending upon how well the veterans play and how well that experience pays off this season.

Offensively, the Demon Deacons should be sound. As long as injuries don't hinder the offensive again, they should be fine in the capable hands of Price and Campanaro. Defensively, however, could be another story. Although a large group of returning players is coming back on that side of the ball, the defense will need to make early statements in order to prove it can be high-quality. Last year, the unit ranked 10th in the 12-team ACC in passing defense and 11th in scoring defense.

2013 schedule

Aug. 29 Presbyterian

Sept. 6 at Boston College

Sept. 14 Louisiana-Monroe

Sept. 21 at Army

Sept. 28 at Clemson

Oct. 5 NC State

Oct. 19 Maryland

Oct. 26 at Miami

Nov. 2 at Syracuse

Nov. 9 Florida State

Nov. 23 Duke

Nov. 30 at Vanderbilt

 

coharvey@tribune.com

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