Orange Bowl

2012 ACC Preview - Day 5

 
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Ryan Trapp - Staff Writer
www.OrangeBowl.org
 

Wake Forest

2011 Record (ACC): 6-7 (5-3)

Returning Starters (Off/Def/ST): 13 (4/7/2)

After an up and down season under head coach Jim Grobe in 2010, the Demon Deacons came out of  last year with six wins and a Music City Bowl berth. Highlighted by the emergence of quarterback Tanner Price, who threw for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, Wake Forrest proved it’s an ACC force to be reckoned with. Price is back for his junior campaign and has an established repertoire of receivers highlighted by Michael Campanaro and Terence Davis. The Deacon defense has a terrific turnover rate that should take a great deal of pressure of their budding quarterback, with seven starters coming back and most of the reserves as well. Leading the way for the veteran crew is All-ACC nose guard Nikita Whitlock and sophomore corner Merril Noel. 

THE ROAD TO SOUTH BEACH

An early season test against Florida State could determine how the ACC-Atlantic will shape out and should show us what the 2012 edition of Grobe’s squad can bring to the table. They host the difficult Clemson Tigers at home and visit the Wolfpack in their ACC finale. It’ll take victories in those three games to propel Wake to its second Orange Bowl.



Virginia Tech

2011 Record (ACC): 11-3 (7-1)

Returning Starters (Off/Def/ST): 14 (4/9/1)

With nine starters returning on an elite defense, the Hokies are poised to make yet another run at an ACC title. Cornerback Kyle Fuller highlights a seasoned secondary that could be Tech’s best in years and junior James Gayle, who lead the squad with his seven sacks last season, will anchors a stout defensive front that also includes a healthy Bruce Taylor. Replacing star running back David Wilson won’t be easy, but quarterback Logan Thomas and his veteran receiving corps will keep the Hokies’ offense formidable. Offensive line coach Curt Newsome will have to lean heavily on some young guns to fill four starting spots on the offensive line. Frank Beamer and company have appeared in 19 straight bowl games and three straight ACC Championships, and there’s no reason to think that trend will change this year.

THE ROAD TO SOUTH BEACH

Tech’s home opener against Georgia Tech is a big one and should tell a lot about what Beamer’s 2012 squad is capable of. They’ll be tried again in late October when they head to Death Valley to square off with Clemson, who dealt the Hokies two of their three losses last season. But Florida State will be Tech’s biggest roadblock as they try to return to the Orange Bowl for the fourth time in six years. The Hokies could face the ‘Noles twice this season, November 8th at Lane Stadium and again in the ACC Championship.

 

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