GREENSBORO — By the time Wake Forest played its final three games of the 2012 season, coach Jim Grobe said his Deacons were just a bad football team.
Marred by injuries, suspensions and the wear and tear of a football season, the Deacons lost their final three games by a combined 103 points and didn’t make a bowl for the third time in four years.
Grobe felt good about his team this time last year, and he has that same feeling again. But the team has to avoid the bumps in the road that derailed a Wake Forest team that, at the start of last November, was just one win away from bowl eligibility.
“We were really beat up, we had some issues with our team being discouraged by the decisions some of our guys made that caused them to get in trouble,” Grobe said Monday at ACC Football Kickoff.
Midway through last year, Grobe suspended eight players within two weeks for various amounts of time for violating team rules. But with time comes experience, and Grobe hopes those players learned from their miscues.
“We can actually be a really good football team without a lot to show for it because we play such a tough schedule every year,” Grobe said. “Last year we were 5-7, we shouldn’t have been 5-7, we should have won more than five.”
In order to win more than five games this season, the Deacons need to pick themselves up from the ACC stats cellar. Wake Forest averaged 18.5 points per game on offense while the defense allowed 31.8 points.
Wake returns seven starters on offense and eight on defense. Tanner Price comes back for his senior season with his favorite target, second-team All-ACC receiver Michael Campanaro, back as well.
Campanaro averaged 7.9 catches per game last year, the second-highest per-game average in conference history, but Grobe didn’t necessarily see that as a good thing.
“I think what we learned last year is we probably got into too much of a comfort zone with Mike, probably Tanner did, too,” Grobe said. “We got to the point where it’s kind of almost every play we call is, ‘Go to Mike.’ ”