Midseason report: Wake Forest


Record: 4-1, 3-0 ACC

Coach Jim Grobe tried to tell us.

He had said all summer that his team was better than the one that finished 3-9 in 2010.

Florida State found out firsthand just how much better the Deacs are this season.

Grobe has made a solid case for ACC Coach of the Year through the first half of the season, as the Deacs are 3-0 in conference play for the first time in school history and are 4-1 for the first time since 2008. With the win over FSU, Wake Forest ended a streak of five straight losses to ranked opponents and put itself right in the mix to win the Atlantic Division title. The Deacs are confident from a four-game winning streak, and much of that can be attributed to the improvement of quarterback Tanner Price.

Price is off to the second-best start to a season of any Wake Forest quarterback. With his 233 passing yards against the Noles, Price now has 1,342 yards on the season. With eight touchdowns this season, he has already surpassed his season total of seven from last year. He’s making better decisions, and the players around him have improved.

Wake Forest hasn’t run the ball very well this year, but thanks to Price and a talented group of receivers, it hasn’t had to. The Deacs have the No. 18 passing offense in the country, and Price is third in the ACC in passing average per game. Receiver Chris Givens is second in the ACC with 6.6 receptions per game and off to the best five-game start by a receiver in school history. Improvement in the turnover margin has also been a key this year, as the defense has had multiple takeaways in each of the past two games, including five against Florida State.

The Deacs are an overtime loss to Syracuse away from being undefeated right now, and had Price not been injured with about 11 minutes to go in that game, odds are Wake Forest would have won. It was proof as to just how valuable Price is to this team. Wake Forest is as much in the Atlantic Division race as Clemson at this point, but a tough stretch lies ahead.

Grobe’s team isn’t just better this year, though, it’s one of the ACC’s teams to beat.

Offensive MVP: QB Tanner Price: He has already exceeded last season’s passing yardage total and has 1,352 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has completed 62.3 percent of his passes, and is fifth in the ACC in passing efficiency.

Defensive MVP: OLB Kyle Wilber: He recorded a sack against FSU for the third straight game and now has 13 career sacks. He also recovered a fumble against the Noles, and is playing the best football of his career.