|Wake Forest begins tough task of defending first ACC title since 1970|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 06 August 2007 21:25|
Until it's finished, the hardware is being hidden somewhere in cold storage - and coach Jim Grobe couldn't think of a better place for it.
``I think the best thing we can tell them is, 'Put your championship rings in a safe place, quit sitting around in class looking at them and let's get started over again,''' Grobe said Monday before the Demon Deacons began preseason practice.
``What we did last year, last year's team has a lot to be proud of. Our seniors, this is your team, this is what you're going to be remembered for, and even though you feel good about last year, this is the year that you're going to remember the most. So we like to think that all of our kids enjoyed what went on last year but are hungry to start a new season.''
Now, for just the second time in school history, Wake Forest is beginning the task of defending an ACC title, and is adjusting to its new role as one of the league's top targets.
Clearly, there's no chance Florida State has forgotten the 30-0 rout it suffered at the Demon Deacons' hands last season. Nor has the slim victory over Boston College - Wake Forest's first opponent this year - slipped the Eagles' mind.
``This is a pretty good group of kids - they're not dumb guys,'' Grobe said. ``They know we've got a target on our chest. They know our job is tougher than last year (because) we're not going to sneak up on anybody. The thing that's really fun is to see how excited the guys are to get started. They're really fired up about the season, having another challenge and they've worked really hard in the summer - this is a pretty good group of football players.''
Among the key storylines this season will be how the Demon Deacons adjust to the attention that's sure to follow after last year's 11-3 finish. That record included a victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, a berth opposite Louisville in the Orange Bowl and a No. 15 final national ranking.
Perhaps what's most remarkable about Wake Forest's plucky season was that the Demon Deacons - traditionally one of the nation's top rushing teams - did it after top running back Micah Andrews was lost for the season after injuring his knee during a Week 3 win at Connecticut.
Nearly 12 months later, Andrews is counting on coming back.
``It's about time, because I've been rehabbing for close to a year now, and I'm so sick of lifting weights, running sprints, working on cutting, stopping, going and stuff like that,'' Andrews said. ``I'm so ready to catch a ball and even be tackled. I even miss what that feels like.''
And while the Demon Deacons drifted through their dream season, a part of Andrews couldn't help but feel left out because he was stuck on the sidelines. That's why he desperately wants to keep Wake Forest near the top of the ACC.
``I didn't feel a part of everything that was going on, not because I was upset about their success, but I'm not the kind of person that I can take credit for something I didn't do,'' Andrews said. ``That's what hurts me the most is that I wasn't able to help out.''
Wake Forest, picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Atlantic Division race, is used to exceeding low expectations - the Demon Deacons were a last-place selection last preseason. And if they follow their breakthrough season by collecting more trophies, that's OK - after all, they need something to fill their new display case.
``It would be nice if, as we go through our time here at Wake Forest, that we have to expand that trophy case,'' Grobe said, laughing.