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 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -Stanley Arnoux remembers Wake Forest's not-too-distant days as a doormat perhaps better than anybody, so the fifth-year linebacker helped gather his teammates together earlier this week for a players-only meeting.
The message: The Demon Deacons could slip back into sub-mediocrity even quicker than they rose to relevance.
``We've got to get back to having a unified team again, having one big family - offense, defense, special teams, all together,'' Arnoux said Tuesday.
For a program that was built on its meticulous attention to detail, the little things haven't clicked at Wake Forest over the past few weeks, and that has led to its worst stretch in a single season since before its breakout 2006.
nse hasn't produced as many turnovers in key moments as it probably would prefer.
As a result, they've managed just two touchdowns in Atlantic Coast Conference play and have dropped two straight and three of four for the first time since their last losing season, a 4-7 finish in 2005.
Now they're looking to find their way and start playing Wake Forest football again - with that efficient, precise, mistake-free style that once had them nationally ranked and a popular pick to challenge for the league title.
``Just doing the things and making the plays on both sides of the ball, in all three aspects - the kicking game, the running game and defense, we're not used to (struggling),'' running back Josh Adams said. ``We lost a sense of bonding as a team and playing together ... and this week is where we'll kind of put it all together.''
The Demon Deacons (4-3, 2-2) insisted they cleared the air during Monday night's 20-minute closed-door meeting - led by linebackers Arnoux and Aaron Curry, defensive lineman Matt Robinson and quarterback Riley Skinner - and are on the same page entering their critical five-game November stretch run.
ak us apart,''' Arnoux said. ``Stick together, stand tall.''
Of course, many of the solutions to those problems can be found not in the meeting room, but on the practice field.
It wasn't that long ago that the Demon Deacons were flying high at No. 16, but they couldn't keep hold of the ball against Navy, turning it over six times in a 24-17 loss.
That was followed by a 12-7 victory over Clemson in the first of three straight games without star kicker Sam Swank, who is out with a strained right quadriceps. In his absence, scoring at Wake Forest seemingly became a touchdown-or-bust proposition because his replacement, freshman Shane Popham, has missed three of four field goals in his last two games.
Maryland shut down Jim Grobe's spread offense, with the coach saying his team ``dropped about a million passes'' in a 26-0 loss - its first shutout defeat in more than a decade.
Then, Wake Forest threw it just eight times while running out of the I-formation for much of its 16-10 setback at turnover-free Miami. Grobe is stressing the need for more balance after Skinner was just 3-of-8 passing for 57 yards in that game and Adams rushed 21 times for a season-high 111 yards.
But Duke coach David Cutcliffe said the tape of that game indicated a possible return to the run-first style Grobe's teams used before he embraced the spread in '06.
ilososphy of Wake Forest football: to be physical and run the ball,'' he said.
Yet the Demon Deacons insist there's no sniping or finger-pointing between one of the ACC's stingiest defenses and the league's lowest-scoring offense. Wake Forest is giving up just 16.4 points per game - but is only scoring 17.4.
``That's not acceptable here,'' Robinson said. ``It's easy to question things in hindsight, but we're all in this together.''
---
AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in Durham, N.C., contributed to this report.

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