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WFU's Jim Grobe wins AP Coach of the Year

By Ralph D Russo, AP
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006

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Wake Forest coach orchestrated nation's top turnaround in 2006

New York, NY - The Demon Deacons were coming off three straight losing seasons, but had one of the most experienced rosters in the ACC with 18 returning starters.

WFU Jim Grobe by Gene Galin

"I thought we were going to be a better football team," Grobe said. "In fact, I thought we had potential to be a pretty good football team."

Great seasons, however, rarely start the way this one began for the Deacons.

In the opener against Syracuse, quarterback Ben Mauk broke his arm and was lost for the season. Two weeks later, tailback Micah Andrews injured his knee and was done for the year.

"The first thing you worry about is the mentality of your football team when you lose really good players, especially with season-ending injuries," Grobe said. "Our focus was to try and not change our approach each week and the way we talked to the players.

WFU Jim Grobe

"Having a little bit more of a mature football team than we've had in the past and having a coaching staff that's been together for a while, we didn't dwell on the negatives very long. We were forward-thinking pretty quick."

While tending to the team's state of mind, Grobe and his staff were also revamping the offense. Under Grobe, Wake Forest has been the best rushing team in the ACC. Without its two best runners, the focus shifted for the Deacons.

WFU Jim Grobe

They scrapped the spread-option built around Mauk's running and built a simpler plan around redshirt freshman Riley Skinner. Without Andrews, Grobe shifted receiver Kenneth Moore to running back and got other receivers involved in the running game.

"We kind of adopted a little bit of an old-school mentality - and we typically try to do that anyway - but I think even more so we began to emphasize the importance of taking care of the football," Grobe said.

Wake Forest was outgained this season 312 yards per game to 301, but was plus-14 in turnover differential, had a strong kicking game and played tough red-zone defense.

WFU Jim Grobe

The Demon Deacons became the first ACC team to ever go 6-0 on the road and clinched their first Bowl Championship Series berth with a 9-6 victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.

"We had a team that was focused on trying to win football games, and not coming out of the game worried about their stats," Grobe said.

Grobe, who had a winning record in his first two seasons at Wake Forest, is a hot commodity again and being mentioned as a possible candidate for high-profile jobs.

"I have no idea what the future holds," he said, "but I could not be happier than I am at Wake Forest right now."

 
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WFU's Jim Grobe wins AP Coach of the Year
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