On Nov. 3, Wake Forest stood at 5-4 after a 28-14 defeat of Boston College in Winston-Salem, N.C. Just one win away from their second straight bowl trip, the Demon Deacons promptly lost their final three games in emphatic fashion. A 37-6 loss at N.C. State, a 38-0 blanking at the hands of Notre Dame and a 55-21 fall to Vanderbilt added up to a three-game losing streak by a combined score of 130-27 and with it came some sour feelings inside the locker room.
That finish led Wake Forest players to speak out about the culture inside the locker room during the Demon Deacons' limp to the finish. Words like "attitude", "effort" and "emotion" were common.
Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe was asked by Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com about his team's finish, and here's what he had to say.
"I’ve never been on a team that didn’t have a winning record that didn’t have negativity, " Grobe explained. "If anybody’s happy that you’re not winning then you’ve got the wrong guys on your football team. It’s overblown that a football team that doesn’t win has negativity because I think disappointment is maybe a better word than negativity. This is a team last year, I told our athletic director, Ron Wellman, that was a bowl-caliber team.
"A couple things affected that. We had more injuries than I’ve ever had in my coaching career," Grobe continued. "Not an excuse, but a fact. And we had some behavior problems that hurt our chances of winning a game, so we just were one of those teams that was real, real close. We won five games, played three top-10 teams. It’s a broken record here about how tough our schedule is. I felt like last year was an underachieving year for us and I was as disappointed as the rest of our players were."
With the disappointing end to last season behind them, how does Grobe plan to use that to benefit the 2013 edition of Wake Forest football?
"Every team, every coach, every player wants to feel like every year you’re capable of making a run at a championship," he said. "Last year, I really felt like we had the talent to be a bowl team and I was very disappointed that didn’t work out, but I also told our athletic director I thought this year was a year we would have an opportunity to maybe have an opportunity to play for an ACC championship again. Those pieces are still in place."
Of course, no one will truly know if the page has turned until those inside the locker room say so. Let's check.
"There already is a different energy within the team and the entire program," quarterback Tanner Price said. "It’s for the better. Everybody is really committed and really ready to create some change and leave an impact."