Wake Forest's 55-21 loss to Vanderbilt (8-4, 5-3 SEC) was one of the many low points in the valley that was the 2012 football season.
Saturday's loss to the Commodores drops the Demon Deacons to a disappointing 5-7 overall record and 3-5 finish in the ACC.
Deacons Illustrated rewinds back to the regular season finale to break down Wake's performance in regard to the "Five keys."
1) Strong start
The Deacs were competitive early, but could not sustain the high-level of play required to stay in step with the Dores. Wake answered a 7-0 Vandy lead with a 16-play, 71-yard scoring drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Tommy Bohanon to tie the game, but levy broke shortly after that and mighty was its break.
Vanderbilt proceeded to reel off 28 unanswered points before Wake Forest caught its breath.
2) Subdue Vandy's ground game
Zac Stacy amassed 180 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, including a 90-yard scoring scamper. Wake failed to knock him back for a loss, not even once.
Wesley Tate added a 15-yard touchdown run that broke the 7-7 tie, which was the beginning of the bludgeoning blowout.
3) Confusing Rodgers
Jordan Rodgers channeled his inner brother, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The redshirt senior completed 17-23 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns to an inconsequential interception.
A great deal of credit should go to his top target Jordan Matthews, who caught 10 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
4) DeAndre Martin and company
Martin churned out a solid 72 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Also, for being without starting running back Josh Harris Wake Forest's ground game was better than usual.
The Demon Deacons cleared the 100-yard rushing barrier for the first time since its 28-14 win over Boston College Saturday, Nov. 3.
5) Razzle dazzle
Offensively, the Deacs showed little to no creativity, which can largely be attributed a youthful and injury-riddled offensive line.
Wake Forest accumulated a solid 310 yards of total offense, but its two turnovers did nothing to help its cause.
The Commodores sacked Tanner Price times, and hurried him three more times. Price was unable to get into a consistent rhythm throwing the football, which rendered him ineffective.
Jim Grobe on his team
"We just don't have a very good football team right now with the injuries that we've got. Frank Souza went out the first series, and we're just held together by duct tape right now upfront on the offensive line and then we've got some of the exact same issues in the secondary, and we started five freshman [against Vanderbilt]."
"Our deal is to try to play mostly juniors and seniors. We don't mind playing some young kids, but we're plugged in with a lot of youth right now and then some cases some of our older players aren't playing real good."
"One of the issues that I think you get when you have injuries you lose competition at positions. Guys kind of inherit a job, and then they don't really play as well maybe as they would if there was good competition, so we're hurting a couple of ways. We don't have the depth, so we're hurting just from being able to put healthy people on the field and then you lack some competition in spots, so we're just kind of on fumes right now with all of the injuries that we've had."
Tanner Price on the attitude of the team
"I thought we just came out pretty flat. It's disappointing that that happened with so much on the line. We had the chance to play for a bowl game, but it is what it is and we'll have to move on and focus on the future."
"I don't know exactly what happened with the mentality of our team, but obviously we were really flat and mentally I don't think we were focused and I don't know how many guys really wanted to win this game, which is sad."
Nikita Whitlock on the future of the team
"If we play the way we played this year I don't see next year going anywhere honestly, but if we can get together as a group of seniors, play hard, get our mind right I see ACC Championship."
"We got a lot of boys coming back, Camp, Tanner, J-Rock [Harris], DeAndre, the whole o-line's coming except Garrick [Williams], the d-line's coming back, [Mike] Olson, Justin Jackson, [Merrill] Noel, K.J. [Johnson], all them boys, so we got a lot of people coming back, a lot of seniors, a lot of talent, a lot of experience. I think next year can definitely be a year where we do something special."
On what has to change
"We got to play better. The mentality in the locker room is lacking, and that's something Coach Grobe has to address as the head coach and fix that. I'm a young guy. I don't think I have enough wisdom to really point out exactly what's wrong and fix it, so I think Coach Grobe is going to come in the spring and really change things around."
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