Wake Forest took a slight risk when they hired Dave Clawson away from Bowling Green a few years back. Clawson was taking over a Wake program that was lacking talent, prestige, and fan support. The school served him well by being patient with him and allowing his plan to play out over some rough seasons. Clawson finally got his team to a bowl game this year and he has a solid chance at 8 wins. Wake doesn't have a great offense, but they're very opportunistic and they have some big play capabilities.
Louisville hasn't had to face many running quarterbacks this year but Wake will change that. John Wolford is the best running quarterback that Louisville will see this year. He's averaging 7.3 yards per carry when you take out sacks , which is about 3 more yards than Deshaun Watson and Greg Ward. Wolford is a slick in the pocket and he can also break a long run if he gets a seam. Wolford is not a great passer, but he's serviceable and he spreads the ball around well. One area that Louisville could see some success is with pressure in Wolford's face. He's only 6-1 and he tends to rush things a bit when he gets uncomfortable. That could lead to some sacks and turnovers.
Former Louisville commit Matt Colburn was able to find a home at Wake after having his scholarship pulled late in the process two years ago. Colburn leads the Deacs in carries and he's the leading rusher on the team with Wolford's sack yardage pulling his number down. Colburn shares carries with true freshman Cade Carney and they both are averaging right around 4.2 yards per carry. Neither back is going to break out a big run or make a guy miss, but they do well with what is asked of them. Wake is going to pound those guys in between the tackles and let them burrow for a few yards here and there. They're don't do a lot of east and west running because they lack the speed and they know it. Louisville didn't handle Virginia's interior runs too well two weeks ago so Wake could have some success there.
Wake has 5 guys that will be targeted by Wolford. In my opinion, the depth at receiver is why Wake has been able to put up some poins and win some games this year. Tabari Hines leads the team in targets and catches while Cortez Lewis is the teams most likely deep threat. Cam Serigne is the tight end for the Deacs and it seems like they've finally remembered how good he is after not getting him the ball much in some games. Serigne isn't as fast or athletic as Cole Hikutini but he can make some impact plays like a Jordan Leggitt. Wake only has 5 passing touchdowns on the season, but they have enough trusted guys that they can move the ball with their passing game. Louisville might not be able to just load the box like they did against BC and teams have been able to make a handful of plays when Louisville is spread out.
The Wake offensive line is hard to judge because of the fact that Wolford holds on to the ball too long at times and he likes to run around and keep plays alive. Throw in the fact that their running backs aren't fast enough to blow through open holes and it's somewhat unfair to blame the line for the offense being ineffective or for giving up over 20 sacks. Wake has done a great job of negating negative plays outside of the sacks and the line definitely deserves credit for that.
KEY PLAYERS: QB John Wolford, WR Cortez Lewis, WR Tabari Hines