Elon, Army, Boston College
Syracuse, Indiana, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Clemson, Duke
Series leader: Louisville (3-0)
The Cards lead the series against the Demon Deacons three games to none. The last time these two teams played, Louisville squeaked out a narrow 1-point victory. Lamar Jackson would get the nod as he threw for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns. On both of his touchdown passes, Jackson found receiver Jamari Staples. Staples had himself quite a day as he had 10 catches for 133 yards and 2 touchdown receptions. The Louisville defense really had a day to brag about with 4 different players securing an interception. 3 of those interceptions came off of Wake Forest’s starting quarterback John Wolford while the 4th pick was grabbed off of Kendall Hinton.
2015 was a rough season for the Demon Deacons as they went 1-7 in the ACC and 3-9 overall. Their one win in the ACC was against Boston College. But unlike Boston College, who had an equally bad season, Wake Forest doesn’t get to brag about having one of the best defenses in the nation. Their other two victories came against Elon and Army. While Army doesn’t pop out as a tremendous win, it is always difficult to go against a team that runs the option. The only real blow out that the Demon Deacons suffered was a 50-14 loss to a North Carolina team that played in the ACC Championship game.
Dave Clawson is heading into his 3rd season with the Demon Deacons, and it has not been a successful tenure so far. He’s posted back to back 3-9 campaigns and going 1-7 in the ACC in both years. Clawson has head coaching experience at Fordham (1999-2003), Richmond (2004-2007), and Bowling Green (2009-2013). Overall as a head coach he is 96-97 and hasn’t won a bowl game/playoff game.
Wake Forest will bring back 15 starters (8 offense, 7 defense). On defense, 5 of those starters are in the front seven. Brad Watson, who led the team last year in interceptions with 2, comes back as a standout in the secondary. Watson is also the leading returning tackler with 72 tackles in 2015. While not a full-time starter, Duke Ejiofor (cool name) returns after having 4.5 sacks in his sophomore campaign.
Tight end Cam Serigne comes back and is probably one of the best tight ends in the ACC. Serigne has 100 receptions in his first two seasons. Last year, he had 46 receptions for 562 yards and 4 touchdowns. Wide Receiver Cortez Lewis was thrown into the fire as a freshman starter. He followed through with that big task with by leading the team in receiving with 611 yards on 47 receptions and 4 touchdowns. He was able to put up these numbers despite the quarterback position not fully being settled.
Wake Forest will bring back two guys who saw extensive action last year on the field. Sophomore John Wolford saw the most playing time, but he had freshman Kendall Hinton right on his heels. Wolford only threw for 1,791 yards for 9 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He wasn’t too much of a threat in the run game, either. Despite rushing 73 times, he only had 67 rush yards, but did register 3 rushing touchdowns.
Kendall Hinton tried to stake his claim as the starter as a freshman. He managed to throw for 929 yards for 4 touchdowns with 5 interceptions. He was a better option in the run game as he was the more elusive runner of the two. He recorded 390 rushing yards for 7 rushing touchdowns on the year. His 390 rushing yards was second on the team behind running back Tyler Bell’s 451 rushing yards. Hinton’s 7 rushing touchdowns did lead the team, though.
The offense is going to need to find an identity in order to start winning more games. Last year, they ranked second to last in the ACC in scoring (only behind Boston College). The quarterback position is going to need to be figured out first and foremost for the Demon Deacons to get started on the right track. It’s also not a great sign when your freshman backup quarterback has more rushing touchdowns than your starting running back. Wake Forest’s passing offense ranked 8th in the ACC last year while the rushing offense was dead last in the conference. They would have given up the most sacks in the conference (40) too had Louisville not claimed that stat (44).
The defensive line will be a tough match-up to go against as four upperclassmen are currently projected to start. Duke Ejiofor will be dangerous off the edge where he tabbed 4.5 sacks last year as a sophomore. Wendell Dunn had just 1 sack, but did record 7.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
4 players to remember
Duke Ejiofor: Defensive end who registered 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore.
Brad Watson: Defensive back who led the team in interceptions (2) and is the returning leader in tackles from a year ago (72). He also had 16 passes broken up and forced a fumble.
Rocky Reid: Redshirt freshman who was once a Tennessee commit and has created anticipation within the Wake Forest fan base.
Cam Serigne: Coming off a year where he had 46 receptions for 562 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s also tabbed by some as being one of the best tight ends in the ACC.
Honestly, this game gets my vote as probably going to be the most boring game on the Cards schedule this fall. Wake Forest doesn’t have the offensive power with the likes of Clemson or Florida State. They won’t field a defensive juggernaut like Boston College does. While they should be more competitive than Charlotte, the game against the 49ers will be more exciting as it’s the opening game of the season. This game comes before the match-ups against Houston and rival Kentucky, so most of everyone’s anticipation will be on those last two games. Also at this point in the season, we’ll know if the Cards are in contention with a premiere bowl game or not, and I don’t envision Wake Forest having the ability to alter that against an offense led by Lamar Jackson and a defense that will be one of the top defenses in the ACC. Although kickoff time hasn’t been announced yet, this is more than likely a noon game.