Wake Forest started the season hot with a four game winning streak, but a three game losing streak has them back to where they were last year, hoping to get into a decent bowl game. The win streak was a big surprise because their offense has finally shown the ability that fans expected when Dave Clawson was hired. Wake is better running the ball but the passing game has really been the story.
John Wolford is the first quarterback in Wake history to start four season openers. Clawson hitched his wagon to Wolford when he signed him and he’s played well for the offense overall. This year, Clawson stopped the musical chairs and gave the offense completely to Wolford. He’s completing a little over 61% of his passes and he’s also leading the team in rushing. This offense has been very efficient and Wolford protects the football very well. Wake is second in the country with only 4 turnovers on the season.
The Deacs do a really good job with their interior read option plays. Wolford is really decisive on his reads and can get plenty of yardage as a runner. He won’t break a long touchdown run but Wolford is plenty good enough to break off a 20-30 yard run on an option play or a scramble. I really like how they use the option to set up play action. They will run the same exact action with Wolford standing up from the action and throwing. It’s quick and it makes it very hard for the defense to diagnose. It also gives the offense some one-on-one matchups outside and they have the speed to win those most of the time.
The running back spot for Wake is flat out weird. Cade Carney is the starter with Matt Colburn listed as “or” on the depth chart. However, neither one of them is as good as the guy that’s listed third. Arkeem Byrd is a reshirt freshman with really good speed. He won’t really run over a guy like Carney but he will likely run by one. I don’t know if Clawson prefers the other backs over Byrd because of his blocking or something of that sort, but he should probably be getting a lot more carries.
The wide receiver position is where you can really see the improvement on offense. Greg Dortch hasn’t really gotten the notoriety that Dez Fitzpatrick has but he’s put up better numbers as a freshman. Dorth is the team’s leader in catches, yards, touchdowns, and yards from scrimmage. He is a small player but the Deacs will put him in the slot and outside. They really like to use him on slants off of the play action I described above. Linebacker get sucked into the line and Dortch just has to beat a safety or nickel on a slant. He’s going to win that every time.
The rest of the receivers are underutilized in my opinion. While Dortch has 64 targets on the year, the next highest total is 25 for Scotty Washington. In my opinion, they have to find a way to get Cortez Lewis and Tabari Hines more touches. Both of these guys have big play ability and they would stop teams from being able to scheme against Dortch. Washington is their big play receiver at 6-5 and 225 pounds but they haven’t been able to connect much on those 25 targets. The smaller and quicker guys in this group are making plays when their number is being called but they’re not spreading it around nearly enough.
You could make the argument that Cam Serigne is the best tight end in the ACC. But, for whatever reason, Wake doesn’t get the ball to him nearly enough. Serigne has the size and speed that you want and he has the ability to find soft spots in the defense. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been used more but Clawson would be silly to not find some targets for him this week. Louisville has been eaten up by tight ends all season.
The offensive line has done a very good job of protecting Wolford this year. His mobility and quick passes help but the line has kept the pocket very clean when the first option isn’t open, also. Louisville got some pressure on James Blackman last week but I’m not so sure that that success will transfer over to this game. The run blocking has been pretty rough but I do think some of that has to do with the vanilla designs. They run a inside read option play more than anything else and the defense has to know it’s coming.