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Opponent Breakdown: Wake Forest Demon Deacons Defense

Wake’s defense still has issues but they’re bringing back some of the havoc they’ve missed lately.

North Carolina State v Wake Forest Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

I feel like I watch this every year but Wake Forest has struggled on defense since Mike Elko left the staff. This season seemed like it could be different because they got Carlos Basham back and had a group of young guys who could possibly take a step forward. Instead, Wake’s defense has been about as unreliable as it has been in recent years save for one big improvement. This defense can force turnovers and they do a very good job of it.

Boogie Basham is the star of this defense and he will likely be a first or second round draft pick in a couple of months. The defense is built on creating havoc and Basham is really good as an edge rusher as well as a guy who can chase down plays. Basham has a freakish blend of size and speed at 6-5/285. He can run like an end but has the size to hold his ground. I’d imagine Louisville will try to avoid him with the run game while looking to give help in pass protection.

The rest of the Defensive Line is solid but not great. Miles Fox has had a strong season and I do wonder if he could show out against the run this weekend. He’s a bit undersized but he’s quick and gets off the ball with good burst. That’s usually not great with UofL’s blocking scheme.

The Linebackers are very experienced and make a good amount of plays for this defense. Ja’Cquez Williams and Ryan Smenda do a really good job of taking advantage of the havoc the front four causes. The issue is that they haven’t been able to make many plays behind the line of scrimmage. As a team, they’ve gotten a good amount of tackles for loss but they haven’t gotten to the Quarterback nearly enough. Louisville has to avoid allowing this group to create mayhem for the offense.

Wake has had some real turnover in the secondary with two true freshmen slated to start this weekend. Injuries hit them hard on top of having to replace veteran starters from last season. Ja’Sir Taylor has been flat out great in the games that I’ve watched. I’d argue that he is one of the best corners that Louisville will see this year. Caelin Carson is the guy that UofL should target as he is a true freshman that hasn’t made a lot of plays this year. UofL took advantage of the aggressive nature of this defense last season. We should see the same this season.

Safety is a weak spot on the defense in my opinion. Luke Masterson has played Safety and Linebacker at his time at Wake and he’s a solid player and good player against the run. I think that the added bulk that he’s put on has made him a step slower and he can be a liability with how aggressive they like to be. Nick Anderson is a walk-on true freshman at the other Safety spot and while he’s definitely good enough to be a scholarship player, he is not a consistent talent. Anderson had three interceptions against Virginia Tech but he’s also given up some big plays because he’s been caught out of position. UofL should attack these guys all day.