Dave Clawson is leading his program towards another winning season after being picked to finish at the bottom of the conference. It’s an annual tradition that is one of my favorites in the ACC each season. Clawson lost his top two players on offense over the offseason but he still has his team at 4-3 and should finish the regular season over .500 again with a chance at another win in a bowl game.
Clawson lost Jamie Newman to a transfer this summer but he had Sam Hartman as an experience backup to help lessen the blow. Hartman knows the offense well and has some running ability, so things didn’t have to adjust all that much. The quick passing game and RPOs are still there and Hartman is solid with his deep ball. Hartman has done an excellent job protecting the ball this year with no interceptions thrown.
Hartman has also been efficient as a passer. He’s completing 63% of his passes and his top receivers are maximizing their catches from a yards standpoint. As much as wake likes to get the ball out quickly, they are doing a great job of getting big plays from their passing game. Louisville has to tackle well after the catch as well as being sticky in coverage down the field.
Kenneth Walker opted out this week so UofL will only have to deal with half of Wake’s potent running game this week. Walker has 13 touchdowns on the season so he’s a major loss but Christian Beal-Smith leads the team in rushing and he has a great ability to hit the big play off of Wake’s weird RPO scheme. He rides the option really well and he knows how to search out his spots while doing so. CBS (I’m going with it) has really good speed in the open field and he has that ability that some shorter backs do to bounce off of tackles. If Louisville can slow down the run game, it would go a long way to slow down this offense.
The offense thought they would have Sage Surratt this season but he opted out to start the year and Wake needed to find a new go-to guy. Donovan Greene was the likely candidate after he stepped in late last year when Surratt was injured. While Greene is averaging 20 yards per catch, Jaquarii Roberson is the guy that really stepped up. Roberson leads the ACC in yards per game after putting up just 13 catches in the previous two seasons. Greene is the guy that I worry about more but with some of Hartman’s limitations as a passer, Roberson is the guy that is more likely to have a big game.
The Wake Offensive Line hasn’t been that impressive to me this season but they have done a good job opening up holes for the running game. The issue is that they haven’t protected Hartman all that well and they have been inconsistent. Wake’s offense is much better than it seems because they don’t do anything to hurt themselves. They’re not heavily penalized and they have one total turnover on the season. They don’t do anything outstandingly well outside of not doing anything wrong.