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Opponent Breakdown: Wake Forest Demon Deacons Offense

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Army at Wake Forest Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dave Clawson has been mocked for a while now about his “Clawfense” which uses unorthodox schemes that no other team does. Clawson is also on pace to win 10 games for the second straight year with an offense that can essentially score at will. Wake Forest has a balanced attack that creates big plays with an impressive vertical passing attack that is very hard to stop. This will be the season's biggest test for a Louisville defense that has improved as the year has gone on.

Sam Hartman is the best quarterback in the ACC and has a fair argument to be considered one of the best in the country. While Hartman may not have the skill set that some other top quarterbacks have, he is a master of his offense and he is unbelievably consistent. He can make all of the throws that this offense needs from him and while he’s not a great runner, he can extend plays and run for tough yards if needed.

What’s most impressive to me about Hartman is that he has no fear and doesn’t panic in the pocket. He stands in and patiently waits for plays to develop even after the slow mesh tactic that they use to keep defenses guessing. He knows what he’s waiting for and he will even take a sack or two while he waits for things to develop. So how does this Lousiville defense that’s been pressuring quarterbacks all season handle a guy who won’t be rattled at all? It’s a major factor in how this game will play out.

Wake’s running game hasn’t been overly productive over the last few years but this season has been a real struggle compared to recent history. Wake is averaging under four yards per carry and they are only putting up 143 yards per game on the ground. As we know, teams that don’t run the ball well have found some success against this defense so Christian Turner and Justice Ellison have to be contained. I’d argue that UofL has to make Wake one-dimensional to come away with a win, so they will need to take these guys out of the game with tackles for loss and run stuffs.

This will be the best group of receivers Louisville will see this season and I think it’s fair to say that it’s not even debatable. A.T. Perry is coming off of a 1200-yard season and the only reason that he isn’t putting up similar numbers is that there are more options for Hartman to spread the ball to. Donovan Greene was Wake’s highest-rated signing in school history and he is having a great year after coming back from an injury. Jahmal banks followed up a freshman season where he caught five passes to currently lead the ACC in touchdown catches.

That doesn’t even factor in Taylor Morin who had a field day against Louisville last year or Ke’Shawn Williams who is a very quick and explosive slot option. Every school has wide receivers who can put up numbers if given the opportunity but Wake has four of five guys who will create their own opportunities. Bryan Brown has had his secondary in man coverage a lot over the last few weeks but he will have to mix things up a lot more to make sure that he can keep this offense from breaking big plays.

Wake’s offensive line has always been stout and they have been solid again this season. They do a good job of protecting Hartman in the pocket though his tendency to hold onto the ball can lead to sacks. They haven’t been as good at opening holes for the running game but it is also tough to get a feel for how much of that is on the line as opposed to the scheme. What I do know is that UofL will have to have a strong game in the trenches like they have in a few games this season to disrupt this offense.