Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Head coach: Dave Clawson
2014 Record: 3-9; 1-7 ACC
2014 Bowl: N/A
2015 Returning Starters: 6 offense, 7 defense
Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +300000
Odds to win 2015 ACC Title: +4800
Regular Season Wins: Over 3 (-120); Under 3 (-110)
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Wake Forest managed just three wins last season (Garner-Webb, Army and Virginia Tech), but this season really doesn’t look much sunnier for the Demon Deacons.
The problems were multi foliate last year for Wake Forest: It started a freshman QB and its offensive line was one of its worst ever. The Demon Deacons allowed 48 sacks (most in NCAA D-1) and 37 percent of its run plays were for no gain or a loss. The team averaged just 3.4 yards per play last season, which ranked worst in the nation considerably so.
Second-year coach Dave Clawson expects improvement from the line, even though it lost two starters and will feature three redshirt freshman this season. He cites the freshman and the arrival of more playmakers as reasons it should improve, but that’s awfully optimistic.
QB John Wolford never really got into rhythm due to the poor OL, though he still found ways to improve, throwing just four INTs in the final seven games. He only threw two pass plays for more than 35-yards, though, and he’ll have two freshman (Kendall Hinton and Kyle Kearns) competing for his role.
Dez Wortham and Isaiah Robinson are back at RB but neither rushed for more than 20 yards all season nor are either really pass-catching threats to speak of. Clawson will give some attention to Rocky Reid, who was originally slated to go to Tennessee. Matt Colburn will add depth too, after choosing Wake over Louisville.
The WR are going to be better on the strength of Tyree Harris, a redshirt in 2014 who showed great promise as a true freshman. Tabari Hines will also be featured and was great in spring. Cortez Lewis, another freshman, will also be featured heavily in the slot. Cam Serigne led the Demon Deacons in all receiving categories and he’s back in the fold, too.
The defense finished middle of the pack in the ACC, which was impressive in its own way. The group returns seven starters and will have one of the best LB units in the conference. It’s also strong up front. The cornerbacks are gone, however (Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel).
The DL is capable of rushing, and it features Wendell Dunn and Josh Banks, who combined for 15 tackles for loss, as well as three forced fumbles and an INT. Even so, Clawson wants the line controlled better this season and Tylor Harris will have to be strong in the middle for that to happen.
At LB, senior Brandon Chubb and junior Marquel Lee combined for 210 tackles last year. That duo will team up with senior Hunter Williams as well as group of young guys. Clawson rests his laurels on that unit, saying “That position is the one..that we look like an ACC team.”
Top recruit CB Dionte Austin will see more playing time this year and starting safeties Ryan Janvion and Thomas Brown are both good, but are backed by redshirt freshman.
The Demon Deacons do have a very good punter to make up for its woeful offense. Alex Kinal is superb. The team even brought him to the ACC football kickoff—a punter. He’s that good.
Mike Weaver started his placekicking career by hitting his first 10 FG and finished the season 15 of 19. Wake lacks return specialists and needs to bolster that with an exciting freshman yet-to-be-seen, or it’s going to continue to surrender a lot of field position due to its subpar return units in the past few seasons.
Clawson inherited a veritable mess when he took over Wake. The team is still very young and not overly talented, which is a pretty horrid combination for winning football.
The offense may feature eight underclassmen starting and the schedule isn’t going to do the team any favors either. The Demon Deacons are at least one year away from being competitive, but Clawson is a good recruiter who should be able to propel this program back to respectability within a couple years.
Prediction: 3 wins