Head Coach: Dave Clawson
2015 Record: 3-9
2015 Bowl: N/A
2016 Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 7 Defense
Odds to win 2017 Championship Game: +200000
Odds to win 2016 ACC Championship: +14000
Regular Season over/under: 5.5 wins
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Wake Forest’s offense last season was hardly a cause for celebration, so returning nine starters from it hardly seems like it should be either. But there is something to be said for experience, even if it was a unit that only averaged 17.4 points and 333.4 yards per game in 2015.
QB John Wolford returns, and he threw for 1,791 yards last season with nine TDs. He will battle to hold his spot with sophomore Kendall Hinton challenging him. Hinton is a better rusher than Wolford, and he was second on the team in rushing last season with 390 yards and seven TDs. In the backfield, Wake will have Tyler Bell returning. The sophomore rushed for 451 yards last season.
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The OL returns four starters, the best of which is LT Justin Herron. Wake Forest averaged just 105.2 rushing yards per game last season, ranking No. 122 among FBS schools, but with the OL having experience and Bell and Hinton both in the mix, that figure should improve this season.
At WR, the Demon Deacons return a host of young talent that started to blossom last season. Cortez Lewis led the team with 47 receptions, and Chucky Wade and Tabari Hines both looked good in their first collegiate seasons. Senior WR Jared Crump is the only older player in the group, but he missed last season with a torn ACL. Junior TE Cam Serigne set the school record for receptions by a TE last season with 46, while racking up 562 total yards.
The Demon Deacons return seven starters on defense, and all four of its DL are back. Junior DE Wendell Dunn has started every game the past two seasons, and junior Duke Ejiofor returns after leading the team in sacks last season with 4.5. S Ryan Janivon returns and leads the team in career tackles with 282.
Marquel Lee led the team with 10 tackles for loss last season, and he will be counted upon heavily to replace the loss of Brandon Chubb. Chubb was the leader of the unit last season, so losing his headship will be a big loss. Sophomore Demetrius Kemp and junior Jaboree Williams will contend to start at LB, and former S Thomas Brown will also move to LB.
The defense has to improve after having a -13 turnover margin last season. Though Wake Forest gave up just 24.6 points per game, ranking No. 43, the defense was not quick enough and did not disrupt plays. While holding opponents to 363.8 yards is impressive in some senses, Wake has to force some turnovers to help compensate for its mediocre offensive output.
Mike Weaver returns as kicker, but he hit just 11 of 18 last season. Dom Maggio will be the punter. His dad was a punter for UCLA that was drafted into the NFL. Of course, he could be nothing like his father.
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Wake Forest opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Tulane. Week 2 they travel to face Duke, and then return home to host Delaware in Week 3. The season concludes with home games against Clemson and Boston College on Nov. 19 and Nov. 26.
Wake Forest has gone 3-9 each of the last two seasons, and while the team returns a lot of starters, what is it really building to? Wake Forest did stay in games last season, losing four by eight points or less, so presumably with the experience gained this team can manage to win one or two of those close games. We will go with ‘one,’ and expect a pretty modest improvement from the Deacons.
Prediction: 4 wins
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