The Wake Forest Demon Deacons rarely get confused with a successful college football program and those outside of the ACC probably don’t even know the program is a member. The Deacs took a step toward rectifying that last season by posting the program’s first winning record in nearly a decade. Dave Clawson turned Bowling Green into a MAC powerhouse before leaving for Wake, and he has the Demon Deacons thinking big thoughts after surpassing the win total of the previous two seasons combined with a 7-win 2016.
2016 Record: 7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS, 6-7 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 5.5
National Championship Odds: +100000
Odds To Win ACC: +20000
Dealing with inconsistent play and injuries to their two quarterbacks, the Deacs had a hard time finding any consistency on offense, and as a result the efficiency lacked as did the production. A season-opening 7-3 win over Tulane showed us just what to expect from the Deacs all year.
And that game got Wake on a nice run to open the year. They followed with wins over Duke, Delaware and Indiana to get to 4-0 for the first time in 10 years. Things got a little dicey from there on out. Wake saw its win streak end at NC State and won just two of its final eight regular season games. The quarterback situation got a bit muddled when Kendall Hinton went down with an injury against Duke. He replaced John Wolford earlier in the season. Third-stringer Kyle Kearns even saw some reps. It didn’t matter, though. Wake threw for only 165.7 yards per game and ranked 124th in the FBS in total yards.
The season was defined by how it ended. A 27-20 win over Virginia in Week 10 got the Deacs bowl eligible, and when you’ve been bowling just once in seven years, it was kind of a big deal. It was more special after the Deacs knocked off No. 24 Temple 34-26 in the Military Bowl as a 10.5-point underdog.
Many questions about the offense still remain unanswered. Mainly, who will be the starting quarterback? Hinton is the fan favorite who showed signs of being a multi-dimensional threat. He completed 11 of his 19 passes for 174 yards and his 57.9 completion rate was the best of the three. He also scampered for 125 yards and a pair of scores before going down with a knee injury in the third game.
Wolford is back for his senior season after throwing for 1,774 yards and rushing for 521. Many of his rush attempts were forced after the line failed to hold up in protection. Either way, the Deacs need more out of the position to improve on last year’s numbers and it starts up front. The line allowed 39 sacks last season and failed to open holes for the ground game. Three linemen with significant playing time are back to anchor group that has potential, but lacks depth.
After overseeing a defense that allowed just 22.2 points per game and ranked 10th in turnovers created, coordinator Mike Elko took a similar job at Notre Dame. Jay Sawvel comes over from Minnesota to try and keep the unit running smoothly. The strength is up front with a line that rotates players and has one of the best in the ACC in Duke Ejiofor, who collected 10.5 sacks last season. The team appears to be improved but so does the schedule, and that could mean the Deacs are left out come bowl season.
Week 1: Wake Forest vs. Presbyterian, Thursday, August 31
Week 2: Wake Forest at Boston College, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: Wake Forest vs. Utah State, Saturday, September 16
Week 4: Wake Forest at Appalachian State, Saturday, September 23
Week 5: Wake Forest vs. Florida State, Saturday, September 30
Week 6: Wake Forest at Clemson, Saturday, October 7
Week 7: OFF
Week 8: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: Wake Forest vs. Louisville, Saturday, October 28
Week 10: Wake Forest at Notre Dame, Saturday, November 4
Week 11: Wake Forest at Syracuse, Saturday, November 11
Week 12: Wake Forest vs. North Carolina State, Saturday, November 18
Week 13: Wake Forest vs. Duke, Saturday, November 25
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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