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1. This isn't new territory
Wake Forest went 3-9 last season, ranked 101st in the F/+ ratings (behind Texas State, FIU, FAU, UL-Monroe, Kansas, and head coach Dave Clawson's former team, Bowling Green), and scored an almost impossibly low 178 points. It was the Demon Deacons' worst point total since 1996. Wake wasted a strong defense with one of the worst offenses in recent history (they scored 13 or fewer points in a game six times and never topped 24), and furthered the tumbling that marked the last half-decade of the Jim Grobe era.
After going 28-12 from 2006-08, Grobe managed one bowl bid and no winning records in his final five seasons. Clawson took over, saw minimal talent among the upperclassmen, and handed the team to freshmen. The results were horrendous and could have been worse -- only a 2-2 record in one-possession games (impressive considering the youth) kept the win total as high as it was.
That's the bad news. The good news is that Clawson has been here before and probably isn't alarmed about having to take his time.
The 47-year-old is already on his fourth head coaching job, and all of them have required foundation repair. He went 0-11 in his first year at Fordham and 3-8 at Richmond, and after inheriting an experienced Bowling Green squad and going 7-6 in his first year, he went 2-10 in his second.
Some coaches do wonderful work with what they inherit but struggle to maintain progress when the program is completely theirs. Clawson is the opposite. Before he reached Wake Forest, he was 24-47 all-time (a .338 win percentage) in his first two years at a each school and 66-33 (0.667) in years three to five. By his fourth year at Fordham, he had the Rams in the FCS quarterfinals. In year four at Richmond, the Spiders won the FCS title. In year 5 at BGSU, he won 10 games and a MAC title.
Clawson takes his time and wins. The question is whether he can keep up that trend at one of FBS' hardest jobs.
Wake's alumni base is absurdly small compared to its power-conference brethren, and there will always be limited revenue and minimal historical pull for recruits. Clawson didn't have to worry about recruiting against Florida State or Clemson when he was at Fordham. At Richmond, he wasn't losing program saviors to Virginia Tech. At each of his first three stops, he was able to quickly build talent that was equal or superior to his conference rivals. That's not going to happen in Winston-Salem.
Still, while a national title might not be in the plans, wins are. That he and his staff were able to maintain a top-40 defense in his first year was a nice sign, but patience is going to be required when it comes to fixing an offense that was almost too awful for words. That they won a game that was scoreless at the end of regulation -- 6-3 over Virginia Tech in double overtime -- is both apt and misleading; usually when your offense is this bad, the defense gives out.
With only four opponents projected worse than 60th (none after October 1), Wake's win total probably isn't going to improve much. But the defense is experienced enough to maintain form, and the offense has almost no choice to progress. If the Deacs can improve into the 70s or 80s this year, they could be positioned to make the Year 3 surge that Clawson patented in his former jobs.
2014 Schedule & Results
|Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 2-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 101|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|13-Sep||at Utah State||52||24-36||L||37%||-7.7||7%|
|4-Oct||at Florida State||15||3-43||L||6%||-37.1||0%|
|15-Nov||at NC State||55||13-42||L||7%||-34.5||0%|
|Points Per Game||14.8||127||26.4||63|
2. Semi-interesting at home, wretched on the road
Wake's 2014 schedule was conducive to wringing out as many wins as possible. Both Gardner-Webb and Army, the two worst teams on the slate, came to Winston-Salem, and Syracuse (the second-worst team in the conference) and Virginia Tech (a team with an offense bad enough to let Wake stick around) visited as well.
Sure, the trips to UL-Monroe and Utah State were cruel and unusual, but Wake was good enough defensively to win three games at home despite playing only two teams ranked worse.
- Average Percentile Performance (home): 38% (~top 80 | record: 3-3)
- Average Percentile Performance (road): 18% (~top 105 | record: 0-6)
The road trips were ritual slaughter. Wake couldn't score one offensive touchdown against UL-Monroe. The Deacs lost by 12 points to Utah State, by 40 to a Florida State cruising in third gear, and by a combined 49 to in-state rivals NC State and Duke. The trip to Louisville was semi-encouraging -- Wake led 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter -- but only because of a fumble recovery touchdown; Wake was outgained 421-100, and it was only a matter of time before Louisville pulled away.
When you're a young team, you're going to stink on the road. We'll see if that changes.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||26.2%||128||Succ. Rt. +||75.2||128|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||31.5||99||Def. FP+||97.0||101|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||3.3||125||Redzone S&P+||89.1||96|
|Q1 Rk||121||1st Down Rk||128|
|Q2 Rk||128||2nd Down Rk||123|
|Q3 Rk||105||3rd Down Rk||128|
3. You could tell from the opening snap
Moving from previewing Ohio State on Monday (first in Success Rate+, first in IsoPPP+) to Wake Forest on Tuesday (last in both) is like changing sports.
You could tell from the first game that Wake wasn't going to have a single thing to offer opposing defenses. The Deacs took a 7-0 lead on ULM because of a blocked punt recovered in the end zone but went three-and-out on four of their first five possessions (the other possession: a six-and-out that featured one first down). A 22-yard pass set up a field goal near the end of the first half, but not another Wake possession gained more than 16 yards.
Wake gained 94 yards against ULM, 1.9 per play, and ULM won because of a pick six and a late-game drive against an exhausted defense. The Demon Deacons managed five first downs against a defense that ranked 62nd in Def. S&P+. They had no way of pushing the Warhawks off of the ball, the receivers were able to make nothing happen after rare completions, and Wake's freshman quarterback got sacked six times in 28 pass attempts.
Not every performance was that bad, but Wake managed to to average more than 4.1 yards per play just three times -- against Gardner-Webb, Army (the second-worst defense in FBS according to Def. S&P+), and Duke. The passing game had semi-efficient moments, but the run game ... damn ... I didn't realize a run game could be this bad. In about 19 carries per game, Wake running backs managed to gain five or more yards in about four of them. That put infinite pressure on a true freshman quarterback.
Experience increases, but athleticism doesn't. With a sophomore quarterback, two sophomore running backs, a receiving corps featuring sophomores and juniors, and a line that boasts up to four sophomore or junior starters, this is still a young offense, one that stands to improve. But if there's a lack of pure talent, the ceiling will remain pretty low.
And the scary part of how bad Wake looked wasn't how bad the Deacs looked in the present tense -- it was how little hope there was for improvement.
Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|John Wolford||6'1, 205||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8435||214||367||2037||12||14||58.3%||55||13.0%||4.2|
|Kyle Driscoll||6'1, 190||RSFr.||NR||NR|
|Kendall Hinton||6'0, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8528|
|Kyle Kearns||6'2, 190||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8677|
4. If last year didn't ruin John Wolford, nothing will
John Wolford survived and is evidently coming back for his sophomore season. That is a success story. To say Wolford was thrown into the deep end is to ruin that cliché for any future use; a three-star true freshman, Wolford was asked by Clawson and coordinator Warren Ruggiero to start from the first day in the hope that early struggle would lead to future success.
That always looks good on paper, but when you get sacked 55 times and throw 14 interceptions, that can derail whatever you are envisioning. With no line and receivers that lacked separation, Wolford was asked to do too much, and his performance was predictably awful.
If there's hope, it's that his final game might have been his best. Against Duke in a 41-21 loss, he completed 24 of 36 passes (67 percent) for 251 yards, three scores, and no picks. Yes, he was also sacked four times (that goes without saying) and only averaged 5.8 yards per pass attempt, but improvement is improvement. The fact that he was still standing and playing well was a wonderful sign.
While two of Wolford's top three targets leaving isn't a happy thing, the fact that Matt James and E.J. Scott combined to average 5.6 yards per target (57 percent catch rate, 9.8 yards per catch) makes the losses palatable. Tight end Cam Serigne might have been Wake's most interesting weapon as a freshman, and the combination of juniors Jared Crump and Jonathan Williams, redshirt sophomore Tyree Harris, and South Carolina graduate transfer K.J. Brent should be more than capable of matching that meager production.
And in theory, if the running game ranks 100th instead of dead last, Wolford will be making fewer passing-downs throws and might actually be able to find a few open receivers before getting hit. But that might be pie-in-the-sky thinking.
(Meanwhile, if Wolford were to get hurt, then the snaps would go to either a redshirt freshman walk-on or another true freshman. But let's not think about that. Granted, the freshmen are pretty intriguing -- Kendall Hinton is a strong athlete who was in for spring, and Kyle Kearns was a four-star via Rivals -- but still.)
|Isaiah Robinson||RB||5'10, 215||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8308||94||166||3||1.8||4.2||17.0%||2||1|
|Dezmond Wortham||RB||6'0, 205||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8391||84||240||0||2.9||3.5||27.4%||0||0|
|John Wolford||QB||6'1, 205||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8435||49||122||0||2.5||1.9||28.6%||5||3|
|James Ward||RB||5'10, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8134|
|Rocky Reid||RB||6'0, 220||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8643|
|Matt Colburn||RB||5'9, 186||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8321|
|Tyler Bell||RB||5'11, 205||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8013|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Cam Serigne||TE||6'3, 245||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7938||70||49||469||70.0%||21.9%||52.9%||6.7||-114||6.7||70.4|
|Jared Crump||WR-S||6'3, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8162||46||26||280||56.5%||14.4%||39.1%||6.1||-42||6.0||42.1|
|Tyree Harris (2013)||WR||6'3,185||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8414||29||16||162||55.2%||7.8%||41.7%||5.6||-48||5.8||20.7|
|WR||6'4, 192||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8568||13||9||111||69.2%||2.9%||38.5%||8.5||4||6.8||16.7|
|Jonathan Williams||WR-X||6'3, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8307||13||7||98||53.8%||4.1%||61.5%||7.5||10||7.8||14.7|
|Isaiah Robinson||RB||5'10, 215||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8308||12||7||27||58.3%||3.8%||33.3%||2.3||-59||2.3||4.1|
|Dezmond Wortham||RB||6'0, 205||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8391||8||6||19||75.0%||2.5%||37.5%||2.4||-52||2.8||2.9|
|Devin Pike||TE||6'6, 245||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8422||7||3||8||42.9%||2.2%||42.9%||1.1||-32||1.5||1.2|
|Steve Donatell||TE||6'6, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8112|
|Brendan O'Neil||TE||6'4, 235||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8052|
|Cortez Lewis||WR||6'1, 200||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8107|
|Tabari Hines||WR||5'10, 165||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8347|
|Bowman Archibald||TE||6'5, 245||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8632|
|Steven Claude||WR||6'2, 190||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8631|
|Scotty Washington||WR||6'5, 210||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8544|
|Chuck Wade||WR||6'0, 200||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8251|
|Alex Bachman||WR||6'0, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8035|
5. Pretty good in 2017?
For obvious reasons, Clawson loaded up on running backs and wide receivers in his 2015 class. And from a "throwing numbers at a problem" standpoint, odds are decent that a couple will be good.
And if we assume incompetent freshmen might turn into semi-competent juniors and seniors, then with a veteran quarterback and improved line, there might be enough athletes to make something of the offense by 2016 or, more likely, 2017.
2015, however, will be about figuring out who can do damage in 2017. I'm not sure Isaiah Robinson and Dezmond Wortham are on that list. Robinson gained 85 yards in 22 carries against Army and Louisville (a meager 3.9 yards per carry average) but gained just 90 yards in his other 76 carries. Wortham took over and gained 68 yards in 12 carries against Florida State ... and 172 in 72 carries the rest of the way. They combined to gain only 46 yards in 20 pass targets, as well. It was difficult to divvy out fault between the runners and the blockers, but they were all bad.
Both Robinson and Wortham were low- to mid-three-star recruits according to the 247Sports Composite, so perhaps there is still a base of talent, but the floor is open for an incoming freshman like big Rocky Reid or Matt Colburn if they show promise in fall camp.
The receiving corps seems to have more promise (which is not the worst thing when you're in a pass-first offense), but it's going to take a while to figure out what incoming freshmen like Steven Claude, Chuck Wade, and big Scotty Washington can offer.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Dylan Intemann||RT||6'5, 305||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8469||28|
|Josh Harris||RG||6'4, 310||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8131||12|
|Tyler Hayworth||LG||6'4, 325||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8191||8|
|A'Lique Terry||C||6'1, 310||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8316||7|
|Will Smith||LT||6'5, 305||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8281||4|
|Joel Suggs||LT||6'6, 300||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8121||0|
|Cameron Gardner||RT||6'5, 285||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7892||0|
|Taylor Chambers||OT||6'8, 300||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8170||0|
|Justin Herron||OL||6'5, 285||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8472|
|Nick Luedeke||OL||6'5, 265||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8119|
|Nathan Gilliam||OL||6'5, 280||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8519|
|T.J. Haney||OL||6'6, 330||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8414|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||39.0%||35||Succ. Rt. +||105.2||44|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||29.7||76||Off. FP+||98.0||88|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||3.8||19||Redzone S&P+||120.3||17|
|Q1 Rk||35||1st Down Rk||54|
|Q2 Rk||80||2nd Down Rk||65|
|Q3 Rk||24||3rd Down Rk||10|
6. Wasting a strong defense
Clawson brought both of his coordinators from Bowling Green, and while Ruggiero struggled to maintain BGSU's form with the talent he inherited, Mike Elko found more to work with. He inherited a defense that had ranked 33rd in Def. S&P+ in 2013 and navigated it to a No. 37 ranking. Considering how much the D was asked to do, that's impressive.
It was also cruel. Wake Forest allowed 5.4 or fewer yards per play on seven occasions (the national average was around 5.8) but went 2-5 in those games.
The Demon Deacons' stats were an interesting mix. They were aggressive against the run, aiming for efficiency while occasionally getting gashed, but they were conservative against the pass, focused on preventing huge gains. Once they could leverage an opponent into passing downs, they were tremendous at closing drives, but efficient passing attacks could keep the Deacs on their heels.
The front seven returns all but one primary contributor, and the run defense should expect to improve, which is encouraging. But that one player (end Zachary Allen) was Wake's best pass rusher, and when combined with significant turnover in the secondary, the pass defense will almost certainly regress.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Wendell Dunn||DE||6'3, 250||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8367||12||30.0||4.3%||7.5||0.5||0||2||2||0|
|Josh Banks||DT||6'4, 275||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8192||12||27.5||4.0%||7.5||4.0||1||2||1||0|
|Tylor Harris||DE||6'4, 305||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8185||10||17.5||2.5%||3.5||1.0||0||0||1||0|
|Shelldon Lewinson||NT||6'2, 260||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8087||12||14.0||2.0%||3.0||2.0||0||0||0||0|
|Duke Ejiofor||DE||6'4, 275||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8200||10||11.0||1.6%||2.0||2.0||0||1||0||0|
|Zeek Rodney||NT||6'1, 295||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8735||10||4.5||0.7%||2.0||1.5||0||0||0||0|
|Ali Lamot||DE||6'2, 265||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8191|
|Rashawn Shaw||DE||6'3, 250||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8578|
|Willie Yarbary||DT||6'2, 270||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8152|
|Chris Stewart||DE||6'3, 260||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR|
|Chris Calhoun||DE||6'4, 240||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8423|
|Paris Black||DE||6'3, 240||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8420|
|Elontae Bateman||DT||6'2, 275||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8032|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Brandon Chubb||BUCK||6'1, 245||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7685||12||81.0||11.7%||6.5||3.0||0||3||2||0|
|Marquel Lee||MIKE||6'3, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8013||12||70.0||10.1%||12.0||4.0||0||1||1||0|
|Hunter Williams||ROV||6'0, 220||Sr.||NR||NR||12||45.5||6.6%||7.0||1.0||1||2||0||0|
|Grant Dawson||MIKE||6'1, 225||So.||NR||NR||12||10.5||1.5%||0.5||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Jaboree Williams||LB||6'0, 240||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8178||12||10.5||1.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Julian Thomas-Jackson||OLB||6'4, 220||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7700||11||5.0||0.7%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Donatell||ROV||6'6, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8112||12||5.0||0.7%||1.0||0.0||0||1||1||0|
|Teddy Matthews||BUCK||6'3, 240||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7833||10||3.0||0.4%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Zack Wary||LB||6'4, 220||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8448|
|Kalin McNeil||LB||6'1, 225||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8185|
|Justin Strnad||LB||6'2, 205||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8067|
|Nate Mays||LB||6'1, 210||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8029|
7. A potentially nasty front seven
Is there such a thing as an aggressive bend-don't-break defense? That's kind of what Wake pulled off.
The Demon Deacons were pushovers in short-yardage situations and were passive on standard downs pass defense; they stiffened in the red zone and graded out much better on passing downs. All of that screams "bend don't break."
But in attacking the run on standard downs and the quarterback on passing downs, they made an above average number of havoc plays; four members of the front seven had at least three sacks, and six had at least 3.5 non-sack tackles for loss. And in the secondary, five defensed at least four passes.
That the front seven's almost entirely intact is exciting. Marquel Lee enjoyed a breakout season, managing lovely havoc stats from the middle linebacker position, and both of his battery mates, Brandon Chubb and Hunter Williams (combined: 13.5 tackles for loss, six passes defensed) did damage as well. They're all back, as are every defensive tackle (including lanky play-maker Josh Banks).
If Wake can figure out the end position, this front seven will be one of the ACC's best. Losing Zachary Allen hurts the pass defense; sophomore Wendell Dunn proved excellent against the run but had only 0.5 sacks. If Wake has to blitz more, that could expose the secondary to big plays.
Perhaps the key, then, is Duke Ejiofor. The big sophomore end had two sacks in limited opportunities last fall and two more in the spring game.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Ryan Janvion||SS||5'11, 190||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8116||12||84.5||12.2%||7||0||0||6||1||0|
|Anthony Wooding, Jr.||WHIP||12||46.5||6.7%||1.5||0||0||5||0||0|
|Thomas Brown||WHIP||6'3, 220||Jr.||NR||NR||12||44.0||6.4%||6||2||0||3||2||0|
|Brad Watson||CB||6'0, 190||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8069||12||14.5||2.1%||0||0||0||4||0||0|
|Josh Okonye||CB||6'0, 200||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7992||12||13.0||1.9%||1.5||0.5||0||0||1||0|
|Zach Dancel (Maryland)||S||6'0, 205||Sr.||2 stars (5.1)||0.7000||10||12.5||1.5%||1||0||0||2||0||0|
|Jalen Latter||SS||6'0, 190||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8086||11||9.5||1.4%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|John Armstrong||DB||5'9, 165||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8116|
|Deonte Davis||CB||5'10, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7519|
|Thomas Dillon||DB||5'10, 180||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8104|
|Cameron Glenn||S||6'1, 200||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8289|
|Demetrius Kemp||S||6'1, 205||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8210|
|Dionte Austin||DB||6'0, 165||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8675|
|Amari Henderson||S||6'1, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8256|
|Jessie Bates||S||6'2, 185||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8129|
8. Got cornerbacks?
First things first: the safety position should be fine. Wake returns two of the most successfully aggressive safeties in the ACC in Ryan Janvion and Thomas Brown (combined: 13 tackles for loss, nine passes defensed). They are used almost as linebackers, and as long as the cornerback position holds up, they could put up lovely stats again.
But will the corners hold up? First-rounder Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel are gone, which means that younger players like Brad Watson and Josh Okonye will be asked to shoulder a heavy load. And if they can't, then Elko will have almost no choice but to turn to freshmen and redshirt freshmen.
If the run defense is as good as it could be, this should still be a top-50 defense, especially with these safeties. But there will probably be more big pass plays.
|Alexander Kinal||6'4, 205||Sr.||81||43.6||0||24||27||63.0%|
|Adam Centers||6'0, 195||So.||42||62.0||14||3||33.3%|
|Mike Weaver||6'1, 180||So.||19-19||12-14||85.7%||3-5||60.0%|
|John Armstrong||KR||5'9, 165||Jr.||22||20.3||0|
|Tyler Henderson||KR||5'9, 180||So.||9||20.3||0|
|Jared Crump||PR||6'3, 205||Jr.||18||7.2||0|
|Special Teams F/+||20|
|Field Goal Efficiency||38|
|Punt Return Efficiency||79|
|Kick Return Efficiency||87|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||99|
9. Wasting a strong special teams unit
It's hard to rank in the top 40 on defense and the top 20 in special teams but still rank in the triple digits overall. But at the least, it proves that the offense needs only to be competent for the team to be salty.
And while the defense has questions, special teams returns intact. Alexander Kinal is a wonderful weapon at punter (which makes him almost by default Wake's best offensive player), and place-kicker Mike Weaver was promising for a freshman. The return game could stand to improve but wasn't an outright weakness.
2015 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk|
|10-Oct||at Boston College||49|
|17-Oct||at North Carolina||44|
|14-Nov||at Notre Dame||16|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-18.7% (98)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||65 / 63|
|2014 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-2 / 1.0|
|2014 TO Luck/Game||-1.2|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||14 (7, 7)|
|2014 Second-order wins (difference)||2.4 (0.6)|
10. Improvement on paper, at least
When you hire Clawson, you're acknowledging that your next couple of seasons are going to be pretty barren. He doesn't take short cuts, and he's willing to suffer if it means breakthroughs.
That's good because Wake Forest isn't likely to improve much in the win column. The Deacs will be a significant underdog in every ACC game, and if they don't go 3-1 against Elon, Syracuse, Army, and Indiana, they will need an upset just to match last year's total even if they improve.
At the same time, Wake might be starting as few as five seniors. Experience should mean improvement on offense, and any gains could be doubled in 2016. With another solid defense and good special teams, I would expect Wake to improve into the 80s or 90s overall.