Head coach Dave Clawson took over the program at Wake Forest last season and definitely took some lumps along the way. This  youthful roster will return 13 starters from last year’s squad. The Demon Deacons will still be one of the youngest teams in FBS, but at least they have several players with that one year of experience. Unfortunately, their offense was historically bad last season and needs to make some drastic strides to be considered a contender.

How historically bad? Wake Forest’s offensive line allowed 48 sacks last year, most in the country. Their run game wasn’t much better, averaging just 3.4 yards per play while ranking last in the league in rushing by a substantial margin. In fact, 37% of the Demon Deacons’ runs went for a loss or no gain at all.

It’s safe to say it’s not Clawson’s fault, let him get a couple of recruiting classes of his own and really implement his system before we can make a judgement on his overall performance. He was left an empty shell of a team, so the bar hasn’t been set very high.

Last Season
ACC (Atlantic)
Record
ATS Record
Over/Under
Points For
Points Against
7th
3-9
6-6
4-8
14.8
26.4
2015 Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/3 Elon -24.5 1
9/12 @ Syracuse +10 0.23
9/19 @ Army -3 0.57
9/26 Indiana +4 0.38
10/3 Florida State +24.5 0
10/10 @ Boston College +20.5 0
10/17 @ North Carolina +14 0.15
10/24 NC State +13.5 0.16
10/30 Louisville +21 0
11/14 @ Notre Dame +24 0
11/21 @ Clemson +28 0
11/28 Duke +14 0.15
Estimated Wins: 2.64

The Demon Deacons face lowly Elon in their season opener, but Wake Forest shouldn’t take anybody lightly after last year’s debacle. Conference play shows up rather quickly, as Wake Forest’s first road game and second game of the season is against Syracuse. The Orangemen and the Demon Deacons are figured to be the bottom dwellers in their division. Up next is Army, a team the Deacons squeaked out a victory against last year in a 24-21 battle to the end. They return home to face Indiana and FSU.  The Seminoles put on a 43-3 whooping on Wake Forest last season. The Demon Deacons go back on the road for two in a row against BC and UNC. Two more tough opponents are on deck in NC State and Louisville at home, in which Wake Forest’s opponent won each game last season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier wrapping up the season with Notre Dame, Clemson, and Duke.

It’s crazy to imagine Wake Forest having any type of success with such a daunting schedule. I’m not expecting a huge turnaround here, but I do expect this Wake Forest team to gel a lot better than last year. A 2-2 record going into their contest against Florida State isn’t completely unbelievable, and nobody knows exactly what to expect from the Seminoles, but we can only assume that FSU will be a solid program.

Roster Breakdown

The quarterback position belongs to John Wolford for now. It took a while for Wolford to get comfortable last year, but eventually he fell in a little groove and only threw 4 interceptions in his final seven games. This could be correlated, however, to his lack of throwing deep (only two passes completed of 35+ yards in conference play). He will be in competition with Freshmen QBs Kendall Hinton and Kyle Kearns.

Isaiah Robinson and Dex Wortham are returning to the Deamon Deacons running game, however, both players have stone hands and couldn’t break a run of more than 20 yards last year. Some new recruits that might see the field quicker than expected are Matt Colburn and Rocky Reid, two highly touted prospects.

Tyree Harris looks to lead a young receiving corps that includes Freshmen Tabari Hines and Cortez Lewis. All three wide outs showed solid promise with above average spring sessions. The leader of all receiving categories last season is tight end Cam Serigne, who will likely be Wolford’s top target again this year.

The offensive line is where a lot of problems could arise. Clawson lost two key starters and has three redshirt freshmen inserted into this shaky bunch. With a coach in his second year with a program this could spell disaster for Wake Forest.

Wake has lost some serious talent this off-season on defense, including two veteran cornerbacks in Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel. The linebacker core could be the best in the ACC with senior Brandon Chubb, junior Marquel Lee and senior Hunter Williams. Chubb and Lee amounted for a whopping 210 tackles last year. The Demon Deacons should be better up front, but needs Tylor Harris to provide better run protection up the middle. Ryan Janvion and Thomas Brown are two decent strong safeties, but are both backed up by questionable redshirt freshmen.

Odds
Regular Season Win Total
ACC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
3.5
+13500
+250000
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

I have to go with my gut on this one. When I look at a team with a new head coach struggle in that first year, I tend to look at the average age of said team and how many starters are coming back. I tend to put a little more weight in these types of situations when it comes to certain angles. As I mentioned above, we have the youngest team in the ACC, but they will be returning 13 starters.

Character is a major factor when separating the good from the great. Clawson has the potential to bring out the best in these young kids, he’s a coach with sound morals and a stern approach. I’d like to imagine the players of this dismal squad were highly motivated during the off-season, getting better while keeping that nothing-to-lose attitude.  Lean toward the OVER 3.5 wins for the Demon Deacons.

2015 Projections
ACC (Atlantic)
ACC Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
6th
2-6
4-8
OVER 3.5

I asked a few other experts on Wake Forest football what they thought about the Demon Deacons’ upcoming season. Here’s what they had to say.

asa

ASA
ASAWins.com

UNDER 3.5 Wins – This is a tough call but we’ll push slightly to the UNDER. Wake finished 3-9 a year ago and while they should be improved as a whole, their record may not show it. This team was horrendous offensively a year ago. They averaged only 14 PPG on 216 total yards per game. They could not run the ball at all (40 YPG rushing). Two of their three wins last year came by 3 point margins. Their lone “easy” win was against Gardner Webb, a 23-7 final. Every loss but two came by double digits. Dave Clawson is a solid coach in our opinion, however he had almost nothing to work with when he took over. This is still a very young team with only 6 seniors on their entire team. We think Wake will get better under Clawson, but it will take at least another year. We’ll call for another 3-9 campaign and take the UNDER here.

Riley Johnston

Riley Johnston
BloggerSoDear.com

OVER 3.5 Wins – I think 3.5 is a very good o/u for Wake a Forest this year. You assign a .99 win probability to the FCS game, so that gets one right off the bat (and if not then the under is the right call anyway). From there, winnable games that are feasible include: Syracuse, Army, Indiana, Boston College, and N.C. State. Most of the other games would likely be considered unwinnable unless the Deacs sneak up on somebody (Louisville in Winston on a Friday night for example).

It really boils down to going 3-2 against that stretch of teams listed above. I think that 4 wins is certainly attainable, and if I were a betting man I would likely choose the over, probably right at 4 games!

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