Wake Forest is coming off another season in the basement of the ACC. The Demon Deacons finished up a 1-7 inside conference play and 3-9 overall. The exact same results they had in 2014.
On the bright side, Wake Forest was a lot more competitive on the field despite the poor results. The Demon Deacons had 4 losses by 8-points or less. That includes a 8-point defeat to Florida State and a mere 1-point loss to Louisville.
Not much was expected of Wake Forest in head coach Dave Clawson’s first two years on the job. Clawson didn’t step into a great situation and needed time to bring in his recruits.
Heading into Clawson’s third year on the job, there’s reason to be optimistic. The Demon Deacons made big strides in year two under his control and will have 16 starters back from last year.
They still have a long way to go before they can compete for the Atlantic title. However, their first bowl game since 2011 is within reach.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|10/1||@ NC State|
|10/15||@ Florida State|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
Wake Forest definitely has a favorable schedule to extend their season into December. The Demon Deacons have 7 home games in 2016 and only one is against a team that had a winning record in 2015.
On top of that, they get about as favorable a draw as you can ask for in the cross-division matchups. Wake Forest avoids the big dogs in the Coastal and gets matchups versus Duke and Virginia.
The non-conference portion of the schedule features three winnable home games. Two of those coming in the first three weeks against Tulane and Delaware. The other against an Army team they have beat each of the last four years.
You could argue that there’s only three games on the schedule they don’t have a chance in. Road games against Florida State and Louisville and a home game against Clemson.
One of the big reasons that Clawson has struggled to win in his first two years is a lack of experience. Just this past season the Demon Deacons only had 6 seniors on the roster.
While it’s still a very young team, they do have a lot players who now have some experience to fall back. The key to the season will be the progress they make on offense.
Last year Wake Forest managed just 17.4 ppg and 333 ypg. While that’s nothing to write home about, it was a big improvement. In 2014 they only averaged 14.8 ppg and 216 ypg. It’s not been four straight years in which the Demon Deacons have failed to average more than 20 ppg.
There’s a good chance that streak will come to an end, as 9 starters are back on offense in 2016. However, for that to happen they have to get more out of the quarterback position.
John Wolford and Kendall Hinton shared time in 2015. Wolford was the better passer of the two, while Hinton provided more of a running threat.
The Demon Deacons get back their top rusher from last year in sophomore Tyler Bell. Though he only had 451 yards on 129 attempts (3.5 yards/carry). He’s expected to remain the starter, but keep an eye out for freshmen Rocky Reid and Cade Carney.
Wake Forest has a pair of capable receivers back in wide out Cortez Lewis and tight end Cam Serigne. The two combined for 93 receptions, over 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns (4 each).
The offensive line returns four starters. Led by talented sophomores Josh Harris (C) and Justin Herron (LT). They also get back two senior starters, giving Clawson the strongest front five of his tenure.
For as bad as the offense has been the last four seasons, Wake Forest’s defense has played well. Last year they held opponents to just 24.6 ppg and 364 ypg.
They will have to overcome the loss of leading tackler Brandon Chubb, but do have 7 starters back. The strength will be the defensive line, which returns six players who started 4 or more games.
The loss of Chubb is big, but they do get back senior Marquel Lee at linebacker. Lee was a force in 2014 with 71 tackles, 3 sacks and 7 tackles for loss.
The Demon Deacons also have some nice pieces back in the secondary. That includes one of the conferences best corners in senior Brad Watson. They also get back senior safety Ryan Janvion.
Regular Season Win Total
ACC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
There’s a lot of factors pointing up for Clawson and the Demon Deacons in 2016. They go from one the most inexperienced teams in the country to one of the most experienced. They are now in year 3 under Clawson, which is when teams typically take that next step. They also have a favorable schedule.
While all the signs point to much better record, I’m not convinced it’s going to result in a big spike in wins. In fact, I have the Demon Deacons going just 4-8. My biggest concern is an offense that I’m not convinced can score enough points.
With that said, I do have a lot of respect for Clawson and what he did at Bowling Green. I wouldn’t be surprised if they exceeded my predictions and snuck into a bowl game at 6-6. I just think that’s more likely to happen next year.
Win Total Prediction