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Dave Clawson is in his third year as head coach of Wake Forest and he has gone on the record saying his team will be “significantly better.” Whatever that means, remains to be seen as the Demon Deacons improved last year, yet still finished with just three wins, one in ACC play. At the least, a lot of those guys return, especially on the offensive side.
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Quarterback was still undecided in the spring with two different types of players in John Wolford and Kendall Hinton. Hinton is more of a runner, while Wolford can sling the ball a little more. Neither stepped up last season and that was the same in the spring. The two combined for just 13 TDs and 18 INTs a year ago. As a positive, most of the skill players are back to help out.
The Deacons were one of the worst rushing teams a year ago, compiling just 1,262 rushing yards for 3.0 yards per carry average. The rotation led by Tyler Bell (451 yards), followed by Matt Colburn and Isaiah Robinson is back. It’s a similar situation at receiver with tight end Cam Serigne (46 receptions, 562 yards, 4 TDs) being possibly their best target. Either way, Cortez Lewis (611 yards, 4 TDs), Tabari Hines and Chuck Wade all return as well at wide receiver.
The offensive line should be better, at least that’s the hope with four starters back to go with a little more depth. If they don’t make a big improvement this year, it will definitely be a disappointment.
Wake Forest had a decent defense last year and should be in that category again, despite some top linebackers gone. The line is fully intact with returning starters, including Duke Ejiofor, who is expected to have a breakout season. Holes at linebacker will be tough to replace, but Marquel Lee is still there and they’ll have multiple guys fighting for time throughout the season. At safety, Ryan Janvion is the key cog, while Brad Watson leads at cornerback. Some talent is gone, but the Demon Deacons have enough to remain competitive against better teams, now it’s just up to the offense.
A favorable non-conference slate should boost Wake’s win total, especially without Notre Dame on it. The Deacons could easily come up with three wins from that schedule and maybe even get an upset at Indiana. Winning early ACC games will be a little tougher, though, as they travel to Duke and NC State in their first two. Their best chances at wins come in home games against Syracuse, Virginia and Boston College.
With a good defense they can surely compete and with a slightly better offense, should pick up a win or two in ACC play. A bowl game is the goal this year and it wouldn’t be surprising if they hit that mark. The finale against Boston College could be a battle between five-win teams.
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2016 Wake Forest Demon Deacons Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Tulane
Sept. 10 at Duke
Sept. 17 vs. Delaware
Sept. 24 at Indiana
Oct. 1 at NC State
Oct. 8 vs. Syracuse
Oct. 15 at Florida State
Oct. 29 vs. Army
Nov. 5 vs. Virginia
Nov. 12 at Louisville
Nov. 19 vs. Clemson
Nov. 26 vs. Boston College
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