#53 Wake Forest 2018 Football Preview

Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Overall Rank: #53
#10 ACC
 Wake Forest Logo
Wake Forest has continued to get better under Coach Dave Clawson. Following a couple losing seasons, the team won seven games in 2016 and boosted their win total to eight last year, including a 4-4 mark in ACC play and a win over Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl.
2017 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2017 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Texas A&M (W 55-52)
Coach: Dave Clawson (21-29 at Wake Forest, 111-109 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Warren Ruggiero
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Sawval
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Matt Colburn, RB, 904 yards
Passing: Kendall Hinton, QB, 399 yards
Receiving: Greg Dortch, WR, 722 yards
Tackles: Cameron Glenn, FS, 98
Sacks: Justin Strnad, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Essang Bassey, CB, 3; Justin Strnad, LB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Arkeem Byrd, WR Scotty Washington, OL Ryan Anderson, OL Phil Haynes, OL Justin Herron, CB Amari Henderson, DT Willie Yarbary, K/P Dom Maggio
Key Losses: QB John Wolford, TE Cam Serigne, WR Taban Hines, DE Duke Ejiofor, LB Grant Dawson, LB Jaboree Williams, S Jessie Bates, K Mike Weaver
The offense ranked second in the ACC in total offense and scoring offense. With most starters returning, there are high hopes that Wake Forest can keep it up. However, one of the few losses is a big one. Quarterback John Wolford threw for 3,192 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 683 yards and ten more scores. Junior Kendall Hinton played in five games last season, throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns. He will do damage with his legs, but it remains to be seen if he can be consistent in the passing game. Having receivers Greg Dortch and Scotty Washington back will certainly help usher in the Hinton era. With five starters returning to the offensive line, running back Matt Colburn should be in for a big year. He rushed for 904 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior and will get help from Cade Carney and Christian Beal.
The defense is where this team could struggle. They ranked last in the ACC in total defense last season and now have some big holes to fill. The line lost Duke Ejiofor and Wendell Dunn, who combined for 9.5 sacks. Sophomore Carlos Basham will be asked to emerge as the team’s top pass rushing threat. Demetrius Kemp is the lone returning starter at linebacker, but keep an eye out for junior Justin Strnad. He is a playmaker who tallied 4.5 sacks and three interceptions as a third down specialist in 2017. The secondary returns three starters, but this is also a unit that struggled last season. Cornerbacks Amari Henderson and Essang Bassey are experienced players and strong safety Cameron Glenn led the team with 98 tackles, but the unit as a whole has a lot of work to do, especially without Jessie Bates, who turned pro early.
The Bottom Line:
This will be an interesting season for Wake Forest. There is depth and experience, but the big playmakers are gone. The non-conference slate is manageable with games against Tulane, Towson, Notre Dame and Rice. The Demon Deacons should get half way to bowl eligibility right there. But the ACC will be difficult and the Demon Deacons need to find some new playmakers before a tough stretch of games beginning on October 6th against Clemson, Florida State and Louisville.
Projected Bowl: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 188.9 (37th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 276.8 (28, 3)
Total Offense: 465.8 (17, 2)
Scoring Offense: 35.3 (21, 2)
Rushing Defense: 185.8 (88, 10)
Pass Defense: 271.5 (118, 14)
Total Defense: 457.3 (112, 14)
Scoring Defense: 28.3 (76, 11)
Turnover Margin: 0.62 (22, 2)
Sacks: 2.15 (55, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.54 (33, 3)