#87 Wake Forest Football 2014 Preview

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Overall Rank: #87
#14 ACC

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Wake Forest begins a new era under Coach Dave Clawson. And outside of back-to-back wins at home over North Carolina State and Maryland, there was no reason to be excited about a 4-8 2013 season. In the long run, Coach Clawson should have some good years with the Demon Deacons, but for now the system changes will keep this program towards the bottom of the ACC.

2013 Record: (4-8, 2-6)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Dave Clawson (0-0 at Wake Forest, 32-32 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Warren Ruggiero
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Elko

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dominique Gibson, RB, 138 yards
Passing: Tyler Cameron, QB, 85 yards
Receiving: Tyree Harris, WR, 225 yards
Tackles: Ryan Janvion, S, 95
Sacks: 4 tied with 1.0
Interceptions: Merrill Noel, CB, 3; Kevin Johnson, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR John Armstrong, P Alexander Kinal

Key Losses: RB Joshua Harris, QB Tanner Price, WR Michael Campanaro, TE Spencer Bishop, DL Nikita Whitlock, DE Zach Thompson, LB Justin Jackson, LB Mike Olson, OL Frank Souza

If Wake Forest is going to think about reaching a bowl game, it will be on the shoulders of the defense. The move to a 4-2-5 scheme will be beneficial in the long run, but for now filling in those four spots on the line is problematic. The loss of tackle Nikita Whitlock is huge. Zachary Allen, a former linebacker, should grab one of the end spots. He was productive as an underclassman and missed last year with an injury. The back seven has much more experience. Brandon Chubb is back to lead the linebackers after tallying 87 tackles in 2013. Marquel Lee, Teddy Matthews and Hunter Williams all have the talent to turn into very effective linebackers. Williams will likely be the fifth man in the secondary, holding the hybrid spot. Strong safety Ryan Janvion had a great freshman year, collecting 95 tackles. Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel are two of the better cornerbacks in the ACC.

The story on the other side of the ball is not as promising. The big three of the Demon Deacons offense last year, quarterback Tanner Price, wide receiver Michael Campanaro and running back Joshua Harris, are gone. The quarterback position will be manned by sophomore Tyler Cameron or junior Frank Sousa. Cameron was Price’s backup last season, with little success. The quarterback will have to lead a new system that, in theory, will fit the personnel that Coach Clawson has to work with. That means moving former running back turned flanker, Orville Williams, back to running back. Wide receivers Tyree Harris and E.J. Scott will provide Cameron or Sousa, or perhaps both, with decent options down field. But this is a team that averaged a mere 18.3 points per game last year and never scored over 21 points in their eight losses. And that was with a lot more talent and a familiar system.

The Bottom Line:
If the offense is going to do better than they did last year, it will be because the offensive line paves the way. The unit was very bad at times last season, but they were also young too. A year of experience under their belt is only going to help, especially for players like Cory Helms, who showed plenty of promise as a freshman. With contests against Louisiana-Monroe, Gardner-Webb, Utah State and Army to kick off the season, Wake Forest should be at least 3-1. With home games against Syracuse and Boston College, it is not inconceivable that the Demon Deacons could head into November needing just one win to become bowl eligibility.

Projected Bowl: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 94.1 (116th in nation, 14th in conference)
Passing Offense: 196.6 (96, 11)
Total Offense: 290.7 (118, 14)
Scoring Offense: 18.3 (114, 14)
Rushing Defense: 143.2 (34, 5)
Pass Defense: 223.0 (51, 7)
Total Defense: 366.2 (32, 5)
Scoring Defense: 24.1 (38, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.2 (74, 11)
Sacks:  1.92 (71, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (70, 9)


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