Dave Clawson has a difficult task ahead of him turning the Wake Forest Demon Deacons into a competitive ACC football team in 2014. While he already figured he would be strapped for depth at some key positions as he transitioned the roster to his style of play, things have gotten a big more dire in Winston-Salem. With reports that running back Dominique Gibson has been suspended from the team for violating team rules the day before preseason camp was set to begin, Wake Forest’s already thin backfield looks positively anemic this fall.
The Deacons were already dealing with the worst rushing attack in the ACC from 2013 after they finished the year averaging just 95.42 yards per game. On top of that, the team’s top two rushers (Josh Harris and Tanner Price) graduated, leaving a wealth of inexperience to pick up the slack. Gibson was actually the team’s leading returning rusher after he posted 53 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown during his freshman season in 2013. Following spring practice, Gibson appeared to be in line for the starting job, along with converted wide receiver Orville Reynolds (9 carries, 36 yards in 2013).
Depending on how long Gibson is suspended for, Clawson will have to really do some digging to put together a workable running back depth chart. Reynolds can be an explosive playmaker and will be moving back to his natural position in 2014. The last time he was lining up at running back regularly was in 2011 as a freshman when he racked up 109 yards on 28 carries in just five games. But he won’t have a lot of help behind him this season as no other running back on the roster this fall had a carry in 2013. Former three-star junior James Ward figures to get his first real action this season along with the bigger redshirt freshman Dezmond Wortham.
Running back was already a position of weakness for Wake Forest as they were dangerously thin on experienced options coming out of spring practice. The suspension of Dominique Gibson only further weakens the group and makes Clawson’s job of achieving a quick rebuild at Wake Forest all the more difficult in 2014.