Expectations for Wake Forest were rather low this week — they had filled in their loss column already with the likes of Syracuse and Indiana. It would be unreasonable to demand a better result in a game against a ranked opponent.
However, the Demon Deacons came in hungry, and they didn’t make it easy for Florida State, who ended up winning by just eight points in a game that came down to the final minutes. Even with Wake playing their backup quarterback, Kendall Hinton, they were able to stay competitive with one of the true powerhouse football programs in the nation.
This is the kind of performance a young team such as Wake Forest needs to find their footing in the ACC and give them the competitive fire to prove themselves worthy opponents to the conference elites.
Wake Forest’s defense offered a similar outing to what we’ve seen already this year — a resilient, hard-nosed force that shuts down the short game but leaves gaping holes for explosive plays. It’s becoming a habit of Wake’s defensive unit to stuff screen passes and runs, only to later allow 50 yard gains on simple plays. But it’s the offense that continues to hamper the team.
Whether it’s John Wolford‘s interceptions or Hinton’s incompetence in the passing game, the Demon Deacons’ issues start at the quarterback position. The weapons are there — Hinton’s early struggles were bailed out by some excellent catches — but overall, the team is limited by who is behind center. Ultimately, this will be the crutch that keeps Wake Forest in the bottom tier of the ACC this season, but it isn’t a death sentence.
The close battle against Florida State went a long way to show what Wake could be capable of in the long run.
There are only six seniors on the entire team, fewer than any other football program in the NCAA. And while that lack of experience may be weighing down on coach Dave Clawson’s shoulders right now, eventually this group will have grown up together into one cohesive unit. With the defensive prowess that Clawson has already added, all it might take from Wake Forest is a little more chemistry on the other end of the field to get them back to bowl-game territory.