There are two televised spring scrimmages this Saturday in the ACC. North Carolina State will be televised on the ACC Extra Network at 1 pm EST and Wake Forest plays at 3 pm EST but the TV network is still TBA (likely will be somewhere on the WatchESPN platform). Here are a few things that I’ve learned thus far as well as some things that I will be looking for.
Wake Forest’s John Wolford was one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 college football season. He moved on, and the QB1 role will now be assumed by Kendall Hinton. In Wake’s first scrimmage of the spring, he was the leading rusher in both attempts and yardage with 109 on 13 and a TD. His passing was more erratic, and he finished with a 5-13 effort for a paltry 83 yards and a TD. The second scrimmage was better for him as he completed 12 of 18 passes for 113 yards and a TD. The passing attack was very potent last season under Wolford’s guidance, but I believe the ground game will be more heavily emphasized in 2018. Sam Hartman and Jamie Newman are both competing for the backup QB role. Hartman was a highly regarded recruit this year and is likely the QB with the most pro potential on the roster.
Wake has several talented backs that should get carries in 2018. Matt Colburn should be the lead dog after finishing with 166-904-7 rushing last season. He contributed very minimally as a pass catcher in 2017 with just eleven catches. Cade Carney was productive in 2016 as he finished with 156-589-6 rushing but dealt with injuries in 2017 and was used sparingly. Carney is better built for short yardage and goal line work which could muddy the water for CFF valuation purposes. The third and fourth back that I could see establishing some sort of role would be rFR Christian Beal and rJR Tyler Bell. In the second scrimmage, Beal ran for 70 yards on 11 carries while scoring 2 TDs. Bell had 129-451-1 as a TrFR in 2015 but dealt with various issues in 2016 and 2017 and contributed very little.
If you are talking WRs at Wake, you gotta start with Greg Dortch. In 2017, the rFR played a major role in the renaissance of the Demon Deacons’ offense. According to PFF, Dortch had 2 drops on 55 catchable targets for an elite 3.64 drop rate. In total, he had 73 targets, made 53 receptions (72.6% catch rate) for 722 yards and nine TDs. He was fantastic after the catch and racked up 478 of his 722 yards after the catch. Dortch forced 13 missed tackles after the catch which was tied for 16th most among all FBS WRs. Unfortunately, his fantastic season was cut short by injury, and he missed the last five games of the season. At 5’9 and 165 pounds, he is small for even a slot receiver’s standards. His skill is immense and while I’m unsure if the QBs and offense this season will allow him to surpass the incredible numbers from his freshman season, he still should be on the path towards a fruitful career as a professional. The yin to his yang is rJR Scotty Washington. At 6’5” and 225 pounds, Washington has the frame to box out defenders on in-breaking-routes and also go up and win during contested catch situations. He came on strong at the end of last season and saved his best for last, putting up 9-138-1 against Texas A&M in the bowl game. James Sriraman, Steven Claude, and Waydale Jones have been productive in at least one of Wake’s first two scrimmages this spring. rFR Waydale Jones is a player that I will be watching for CFF and Devy purposes. At 6’4” and 185 pounds, he has a great frame for a WR. In his final season of high school ball, he ranked in the top five nationally with 120 receptions, 1,979 yards, and 30 touchdown catches!
At TE, Wake will have to replace one of their most productive players in program history, Cam Serigne. He finished his career with 174-2075-21 receiving! This offense will utilize the TE if they can create an advantage for the offense. Based on what I can gather through the first few weeks, Brandon Chapman appears to be a viable option for CFF purposes. I will be looking forward to the scrimmage to see him move live and see how he is utilized.
Wake Forest has made some nice strides under the guidance of Dave Clawson. He is a good football coach that was perhaps initially hindered at Wake after the discovery of a media member leaking their offensive game plans and playbooks to opposing teams. Once that stopped, Wake went from 311 yards per game at 4.6 yards per play in 2016 to 466 yards per game at 6.3 yards per play in 2017. The defense has been solid for Wake over the years, but they will need to replace some good players in 2018. I am not all that familiar with Wake’s talent on defense, but the name I would submit for the IDP watchlist would be rSO DE Carlos “Boogie” Basham.