Florida State football hosts Wake Forest on October 4. This spot will be used to chronicle the Demon Deacons leading up to game week. I'll organize the teams together in the coming weeks.
Wake has a new coach and their fans are realizing that 2006 was likely lightning in a bottle that will be incredibly hard to capture again any time soon.
-Wednesday, May 14
Paul Myerberg, of USA Today, leads things off. This is just a portion, and you should definitely go get it.
In a nutshell: A coach well-versed in the ins and outs of rebuilding takes on another project: Clawson, as before, inherits a program fallen on hard times and aims for a leap into conference contention. In the case of Wake Forest, think more Fordham, less Bowling Green – meaning a losing season, not a bowl berth, and a year defined more by off-field results than Saturday's final score. Essentially, the Deacons are a team in flux – in terms of this personnel, which lags behind the ACC in most spots – undergoing a shift in scheme, philosophy and mentality under a new staff. As in most cases, it won't be a seamless transition.
The good news comes almost entirely on defense, where Wake can be fairly competitive from the start thanks to the ACC's most underrated secondary. The cornerback pair is terrific; the safeties are a step behind but perhaps deeper, thanks to Brown's strong offseason. Of concern defensively is this line, which lacks the proven depth needed to produce in the move to the new four-man front. But let's be serious: Wake's Achilles heel is an offense that lacks it all, from soup to nuts, and will struggle to put points on the board in and out of conference play.
The quarterback competition hasn't moved an inch. The backfield is short on talent. The receivers are promising but still young, so one imagines it taking another year before the group hits its stride. The offensive line is a strength, relatively speaking, but must land next-step play from the interior to survive against the ACC. In summation, it's a rebuilding project. But that's why you hire a Clawson, isn't it? His process begins in 2014 with Wake at the bottom of the ACC.
SB Nation's Bill Connelly is out with his epic 4,000-word Wake Forest preview. Obviously, you should read the entire thing and remember that a loss to Wake Forest (OK, several losses) finally got the ball rolling in getting a quality coaching staff back in Tallahassee. How long ago that seems now. Wake looks like a team poised to win 1-4 games. Here's a portion.
By October 4 of his first season on the job, Dave Clawson will have taken his team on the road to play a tricky, unorthodox mid-major (ULM), a relative mid-major powerhouse (Utah State), a new conference foe that has gone 23-3 in the last two years (Louisville) and the defending national champions (Florida State). Granted, there are also two innately winnable home games on the docket (Gardner-Webb, Army), but holy smokes that is quite the diverse, challenging slate right out of the gates.
Then again, the schedule really doesn't matter this fall. This is a Year 0 situation if ever one existed. It's going to take a while for Clawson to get his pieces in place, and he's proven in previous stops that he's not into shortcuts. He went a combined 3-19 in his first years at Fordham and Richmond, and while he may get to 3-9 in 2014, he won't get too far beyond that.
His sophomore class is intriguing and could become leaders of a resurgent team in a couple of years, but he just doesn't have the weapons this time around. This is a hard job, but it's going to be extra hard in 2014.