We're very fortunate to have the SB Nation network of blogs to work with during game weeks. This installment of our Q&A features Robert Reinhard, manager of Wake Forest site Blogger So Dear. Robert talks expectations for the Wake program, trying to contain the 'Noles, and the #Clawfense.
TN: The Demon Deacons sit at 2-3 entering Saturday's match-up in Dave Clawson's first season at the helm. How are you feeling about the Wake Forest program at the moment, and what are your expectations for the rest of the season?
BSD: I'm feeling excellent about the direction of the program, but my expectations are not that high for the remainder of the season. Clawson has brought a tremendous amount of energy to our program and assembled a very good staff during his first 9 and a half months on the job. He finished the 2014 recruiting cycle strong and brought in players who have already helped us this year (starting quarterback) and who will be factors as redshirt freshmen (OL Justin Herron and DL Rashawn Shaw). Obviously 2015 recruiting is still a long way from over, but Wake Forest currently has the 29th best class in the country according to Rivals, which would be by far our highest rated class of all-time.
As far as the rest of the season, I wouldn't be shocked if we did not win another game. But I think we also have an excellent chance to defeat either of Syracuse and Boston College at home. We had a 4th quarter lead at Louisville, which shows me our staff can ride our defense and overcome our offensive woes to a degree.
TN: The Wake defense finished last season at 41st in the country by F/+, and held FSU to one of its lowest yards per play figures of the year at 4.1. How has Mike Elko's unit held up so far this season? Has Wake's philosophy on defense changed, or is it a similar bend-but-don't-break style?
BSD: Our defense has done all fans could ask for at this point. We have three defensive or special teams touchdowns through three games, and I'm glad you bring up some advanced statistics, because our points per game allowed numbers don't do our defense justice. The defense actually only allowed 10 points against ULM because ULM scored a defensive touchdown of their own. Additionally, Utah State really only scored 20 points against our defense because they had two defensive touchdowns. Our secondary is quite good, and is one of the best in the ACC.
From what I can tell, Mike Elko is a more aggressive play-caller. He knows we have a very good secondary, so he sends me pass rushers, and allows the corners to play up more on the receivers. It was frustrating in recent years seeing our corners play so far off receivers and allow simple curl routes to beat us.
TN: In which match-up will the Demon Deacons defense need to have success if they are to hold the Florida State offense in check on Saturday?
BSD: I think our secondary is going to have to come up huge and make a few interceptions if we are to have any chance at all to win this contest. Please note that I believe we have no chance to win this game. Our offense is so inept at scoring and big plays, as Bud notes in his article, that we cannot allow big plays ourselves. Our secondary cannot get beat deep. If(when) FSU scores on our defense then we need to make sure it happens on a longer drive.
TN: The #Clawfense has struggled so far in 2014. How has this attack changed from Jim Grobe's spread offense that featured significant reliance on horizontal and misdirection concepts?
BSD: The #Clawfense has been simply atrocious this season and we are currently 126th in offense according to Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings. Our offense utilizes a lot of short to intermediate passes. We also utilize our tight end Cam Serigne a decent amount. It has some option principles as well, but that's something that's being implemented as the season progresses. You can see our offense add a few wrinkles every week. We currently don't have any true deep threats, so this will be something to track in future years how often we go deep.
TN: Which playmakers should FSU fans have their eyes on when the Deacs are on offense Saturday afternoon? Is there a match-up you think the Wake offense can exploit against the FSU D?
BSD: I certainly don't think there is any particular matchup we can exploit. Our main targets this year have been slot receiver E.J. Scott (number 17) and tight end Cam Serigne (number 85). Starting receiver Matt James had been another target, but he broke his hand against Louisville.
TN: Florida State opened as a 38-point favorite over the Demon Deacons. What do you want to see out of this Wake team against FSU on Saturday? Would you take them to cover?
BSD: I want to see our starting quarterback not get injured and I want to see our defense play well given the opponent and the amount of time they will be on the field. I'm judging this season on week-to-week improvements and I want our offense to take another step forward this week. We struggled mightily against Louisville, but that was by far the best defense we have seen all season. We face another excellent defense this week and I want to see us improve on last week.
If people took my gambling advice, we'd have a lot of people in debt, but I'm not really sure what to make of this line. With the new college football playoff, FSU doesn't have to run up the score on Wake Forest in order to look good in the BCS rankings. that said, I'm struggling to see how we put together much of an offensive showing in this performance, and FSU could easily have a defensive touchdown. I'd take the Noles to cover.