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FSU football opponent Q&A: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Can the ’Noles string together two wins for the first time this season?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Florida State at Wake Forest Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re very fortunate to have the SB Nation network of team sites to work with during game weeks. This week we’re chatting with SamuraiFoochs, a staff writer over at Blogger so Dear, SBN’s blog for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. We talked about hellscapes, yolo balls, and white claws.

TN: Last year we started this off talking about quarterbacks, only then it was Jamie Newman, who ended up transferring. Let’s start there again. In Newman’s place stepped Sam Hartman once again; and when we spoke last season you didn’t think there would be much of a drop-off from Newman to Hartman. Now that Hartman has had a second “full” season as the signal caller, this time putting up 10 passing touchdowns and just one interception in eight games, are you sticking with your original assessment? Two years ago you said Hartman had some bad interceptions when he had eight picks and 16 touchdowns. Is Hartman a lock for the starting job next season, and what do you make of his development?

Blogger So Dear (BSD): I think my assessment ended up panning out pretty well and I still pretty much stand by it. Sure, Sam didn’t light up the conference, but at a school like Wake, when you lose a weapon as insanely good as Sage Surratt (not to mention plenty of other turnover), you’re going to have problems. I’d definitely say Hartman is a lock to start barring injury, but much like Newman to Hartman, I feel like the people behind Hartman (Michael Kern most notably) have shown at least flashes of something in limited playing time. I’ll say this: perhaps Coach Clawson’s most valuable trait as a coach is that he absolutely shows an ability to create depth at pretty much every position, at least by Wake standards.

TN: The Demon Deacons have had quite an up-and-down season. They started off with two losses, ripped off four straight wins, and have lost their last two. It all includes two canceled games, two good wins over Virginia and Virginia Tech, a solid win over Syracuse, and two very close losses to North Carolina and North Carolina State by just nine total points. Are you happy with Wake’s season? Name something you’re proud of this Wake team for and something you’re disappointed by.

BSD: I’m proud of this team’s ability to make me seem like a doofus for thinking games are over; they manage to scratch and claw even in rough situations. On the flipside, though, I am really disappointed by the lack of consistency. Wake had a 94.1% chance of winning the game against UNC in the second half and then just...blew it. There’s no oof big enough for that one, as far as I’m concerned.

TN: Head coach Dave Clawson is nearing the end of his sixth season coaching the Demon Deacons. Going into this weekend’s matchup with Florida State, Clawson has a 40-44 (.478) record as the head man in Winston-Salem, which might seem bad but is just below Jim Grobe’s 77-82 (.484) record, though Clawson has yet to take Wake Forest to the same heights Grobe did. What’s your evaluation of the job Clawson has done? Are you satisfied? Disappointed? If there’s one thing you could change about the program, what would it be?

BSD: When you consider that 18 of those losses were in the first two seasons (3-9 and 3-9) followed by tearing off four winning seasons in a row and now a more or less even season in the hellscape bizarro world that is 2020, in terms of results on the field, I’m more or less thrilled, and honestly, as an overall body of work, any Wake Forest fan that has major issues with Coach Clawson’s OVERALL results is, well, kinda insane. It’s also very notable, in my opinion, that in the Grobe championship year, Clemson was NOT Alabama 2.0. Coach Clawson has a much taller mountain to climb, especially given we’re in Clemson’s division.

Probably the biggest thing I’d change is offensive scheme. I love a lot of what we do, but in my estimation there’s not nearly enough mid-range passing. It seems like our offense is a bit like me playing Madden. Running, or “screw it, going deep”. That’s not necessarily a compliment. Pretty much the only times we’ve had a better balance in that way were when we had weapons that thrived in that space who were literally too good to ignore (see Greg Dortch and Cam Serigne).

Wake Forest v Clemson
Dave Clawson loves Ruby Grapefruit White Claws. Allegedly.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

TN: Very good points. Let’s talk about this weekend’s game. Are there any matchups with FSU’s offense that concerns you?

BSD: I mean, big play receivers terrify me against this Wake secondary, so you look at a guy like Tamorrion Terry’s numbers (or Ontaria Wilson for that matter) and I’m instantly tugging my collar.

TN: Yeah, we’re gonna miss Scary Terry. On the flip side, are there any matchups that you like in Wake’s favor on either offense, defense, or special teams?

BSD: Well I would’ve said the one-two punch in the backfield of Christian Beal-Smith and Kenneth Walker III, but considering the latter is now sitting out due to COVID concerns, I think the guy I’d most look out for is Donavon Greene, our own big play receiver. Jaquarii Roberson is also a problem. I know I said “screw it, going deep” is a problem (and it is) but those two guys almost make it justifiable sometimes. Almost. Defensively, I would say Carlos “Boogie” Basham, but he didn’t play last game and I’m not quite sure what the situation is there if I’m being honest. Hard to know these days.

TN: Wake Forest opened as a whopping 11-point favorite over Florida State, but the line has since moved down to within a touchdown. If Wake wins it’ll be just the second win streak for the Demon Deacons in the series’ history. Wake won by just two points last season. Give us a score prediction - who wins this one?

BSD: Jeez, I don’t know. This season is so bizarre I can’t even begin to know what to expect, but my gut instinct is to go with conventional wisdom and say Wake wins a close, high-scoring affair, let’s say 31-28. That said, given the mercurial nature of frankly both of these squads and the fact that we’re in about year 17 of 2020, I could easily see this prediction being hilariously wrong one way or the other.

A big thank you to SamuraiFoochs for taking the time to chat with us! You can find him on Twitter here. Click here to read our answers to his questions. Don’t forget to check out Blogger so Dear for your Demon Deacon coverage needs.