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Schedule Preview: Wake Forest

Dave Clawson returns a veteran-laden group again

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Boston College Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

As we work our way towards the start of Florida State Seminoles football season, Tomahawk Nation is taking the time to break down the Seminoles schedule. This week, a look at last year’s conference surprise breakout team, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

The most surprising team in college football for 2021 was probably the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (maybe they’re not the top of your list, but they certainly belong on the medal stand.) The Deacs rattled off 8 straight to open the season, including a victory against the Florida State Seminoles, before splitting each of their final six contests. One of those games was a loss to the Pitt Panthers in the ACC Championship Game.

When they meet this season, FSU will try to avoid its first three game losing streak to Wake Forest since 2006-2008 and it won’t be easy as WF again returns a ton of their starters, most notably wide receiver A.T. Perry who is garnering some pre-season All-American buzz already. That’ll make Dave Clawson’s group experienced and confident after already showing their ability to compete at a high level.

Opponent: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Date: Saturday, Oct. 1

Time: TBD

Last matchup: Sept. 18, 2021 - Loss 35-14

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Team Preview

2021 record: 11-3, ACC Atlantic Division Champions

Names to Know

Junior Wide Receiver A.T. Perry

  • 71 receptions, 1,293 yards, 15 TDs, 18.2 yards per reception

Junior Quarterback Sam Hartman

  • 4,228 yards, 39 TDs, 14 INTs, 58.9% completion percentage; 363 rushing yards and 11 TDs

Junior Defensive Lineman Rondell Bothroyd

  • 36 solo tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries

Sophomore Wide Receiver/Returner Taylor Morin

  • 43 receptions, 621 yards, 5 TDs; 9.4 yards per punt return; 18.9 yards per kickoff return

Florida State Seminoles vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons Prediction

Best case

Florida State enters this game off a really strong first month that reinvigorates the fanbase, and potentially the TV partners, getting a big crowd in Doak for this one. FSU’s ball control and the crowd help keep Hartman, Perry and the Wake Forest offense off their game and potentially off the field as much as possible letting Florida State to grind out a lower scoring contest against Wake. FSU will likely need to score to win this one because Wake’s explosiveness in the return game and Perry’s big play ability allow them to strike at any point, but converting long drives into touchdowns when they have the ball and a few stops could be enough to give FSU a two-possession win.

Worst Case

This one seems pretty clear as a worse case. Wake Forest arrives in Tallahassee and simply lights up the scoreboard every time they touch it. Perry is one of the top receivers in the sport. If the Noles secondary can’t find a way to slow him down and get pressure on Hartman, FSU could fall behind in a hurry and that is not a winning position for this team. That is a recipe for a route and one that is probably closer to a realistic possibility than many fans would think on Wake Forest’s name brand alone.

Realistic

Wake didn’t run away from FSU last season and I expect a solid first month from this team. Even if it isn’t a 4-0 start, I expect better energy around the program than there was after last year’s JSU debacle. A strong crowd in Doak is enough to rattle the Deacs and help FSU establish their game early and keep it in their style of play. I’m expecting a one-possession game in that scenario and while I trust Hartman and the Wake experience more than FSU at this point, a healthy crowd could be enough to push the Noles over that hump.