To wet our whistle for college football we chatted with Riley Johnston the managing editor of Blogger So Dear, SBNation’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons community. Make sure to follow Riley and BSD on Twitter, and check out their website for all things Wake.
BCI: John Wolford who kicked BC’s teeth in last year is gone, and Kendall Hinton is suspended for this year’s game. Who do you expect to be the signal caller, and what does he bring to the table?
Riley: That’s a great question. Wake fans were excited about Kendall Hinton stepping in and taking over after showing a lot of promise the past couple of years. The suspension puts him out for what were two early games that he could’ve gotten his legs under him, and of course, Boston College as well. My guess is that Jamie Newman will be the starter for the season opener against Tulane. He played very well in the spring and there were some rumors that he was pushing Hinton a bit for the starting spot as well. Newman has ridiculous size for a QB and would be a type of big guy that we haven’t had here in a while. There is also Sam Hartman, a true freshman who enrolled early to get a season of Spring ball under him. He’s a pro-style quarterback and a bit different from the other guys we have had, but he possesses a ton of raw talent.
BCI: 8-5 last year for the Demon Deacons in 2017 and a big jump for the program including big wins over Louisville, a ranked NC State team, and putting up 55 points against Texas A&M. How are fans feeling about the program, and what are expectations like for this season?
Riley: Overall this is probably as high as fans have been on Wake football in at least 10 years. The Deacs lose John Wolford and Cam Serigne on offense, but return everybody else, including an absurd amount of starts on the offensive line. That OL should be one of the best in the ACC and will hopefully provide Newman some time to get used to running the offense at FBS speed. My expectations may be a little more out there than most, but I think this season has three goals:
Win 8 regular season games
Get a to a Florida bowl (this could ultimately not be in Wake’s control depending on how many ACC teams make a bowl)
Beat a marquee team (FSU, Clemson, Notre Dame)
It’s nice to have the expectation of more than “make a bowl”, and these are the incremental steps that you want to take when building a program.
BCI: Alright being down there on Tobacco Road, what fan base and school do you hate the most and why?
Riley: Personally I hate UNC more than any other school/fan base, but that answer would definitely change depending on who you asked. A lot of folks who aren’t from here hate Duke more than UNC Tar Heels, and some dislike State more than those two (I have family that attended State so I am ambivalent towards them). Growing up in NC I had to deal with just an absurd amount of bandwagon BS from fake UNC fans who never have, never will, and never could step foot on that campus. That drives my hatred towards them and pushes it over Duke Blue Devils.
BCI: BC and Wake are two schools on the outside looking in terms of the ACC Title picture. Given the current state of the state of the ACC do you see Dave Clawson ever bringing Wake to that level?
Riley: That a tough question. Obviously Wake won an ACC title in 2006, but the league was nowhere near where it is today. I would posit that the ACC Atlantic is the toughest division in college football. Everybody except Syracuse has an O/U of at least 6 games, and when you have Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, N.C. State Wolfpack, and Louisville Cardinals to play every single year it makes it hard to break into that upper echelon (and of course Clemson/FSU are above State/Louisville). That being said, what Dave Clawson is doing at Wake is simply amazing. He has landed two 4-star wide receivers in the past week (there have been maybe two 4-star recruits to step foot on Wake’s campus since recruiting sites really got going). He has energized the fan base and raised the expectations of even the most callous fans. I wouldn’t bet that he wins an ACC title at Wake, but I sure as hell wouldn’t bet against him either.
BCI: Who is one Wake player that mainstream people might not be aware of, but will be on their radar by the end of the season?
Riley: One guy who has really gone under the radar is running back Matt Colburn. You may be familiar with him because he was committed to Louisville and the admirable Bobby Petrino pulled his scholarship the night before NSD. He wound up picking Wake over Georgia Southern in an abbreviated recruitment following that episode, and the rest is history. Since he fumbled the football up at The Heights in the infamous 3-0 win over your Eagles two years ago he has been absolutely dominant. I think he will have a breakout year behind a monster offensive line and will be another cog in the machine that helps Newman get situated at QB.
BCI: Hollywood producers are going to make a movie on Wake Forest football, who would play Dave Clawson and who would play Demon Deacon?
Riley: Oh man this is a good one. I think Clint Eastwood would be a reasonable choice for the Demon Deacon because of the sneer that he has that looks somewhat like the mascot. As for Dave Clawson, I don’t have a good actor off the top of my head, but maybe a younger Dennis Quaid comes to mind? I’ll welcome the peanut gallery on this one to help out!
BCI: It’s an away game for BC this year, what are some must see spots/restaurants/breweries that our fans should hit if they travel to Wake?
Riley: Downtown Winston-Salem has seen a bit of a revitalization the past few years as it has benefited from young professionals staying after graduation. This has led to some more breweries and hot spots for the younger crowd. Fiddlin Fish and Wise Man Brewing are two great spots downtown, and obviously you should try Foothills, which has been expanding over the Eastern Seaboard for quite some time. If you get a chance to go visit Old Salem and Bethabara (if you’re into historical stuff) then definitely do that. I would also recommend going to Wake’s current campus (the one in Winston, not Wake Forest, NC!!!), and walking around because it’s hard to grasp how small it is until you cross it in 10 minutes.
BCI: What is the craziest or most unique Wake Forest tradition (football or non-football)?
Riley: Well we “Roll The Quad” which is probably pretty weird to most outsiders. Think of what they do/used to do at Toomer’s Corner down in Auburn (before Harvey poisoned the trees) with throwing toilet paper. That’s basically what Wake students and fans do after every big win. Here’s a link of the picture after Wake won the ACC Championship in 2006. That’s not photoshopped or snow, it’s toilet paper. Crazy stuff and really pretty if done correctly/in the right lighting!
BCI: It’s summertime. What is your beer and song choice for this summer?
Riley: I’m an IPA and Pop Country Music guy, so I would recommend the Seeing Double IPA from Foothills, and hard to go wrong with Morgan Wallen’s “Up Down” (feat FGL) if you are getting out on a boat on beaching it for a vacation.
BCI: Final question: Pick a GIF that best describes how you envision Wake’s season going this year
Basically as a Wake fan you just never know what you’re going to get. It usually alternates from game to game, and sometimes play to play. That’s the beauty of sports though, and I’m guessing most fan bases feel like that.