Last game of the regular season and a whole lot is on the line. Wake Forest is looking to clinch the Atlantic, while BC is ready to play spoiler and send their seniors out right. We spoke with Cameron Lemons Debro over at Blogger So Dear to give us the scoop on this incredible season for the Demon Deacons. Hear what he sad to say about how if feels to be on the precipice of ACC greatness and which Thanksgiving food Wake Forest football best compares to.
BCI: What a year for Wake. Regardless of what happened against Clemson last weekend, controlling your own destiny to clinch the Atlantic has to be a great feeling. Take us through how everything has come together so beautifully this season?
BSD: A team built with experience and confidence. 2020 was rough for basically everyone and the way it ended for Wake (COVID outbreak and 3 frustrating losses) left a bad taste in just about everyone’s mouths. Coming back this year with a ton of experience they eased their way through their first two opponents. They played complimentary football against FSU and UVA, creating turnovers on defense and getting off the field on 3rd downs, while capitalizing on offense and controlling the pace of the game. Louisville and Syracuse saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, while Army was a masterclass in offense and the worst showing (albeit down 10+ players) on defense. UNC and Clemson ended up being beyond frustrating losses, but NC State mattered the most as Wake played so inconsistently on both ends but still found a way to win. If you asked any fan before the season if they’d be 9-2 and with a win go to the ACC championship game, they’d have taken it in a heartbeat.
BCI: What would the win and title mean for Dave Clawson’s program, especially if it comes in #TheRivalry? Is there any concern Clawson may be courted away?
BSD: It would cement his legacy here and honestly result in a massive extension/pay raise for him and the staff (a reminder that Wake’s OC Warren Ruggiero is up for the Broyles Award for the most impressive assistant coach). He’ll have brought a team back from the dead, and regardless of if the ACC is down or not, someone has to win those games and reaching double digits and an ACC title game for the 2nd time ever would instantly install him as a legend. There have been rumors here and there and a lot of smoke with Virginia Tech last week, but in my opinion it’s nothing more than a smokescreen and someone angling for a (deserved) raise for him and his staff. There are a lot of factors of why he wouldn’t go to a bigger school and unless 1-2 very specific openings come available, he won’t be going away, so I’m good here.
BCI: Alright, how did things go so poorly against Clemson? Were the Deacons always a bit overrated to begin or did Clemson find a fatal flaw?
BSD: Clemson just outplayed them. You can make excuses about missing your starting center, top two running backs and a fair amount on the defensive side of the ball, but the team just didn’t play well. They fought their way back in it at the end of the first half — got an interception and tried to drive to score right before the half and threw a pick. Clemson marched down at the beginning of the 2nd half, Rondell Bothroyd made an NFL-level play for the 3rd week in a row and caused a fumble for the offense once again to hopefully tie the game up, first play fumble and then the gates of hell opened up. There were just too many mistakes, too many turnovers, too many missed tackles. I don’t know if they were overrated, but it just was the worst overall game they’ve played all year. I will say Clemson is criminally underrated and solely being punished for being Clemson. Wake and Pitt are two of the best offenses in the country and Clemson held them both to 27 points. They should’ve been ranked in the AP/Coaches and should’ve been ranked higher in the CFP. It’s complete nonsense. If any other team looks like that with their losses being to two top 20 teams and the #1 team in the country in a 10-3 game, they’d be a top 20 team.
BCI: Two losses in the last three with opponents scoring over 40 points. Can Wake apply the pressure needed to keep BC’s offense at bay? Where are the biggest strengths and weaknesses on defense?
BSD: Million-dollar question right now! They played with way too much emotion against UNC resulting in getting away from their game plan and just dumb personal fouls to keep drives alive. This is a team that can generate a pass rush and force turnovers. They really haven’t had an issue with that part all year. They’ve been nauseatingly bad on the ground however. Part of that has been injuries and other part of that is just guys doing too much. They’re constantly finding themselves in between checks, they’re always trying to cover for something and it results in them being a step too late and just missing tackles they should be making
BCI: What do we need to know about Sam Hartman and this high flying offense? Who are the top skill position players here?
BSD: I’ve had to eat my words on Sam Hartman. I thought his ceiling was much lower than this, but he’s been making big time throws and being careful with the ball for the most part. Skill position wise they’ve been getting it done all over the place: Jaquarii Roberson is an All-ACC receiver, AT Perry was a Biletnikoff Semifinalist and has shown he can just take games over, Taylor Morin just consistently makes tough catches and is #sneakyathletic and Donald Stewart always seems good for a couple of first downs and is quietly one of the best run blockers on the team. Oh that’s just the receivers. Wake has been operating with a three-headed monster at running back with Christian Beal-Smith, Justice Ellison, and Christian Turner all year with good success. CBS and Ellison were out (will hope to have them on Saturday) and we saw second-year freshman Quinton Cooley show up and keep on chugging.
BCI: Which Thanksgiving food does Wake Forest football best compare to? Feel free to disregard the fact that Thanksgiving food is highly overrated.
BSD: Thanksgiving is overrated (although I do enjoy Collard Greens, Mac and Cheese, and Ham) and Pie is the worst dessert. I’ll go with dinner rolls for Wake. It’s the thing that you never *truly* think about so it always gets left behind in the food rankings, but as the meal goes on you’re like wait this is a solid part of my meal, and you go through this process EVERY YEAR and at a certain point you gotta stop ranking it so low, maybe it’s just a good food!
BCI: Give us a final score prediction here and how this all unfolds.
BSD: Wake 42 BC 27. I just have not been a fan of this BC team. I don’t think they’re all that good on offense and the defense has some good parts but the injuries just soften them up too much to the slot receivers, leaking TEs/RBs and the running game in general. I think it starts out with both teams trying to feel each other out, but especially if BC goes into a three linebacker set again like they had to against FSU, Wake’s offense is substantially better and equipped to blow this game wide open
Big thanks again to Cam for talkin’ turkey with us. A tough outlook for the Eagles, but appreciate it all no less. Sit back and enjoy some sport the rest of the week. Read more of Cam and co’s fantastic content over at Blogger So Dear.