Wake Forest was the surprise champion of the ACC Atlantic last season and hopes to shock the conference and do it again in 2022. Unfortunately for them, a few key obstacles stand in their way. Let’s talk about it.
This Wake offense was deadly last year and is poised to be deadly again, albeit with a big caveat. They finished 11th in all of the nation in total offense last season, 4th in scoring offense, and topped the ACC in multiple offensive categories.
The Demon Deacons run a unique style of offense known as the Slow Mesh. which is an RPO-based system in which the offensive line sets-up for run-blocking on most plays, but the QB can take his “option” to keep the ball and throw it to a receiver. This process often takes more time than a typical offense to develop in the backfield, which is why it is called the Slow Mesh.
You can watch some of Wake Forest on offense here, in the condensed version of their game last season against Clemson. As you can see from the video, this Slow Mesh is only relevant on downs that could be either a run or a pass. The Wake QB can simply drop back into the pocket at any time on a 3rd-and-long or in similar situations. But for pretty much any other down, you see him with an extended RPO handoff to the RB. This can be a problem for teams that struggle to break into the backfield quickly, which was true for Boston College’s relatively weak defensive line last season.
Now, for personnel, they likely will be back with all of their crucial elements. But one giant question mark now is the status of star QB Sam Hartman. He was announced to be out indefinitely to start the season due to an undisclosed medical issue, which is a huge blow to the Wake Forest offense. But coach Dave Clawson also said that Hartman expects to be back playing at some point in the season, so it’s unknown whether or not that will be in time to play the Eagles. Sophomore QB Mitch Griffis has the starting spot in the meantime.
The OL returns 4/5 starters, the WRs return 3 of their 4 top targets, and 2 of their 3 top RBs are back in the mix too. This is a versatile, dangerous roster with a lot of returning production.
The Wake defense, on the other hand, left much to be desired. Allowing 400+ yards per game and 29 PPG, and the 5th most first downs in the nation, led to a struggling unit and a lot of shootouts. On top of all of that, they lose their leading tackler LB and best playmakers in the defensive backfield. It could be another tough time on this side of the ball.
The main thing the Wake defense excelled at last season was forcing turnovers, leading the conference by a wide margin. But turnovers are a very volatile stat and they often saved the bad Wake defense from being a downright terrible one. So this year, Wake has a real chance to fall back to Earth in that area of the game.
It’s hard enough to predict the outcome of a game this far in advance and even harder when we don’t know the status of Wake Forest’s starting QB. Nonetheless, I’m sticking with what was lethal in last year’s match-up. I don’t expect Boston College to perform nearly as pitifully as they did in 2021’s season ender, but I do expect the same final result. I’ll take Wake Forest.
Final: Wake Forest 35, Boston College 31