The Syracuse Orange beat Rhode Island last week... by a lot! They also lost Terrel Hunt, unfortunately. But the season goes on, and now our focus switches over to SU's ACC opener against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Below, Griffin Kurzius (who you should follow on Twitter) from SB Nation's excellent Blogger So Dear stops by to share everything we need to know about the Demon Deacons. We answer some questions over there too, so be sure to check those out to hear our side of the story.
Preseason expectations were pretty low for both the Orange and Deacons. Do you think the prognosticators were wrong on one team, both teams or neither team for 2015?
Both teams looked good against some inferior opponents in Week 1. However, both are still full of question marks. Both finished 3-9 last season with merely one conference win a piece. These two teams are fighting out of the cellar until they prove otherwise.
Things seemed to go pretty well for Wake Forest vs. Elon, but... it's Elon. Anything you can glean from the win that could apply to this Saturday's contest with Syracuse?
Yes… it was Elon, a 1-11 D-1AA team! But, hey a 41-3 win means something, right? But in all seriousness, we FINALLY saw some playmakers! Last season, we only had one touchdown of over 25 yards. Against Elon, we had three. Freshmen wide receivers Cortez Lewis, Tabari Hines and Chuck Wade all have foot speed and the ability to create separation. Sophomore tight end Cam Serigne looks even stronger after being our only bright spot on offense last season.
John Wolford had a difficult first season, getting hit a ton. Now the O-line in front of him is even less experienced. Is that seen as problematic by the Wake faithful?
Well, frankly, the offensive line couldn’t be any worse than it was last season. The fact that John Wolford is still standing under center after last season exemplifies his poise. While the line is young, most of the linemen have a full year in Dave Clawson’s program and have the size and strength to hold their own. There is no doubt that the line is a serious liability, but at least it’s improving.
Obviously it's been several years since the Deacs had a real running game? What's prevented it, and what are you expecting this season?
Feeding off the last question, the offensive line has been a complete dumpster fire in recent years. The final two years under Jim Grobe, Wake underperformed. The Deacs had the playmakers on offense but the line gave these players (like Steelers running back Josh Harris) less space than the campus cafeteria at lunch time. Last season, Clawson came in and completely tore down the decaying program. He’s slowly building a foundation with a strong offensive line (and a new training program which has produced immense results in one year) and playmakers behind the quarterback. For this year, we have three youngsters getting significant touches from the backfield: sophomore Isaiah Robinson, freshman Matt Colburn and freshman Tyler Bell. Robinson is the powerful, between-the-tackles runner. In the first game, Colburn displayed quick speed from the backfield and often runs sideline-to-sideline. Meanwhile, Bell saw most of his work as a pass-catcher. Fans are very optimistic about these youthful runners.
How's the secondary going to perform against Syracuse -- and all year -- without Bud Noel and Kevin Johnson?
Wake understands that nobody can come in and replace two shutdown ACC corners, and two players on NFL rosters right now. Junior Brad Watson is very competent in coverage. However, he will be aided in coverage by junior, and three-year starter, Ryan Janvion. Also, Wake’s outside linebackers Brandon Chubb and Hunter Williams are the strength of this defense and have the speed and wits to help in coverage.
What's the key to Wake Forest beating the Orange up at the Carrier Dome this Saturday?
This will probably be the key for the Demon Deacons every game this season… give John Wolford time to make decisions and get the ball in the hands of Wake’s playmakers! With time, Wolford has proven that he can read defenses quickly and get the ball in the open field. Now, the offensive line needs to give him this opportunity against ACC quality athletes.
Prediction time: What happens in this one? Which team gets to start 2-0?
Two months ago, I predicted 19-17 Wake Forest. Especially against a true freshman quarterback, I’m going to stick with this prediction. All summer, Wake’s defense has been ahead of its offense. I believe this will be the case with a youthful Syracuse offense. On the other side of the ball, a sound, Shafer-coached defense will remain disciplined and get pressure against Wolford and crew. Wake’s great kicker Mike Weaver (Elmira, New York native!) will make the difference.