Wake Forest

Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview 2016


Wake Forest football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Demon Deacons, best players and season prediction.


2016 Wake Forest Preview: Top 10 Demon Deacon Players
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What You Need to Know About the Wake Forest Offense

The offense can only get better, because, well, it can’t get much worse. In an era of high-octane attacks, Wake Forest and Kansas are the only FBS programs to average fewer than 20 points in each of the past four years.

But this is Year 3 for the staff, which has meticulously groomed its young kids, in practice and in the film room, so some measure of progress is expected. For starters, there’s emerging talent at the skill positions, namely TE Cam Serigne, receivers Cortez Lewis and Tabari Hines and backs Tyler Bell and Rocky Reid. And four starters return from a front wall that was overmatched throughout 2015.

Now, the youngsters must mature and the staff needs to choose a quarterback. Dave Clawson has yet to tip his hand, though a healthy John Wolford probably retains his job, relegating dual-threat Kendall Hinton to a role as a change-of-pace. Wake Forest won’t win with offense this season, but there’s cautious optimism that the unit will be less of a liability in the fall.


Wake Forest football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Demon Deacons, best players and season prediction.


Biggest Key To The Wake Forest Offense
Wither Kendall Hinton? Dave Clawson has yet to anoint a starting quarterback, and the coach does not want to use two players. But might there be a way to get both options on the field this fall to exploit their diverse skill sets? John Wolford is the cleaner passer and a two-year starter in the system. When he went down last fall, though, Hinton brought a much-needed spark to the running game. While the backfield is developing depth with second-year risers Tyler Bell and Rocky Reid, Hinton could serve as an asset in sub-packages.

Biggest Key To The Wake Forest Defense
Duke bedevils. For good reason, Demon Deacon fans are eager to see what junior DE Duke Ejiofor can do for an encore this season. Once he received clearance to play last October, he was a tour de force as a pass rusher, amassing All-ACC numbers had they been prorated over an entire season. Wake Forest has legitimate all-league talent at each level of the D, with Ejiofor hoping to build off a torrid 2015 finish and set the tone for the unit off the edge.

What You Need to Know About the Wake Forest Defense

You can win football games with this Demon Deacon defense. Mike Elko is at it again, maximizing the defensive talent he inherited. Elko is one of the sneaky-good coordinators in the country, crafting an underrated D in Winston-Salem that flourished with minimal offensive support in 2015.

There’s an All-ACC contender at each level, DE Duke Ejiofor, LB Marquel Lee and DBs Ryan Janvion and Brad Watson. All four could be working out for NFL scouts next spring. Lee and Janvion are the proven veterans, while Ejiofor and Watson are wild cards with very high ceilings.

While the foundation is set, Elko needs to make sure that his kids are a little more buttoned up and aggressive this fall. The Deacons remain vulnerable against north-south running teams, and momentum changing plays in the form of sacks and turnovers were far too infrequent a year ago. To take the next step, it’s incumbent upon this group to become more opportunistic in 2016.

Wake Forest Will Be Far Better If …

the offensive line is not just a year older, but also a year better as well. Wake’s blockers were young in 2015, including three freshmen starters, Ryan Anderson, Phil Haynes and Justin Herron. And it showed in the results, such as three yards per carry and 40 sacks allowed. However, now that everyone except RG Dylan Intemann is back from last year’s two-deep, there’s real hope that the Deacons will be a more effective offense at the line of scrimmage.

Best Offensive Player

Junior TE Cam Serigne. Yeah, unless Tony Gonzales is the subject it’s not a great sign for an offense when the tight end is the top performer, especially in this era. But there’s been an opening in recent years within the punchless Wake Forest offense, and Serigne has filled it. He’s a reliable, sure-handed target for the quarterbacks, with a nose for the goal line and the athleticism to pick up additional yards after the grab.

Best Defensive Player

Senior LB Marquel Lee. Wake Forest is going to be a quality defensive team in 2016. And Lee will be setting the tone from middle linebacker. The sturdy, hard-hitting senior is not only the Deacons’ premier defender, but he also plays a position of need. While the team lost few starters, it was hardest hit by the graduations of linebackers Brandon Chubb and Hunter Williams. Even more will be expected from Lee, who can use his finale as an audition for pro scouts.

Key Player To a Successful Season

Junior QB John Wolford. Of course offense is the problem in Winston-Salem. The Deacons last averaged 20 points per game in 2011. And while just about everyone is back, and the skill position talent is improving, Wake needs someone to take charge of the quarterback derby and bring more stability to the position. It needs Wolford, a two-year starter, to remain healthy from wire-to-wire and instill some pop into the passing game. The junior doesn’t have to be Riley Skinner, but he does have to eclipse last year’s iffy production.

The Season Will Be a Success If …

Wake Forest qualifies for its first bonus game since 2011. True, the Deacons will have to double the win total of the last two seasons, no small ask. But the program spent 2014 and 2015 building from top to bottom under Clawson, in the hopes of turning the corner in Year 3. Plus, aside from the annual battles with Florida State and Clemson, the schedule is not unruly. Out of conference, the Deacs will face Tulane, Delaware, Indiana and Army. If they can lock down three of those matchups, a .500 regular season becomes a reachable goal.

Key Game

Sept. 10 at Duke. The Demon Deacons should open 2016 with a win over visiting Tulane, but the first true test of the year will come a week later in Durham. Duke has won four in a row in the instate series, so every member of the Wake Forest roster will be looking for their first win in this rivalry. This is the type of game, if won, that could fuel confidence and propel a young team still looking for a launching point.

2015 Fun Stats

– Points per game: Wake Forest 17.4 – Opponents 24.6
– Rushing yards per game: Wake Forest 105.2 – Opponents 161.2
– Sacks: Wake Forest 20 – Opponents 40