Preview 2017: Wake Forest Proving There’s Nothing Ugly About Winning
Wake Forest might not be scintillating or thrilling, but winning seasons and bowl games are always beautiful.
There’s nothing ugly about a winning season. There’s nothing ugly about a bowl win. There’s nothing ugly for success at a program that hasn’t known a lot of it.
At least its not ugly for the team’s fans.
It took a few years, but head coach Dave Clawson showed what he could do with time to work. After two 3-9 seasons, Clawson and his staff have put together a deep team with options, talent, and now the knowledge that it can come up with a winning season and a bowl victory.
It wasn’t pretty, but for a program that doesn’t know consistent success – with the 2006 ACC Championship campaign the spark for school’s one good three-year run – take the 7-6 record and bowl win over Temple, and don’t worry how the sausage was made.
However, there’s a really, really fine line for the Demon Deacons between success and dismal failure. Good teams win close games, but there’s no margin for error – at least there wasn’t last season – with four of the wins coming by eight points or fewer thanks to a defense that carried the woeful O, an outstanding kicking game that always seemed to come though when needed, and the coaching staff that knows how to handle its personnel.
The offense was 126th in the nation, it stalled way too often, and the games were hardly anything aesthetically pleasing, but it won. With 16 starters back – led by a few legitimate ACC all-stars – there’s hope to do it all again.
One again, there won’t be anything high-flying or dynamic about the Demon Deacons. There will attempts to push the ball down the field, the running game has players who can provide a burst, and the defense will generate several big plays behind the line and force turnovers, but the formula has to work and there can’t be any variation.
Control the clock. Slow the game down. Convert third down chances, get great play out of the kickers, generate enough defensive stops to get off the field, don’t commit penalties, and do just about all the little things right. It might not work against the high-octane teams that can get up early, but if it works six times or more Clawson will have the Demon Deacons in another bowl game.
And that’s where the expectations stall.
It stinks to be in the same division as Florida State, Louisville and Clemson, and going to Appalachian State won’t be easy, going to Notre Dame won’t be fun, and it’s possible the team can be better and still finish with four wins – the talent just isn’t there compared to most of the rest of the ACC.
But if the formula works and Wake Forest can drag teams down into the muck, this can work. Wake Forest can be successful enough to screw up seasons and get back to a winning season and a bowl.
Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, but if the Demon Deacons can repeat the success, they’ll look absolutely gorgeous.