2019 Wake Forest Football Season Preview
Despite an inconsistent season, Wake Forest managed to have a winning record and their third consecutive season not just with a bowl appearance, but a bowl victory.
2018 Record: 7-6 overall, 3-5 in ACC
Head Coach: Dave Clawson, 6th year, 28-35
The offense has a lot of talent returning, but will need their line to step up and protect their quarterbacks–yes, that is plural because the Deacons can roll two guys out there rather effectively.
Jamie Newman and Sam Hartman will be in a battle all camp long and while there is no true winner at the moment, it’s possible both play a good deal this season. Hartman was the original starter last season as a true freshman, and played well, tossing 16 TDs to 8 INTs while completing 55 percent of his passes–but he was hurt in November due to a leg injury and lost for the season. Newman stepped in and led the way to three wins in the final four games. He can run, but he’s got the size and the downfield passing skills to build around.
I would expect Hartman to win the job–but it’s up for grabs.
Senior running back Cade Carney has returned and looking for another 1,000-yard season. Behind him there are newer faces including a load of freshman recruits and sophomore Christian Beal-Smith.
The o-line will be replacing three starters on a unit that really wasn’t that great last year. The quarterbacks were running for their lives on a consistent basis and there is no set starting lineup before fall camp–not a good sign.
The wide receiver group needs to replace Greg Dortch who took his talents to the pros and is now a New York Jet. Sage Surratt is a sophomore with deep ball ability, 6’5 senior Scotty Washington is a reliable veteran coming off a shoulder problem, and former quarterback Kendall Hinton should be a full-time receiver this year after playing double-duty a season ago.
Plain and simple, the defense was bad last year–they allowed 33 points and 459 yards per game, but there is a bright side. They are returning a lot of players–seven of the top 12 tacklers from 2018.
Carlos Basham is the only returning starter up front and will be the leader of the unit, but Dave Clawson has done a solid job recruiting–specifically bringing in Shamar McCollom, who could be the next great pass rusher for Wake.
Justin Strnad was the leading tackler last year with 105-stops and he is back. Jeff Burley missed the 2018 season due to injury and he is finally healthy and ready to contribute. The linebacking core doesn’t have a lot of name recognition outside of Strnad, but it will need to step up, specifically against the run if the team is going to go bowling again.
Senior corners Essang Bassey and Amari Henderson have shut-down capabilities and will lead the secondary, because behind them is rough. Wake Forest lost all three starting safeties from a season ago and to make matters worse, projected starter Peyton Woulard was lost to injury during spring ball.
It could be another long season defensively for this team.
The offense was clicking at times last season and that can certainly be the case again in 2019, they were 7-2 when recording 400 yards or more–but the defense will need to step up and play better. With an overall lack of depth, staying healthy will be key.
The non-conference slate is not daunting with games against Elon, Rice and a more difficult squad in Utah State–but with road games at Boston College, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Syracuse, there are plenty of problems. Luckily the Deamon Deacons get North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, NC State and Duke at home, coming up with three wins in that group will be enough to go bowling.