Kevin Wilson and his Indiana football team will be looking for a 3-0 start to the 2016 season when they host Wake Forest tomorrow at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EDT and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Peegs.com caught up with Les Johns from Demon Deacon Digest to get the latest on a Wake Forest teams team that comes in with a 3-0 record.
1) Wake Forest QB Kendall Hinton injured his knee against Delaware and will miss a few weeks which puts him out for the game this week against IU. How big of a loss is this for the Demon Deacons on offense? How much does the offense change with John Wolford under center? Who are the other names to know on the offensive side of the ball for Wake Forest?
It’s hard to describe it as anything other than a huge loss for the Deacs. Hinton had clearly won the starting job with his in-game performance against Duke, in leading Wake to its first win over the Blue Devils in five years.
That being said, John Wolford has started 24 games for the Deacs, and was neck-and-neck in competition with Hinton during camp. In fact, Wolford ‘won’ the starting position to begin the season, with the caveat that both quarterbacks would play.
The offensive scheme doesn’t change one bit for Wake with either quarterback, though they may emphasis different things based upon who’s under center. The running game had really taken off with Hinton at the helm, but expect the Deacs to pass a bit more with Wolford. That being said, Hinton had a surprising 46 passing attempts against IU last season, but there’s no reason to believe Wake would be that pass-happy Saturday.
Running back Matt Colburn stepped in for injured freshman Cade Carney, and rushed for more than 100 yards last week against Delaware. Look for him to share carries with both Tyler Bell and Rocky Reid Saturday.
I’d also be surprised if the Deacs don’t try to get tight end Cam Serigne a bit more involved offensively, as the All-ACC honoree has just five catches this season.
2) The Wake Forest offense has not put up a ton of yards or points through three games. What have been the issues for that unit? What is the best way to slow them down?
The outlier here is the Tulane game. Wake put up 389 yards and 24 points against in-state conference rival Duke, and then 481 yards and 38 points at home last week against Delaware.
Tulane, however, completely shut down the Deacs, holding them to seven points on a meager 175 yards. The Green Wave loaded the box with a strong and experienced front seven, completely stifling the Wake running attack. Meanwhile, Wake quarterbacks were 0-6 in the vertical passing game in an attempt to stretch the field and force the Green Wave to play them more honestly. Inability to win one-on-one matchups down the field by Wake receivers allowed Tulane to continue to load the box and the Deacs just never got going. Also, Tulane’s triple option offense led to long possessions — Wake had just 55 offensive snaps.
3) On the other hand, the Wake Forest defense has been outstanding through the first three games. What makes them such an effective unit? Who are the names to know on that side of the ball?
The top name to know is redshirt junior defensive end Duke Ejiofor, who 4.5 sacks and 6.5 TFLs already this season. Ejiofor combines good size, speed and agility with incredible instincts. He missed the first five games last season, which means the Hoosiers didn’t have to fend him off. He’s a difference maker and a disruptor.
Linebacker Marquel Lee is the leader of the defense and safety Jessie Bates is a ball hawk who will fly all over the field.
Many times this season, the Deacs have seemed to bend without breaking, and that may play into Indiana’s hand as they work their offense with tempo. At least partially because of injuries, the Wake defensive unit has played a ton of folks so far, and substitute frequently. It’ll be interesting to see how IU’s pace disrupts what Wake likes to do there.
4) On the few occasions when teams have had success against them what has been the formula? What is the best way to attack the Demon Deacons on defense?
The Deacs bend but don’t break approach has at times allowed opposing offenses to pile up a bunch of yards on long drives. Duke’s Daniel Jones threw for 332 yards, much of them late as the Deacs nursed a 10-point lead. The Wake secondary refused to let the Blue Devil receivers get behind them, but did allow a bunch of short completions before Brad Watson ended the Duke 4th-quarter scoring threat with an interception.
The top two ways for the Hoosiers to be successful against Wake involve getting ahead of the chains on first down and attacking with pace — something the Deacs haven’t seen much of this season so far. If 1st-and-10 becomes 2nd-and-9 then 3rd-and-7, the Hoosiers could have a tough day.
5) Special teams are always a big part of any game. What do you expect to see from that unit for the Demon Deacons? Who are the names to know there?
True freshman punter Dom Maggio is a true weapon for the Deacs, pinning six of his 15 punts this season within the 20-yard line. His long on the season is 59 yard, and he has an average of 43.8 yards per punt.
Of course, Wake Forest is infamously known for its prolific punters, with just graduated Alex Kinal owning the NCAA record for most career punts.
The Wake staff believe they will eventually get explosive plays from kick returner Steven Claude, and punt returners Tabari Hines and Jessie Bates, but that’s yet to materialize.