Syracuse and Wake Forest square off in a battle of teams looking to have bounceback seasons. This game could be a crossroads for both. As the Orange prepare to try to replicate last season's 30-7 victory, here is a detailed look at the Demon Deacons.
Scouting the Offense
The Wake Forest offense is a spread, zone-read scheme. Their ground attack is predicated on forcing the defenders to make quick decisions on who to attack, either the running back or the quarterback. They also run counters to keep opposing defenses honest. The passing game is primarily a three-step drop and quick attack with slants, screens and crossing routes. They use double moves and playaction to take shots down the field as well.
QB John Wolford: Wolford struggled as a true freshman in 2014, but had a huge performance in week one this year. As he plays efficient football and does not turn it over, the better the Wake offense performs. Not only that, but Wolford is underrated as a runner. He can extend plays and scramble for yards if openings are given. Syracuse pressured him early and often last season, so the key is how he handles that in this matchup.
TE Cam Serigne: The top receiving threat for the Demon Deacons with Jared Crump out for the year due to injury, Serigne is a big, physical tight end with excellent hands. He is a natural at getting open, especially over the middle in the intermediate passing game. Syracuse has to keep an eye on him at all times.
LT Justin Herron: Syracuse loves to blitz, and did so very effectively in last year's meeting. If Wake is going to quell that to some extent, it starts with the offensive line. Specifically the tackles in order to stop blitzing linebackers. Herron protects Wolford's blind side, and will be counted on to thwart the Orange attacking style.
The offensive line was a source of major struggle in 2014, and while they put up big offensive numbers in the opener, it remains a question mark. There were times when Elon controlled the line of scrimmage. Save a 70 yard scramble by Wolford, they only averaged 3.2 yards per carry. They will have to perform much more consistently against a significantly more talented Syracuse defensive line if they hope to have another strong offensive performance.
Wake Forest has an emerging quarterback with some solid running backs and a star at tight end. However, a weak offensive line and the lack of a big time playmaker at receiver without Crump, the Demon Deacon offense has a lot to prove. Even after a 41-point outing in week one.
Scouting the Defense
Wake runs a 4-2-5 scheme with the third safety acting as a linebacker hybrid. The front four features athletic linemen that can penetrate as well as take up blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays. The secondary mixes up coverages but plays a lot of man. They often stunt their linemen and utilize one of their linebackers as an extra pass rusher.
LB Brandon Chubb: Chubb is a downhill, physical linebacker who is a tackling machine. He is the best player on a solid defense and helps stop opposing teams rushing attacks. A key to a successful day on the ground for Syracuse is neutralizing Chubb. He is their top playmaker as well and has a nose for the football.
NT Zeek Rodney: Rodney is a former Syracuse recruiting target. He is athletic, has excellent footwork and is quick out of his stance. He will really test the interior of the Orange offensive line. He jumped a junior and senior on the depth chart to earn a starting gig.
LB/S Hunter Williams: Williams plays the hybrid role in the Wake defense. The redshirt senior is counted on to play in the box, in coverage, blitzing the quarterback and playing downhill against the run.
The Wake secondary last season as talented and productive. They lost three of their starts from that team and still have a lot of question marks. Brad Watson and Devin Gaulden are not as talented as Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel from last season. This is an area Syracuse may look to exploit.
The Wake defense has a lot to live up to from the 2014 squad. The front seven appears to have more depth while the secondary is largely unproven. They will have their hands full as Syracuse has skill position players that will test this unit.
Scouting the Special Teams
P Alex Kinal: One of the top punters in the conference, Kinal helps Wake win the field position battle. He has a strong and accurate leg.
PR Tabari Hines: Hines has quickness and elusiveness. He had a strong season opener, averaging over 10-yards per punt return. He will test the Syracuse punt coverage units.
K Mike Weaver: Weaver is a solid kicker with an above average leg, but can struggle with his accuracy from 40-yards and beyond.