WINSTON-SALEM, N.C — On just the second day of fall camp, Wake Forest football held media day — a chance for all local media to interview players and coaches on a team desperately seeking to improve on back-to-back 3-9 seasons.
With a returning cast of more than 16 starters, including roughly 90 percent of their offensive production, the Deacs have reason for optimism.
In part one of our interview with Wake coach Dave Clawson, he dissects exactly how the quarterbacks will be evaluated, as the Deacs search for a starter against Tulane on Sept. 1.
On what tools he uses to evaluate the quarterbacks during the camp
Clawson: "I think it's the whole body of work. You're grading every play. You're grading completion percentage. Who's making more plays? How many times are they turning the ball over? I think with all those decisions, you eventually have to go with the gut, but you also want to make sure what your guts says is backed up by what's really happened. We're charting everything with both of them, and it's been that way since the spring. We do it with every quarterback. We're letting it play out. I'd love to think we're going to need just one, but I have a hard time believing that scenario."
On switching out who gets reps with the 1s and the 2s
Clawson: "Yeah, but I also think if you look at our receivers and our running backs — who's a 2 and who's a 1? Is it really that big of a difference whether you're throwing to Cortez Lewis or Scotty Washington? Is it that much of a difference whether you're throwing to Tabari Hines or Chucky Wade? I think for the first time, Devin Pike is playing well, so we feel like everybody in those first two groups are playable football players. So who they throw to, and who's the running back is a lot less different than it was in the past."
On if the quarterbacks get a grade after every practice
Clawson: "We practiced this morning. We'll have meetings in a couple hours and we'll watch the entire scrimmage with them. When you go through it, there's a plus/minus, just like I do with the tight ends. It's what every position does. Everything is a challenge. We're trying to figure out our staters — who is our starting tailback? Who is our starting outside receiver? Then there's positions like tight end where Cam (Serigne) is our starter. The goal is to get him to an All-ACC level, but at the same time we've got to get Devin Pike to a place where he can play 30-40 snaps a game, so that Cam Serigne by week 10 or 11 isn't so tired and beat up and no longer effective. I don't know if Cam practiced last year the last two or three weeks. Every position has different challenges. I feel like I know what our starting offensive line is. I know the five guys, that if they stay healthy, they are going to start. But we're trying to get A'Lique Terry to the point that we can rotate him in there. We'd like to get Jake Benzinger, Nate Gilliam, Patrick Osterhage in there playing, so that you're not playing guys 85 snaps because nobody else is playing. Now whether it happens or not, that's what we're going to find out in the next three week."
On if there's any urgency to settle the quarterback position early
Clawson: "You'd like to, but like I said — I think a lot of times with quarterbacks you'd like to do that because a slot wants to get into a rhythm (with the QB), but we're going to be playing two slots. We're going to be playing multiple guys, so to me it's less critical. To me, it's more important that the receivers are getting good balls, and right now they are. It's more important that the running backs are getting good looks, and they are. Let's say we were really thin at receiver. That we had three receivers and that was it. Those were the only three guys were going to play, we'd probably be making that decision to get the timing down. We felt that was more of a critical decision two years ago, when the only receivers in the program were Matt James, E.J. Scott and Crump. That year, none of the second receivers were really playable. We better figure out the quarterback, because if it's going to be John Wolford he needs to get all the work with these receivers. I think we'll mix people this year. One of the things I really like this year is when our second offense and our second defense are getting plays, those are guys that will be playing in games, and that hasn't been the case in the past. A lot of times those were wasted reps. How many times in the last two years, have we taken a guy we knew we were going to redshirt and give him second-team reps, because we knew that was a better investment that someone that could not play, but also were never going to play."