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Trio of backs ignite ground game for the Deacs in final fall camp scrimmage

Wake averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the Deacs second and final scrimmage of fall camp Saturday night at BB&T Field.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Deacs established a running game and broke some explosive plays — two of the biggest offensive bugaboos during Dave Clawson’s first two years at the helm.

True freshman running back Cade Carney broke through early, then sophomore Matt Colburn impressed late, finishing the scrimmage Saturday at BB&T Field with a 59-yard touchdown run  

Both John Wolford and Kendall Hinton passed for more than 100 yards, but neither seemed to establish themselves as the clear no. 1 guy — if that was what you were looking for.

We spoke with Wake coach Clawson after the Deacs final scrimmage of fall camp.

On the rushing attack improving

Clawson: “In the last scrimmage, I thought we had some big plays, but didn’t run it consistently. I thought today the offensive line was probably as good as they’ve looked in a scrimmage against our defense. We had some seams and there were more of those 4-6 yard plays. Those are critical because they keep you on schedule. They keep you out of 2nd-and-long. I think that’s going to be a big thing this year — how well can we do that? If we can run the ball, get four or five yards, and stay on schedule, we’ll be a much better offense. We were better today. That’s got to be more consistent.”

On Carney being good early, then Matt Colburn turning it on late

Clawson: “What happened is, there was a period of camp where the only two backs we had were Cade and Rocky (Reid). I really think those guys were getting wore down. Now that Matt is back, they’re splitting the reps, and I think they’re all a little fresher. I think Cade and Rocky looked like they had camp legs. Now that Matt is back, he has fresh legs because he was out a bit. Getting him back, has allowed Cade and Rocky to get a little fresher, because they aren’t getting every single rep in practice anymore.”

With the other running backs that have missed and are still out, does this mean the starter against Tulane comes from this group of three (Reid, Carney or Colburn)?

Clawson: “There’s no question that it’s one of those three. Every indication is that Tyler Bell will be able to practice at the end of next week. We’re going to have him later in the week. We don’t think we’ll have him Monday or Tuesday, but he’ll be able to do individual on Thursday. He’s not been ruled out for Tulane, but how does he look and what is his role? It’s not fair to those other guys that have been taking every rep in camp, but there’s no question that at some point we’re going to need him. Right now, we have three and it would be good to have four. I’d love to get Arkeem Byrd back at some point, and that would be five. Then Isaiah Robinson would be six. Right now Isaiah is on the shelf and it might be another month or two, but who knows by that time of year, he could be no. 2 or 3.”

On Steven Claude’s big day

Clawson: “I’ve said many times, he might be the most improved player in camp. Last year on scout team he would flash, because he’s fast and he’s running plays on cards. In the spring, he was really running within the offense for the first time. He would make a big play now and then. He has been a very consistent player for us in camp. He is going to play football. We have six receivers that are capable of playing and they all will play. It’s just a matter of how much. I think what makes that position so good is that we have good internal competition and we also have enough guys to keep guys fresh.

“I think the wideouts are the most improved position on the team. I think we have some guys that can play in this league and the exciting thing is that four of them are sophomores and two of them are freshmen. They’re only going to get better. Some of those freshmen got so much experience last year that they are experienced freshmen. Tabari (Hines), Chucky (Wade) and Cortez (Lewis) played a lot of football for us last year. All those guys played 400-500 snaps.”

On if any particular defender stood out

Clawson: “Brad Watson is a good player. A lot of the big plays on offense on the perimeter came when Brad was out. I think Brad held up well and made a great play on a slant early. He’s certainly had a good camp. On defense, I thought Jaboree made a good play. We need to get Duke (Ejiofor) back, Cam Glenn back, Josh Banks back. I’ll compliment the offense. They did a much better job being physical and running the football, but when you have Duke and Josh out, they should be. They should have gotten better today. When I watch the scrimmage, I’m behind the offense, so my analysis of the offense is probably a little bit better than defense. I’ll watch the film tonight and three times tomorrow. I’ll have a better idea Monday.”

On Paris Black making some plays

Clawson: “He is, but right now Paris is one of those guys who flashes. Does he do the right assignment every play? That consistency is not where we need it. Between now and Tulane it has to get a lot better. There’s no doubt he can play. He’s physical, can run and is a good football player. But a redshirt freshman who has never played, and he has to be gap-sound. He makes a spectacular play every now and then, but be in the wrong gap that will lead to some big runs.”

On if he’s ready to name a quarterback starter

Clawson: “I’m going to watch the film and. . .”

On what he saw today from Wolford and Hinton

Clawson: “I think they’re both really good players, Les. Like I said all along, it’s a really good problem. I think at some point this year, we’re going to need both of them. I don’t know if we’ll get to a point where we say it’s just one guy, and that’s it. I don’t. We’re going to watch the film, and watch it closely. They’re both really good football players and they’re both playing at a level higher than we’ve had a quarterback play in my time. They’re both higher than we’ve had at quarterback in either 2014 or 2015. But that should be the case, because it’s John’s third year in the system, and it’s Kendall’s second year. They’re both playing at a really good level, and they’re both great kids.”

On Phil Haynes

Clawson: “Phil is supposed to be back Monday. He did individual yesterday. With the return to play protocol, he could have went today, and we just thought it was in his best interest to give him that extra day and right now we expect him to be full go Monday.”

On the running game gaining traction without Haynes and Cam Serigne

Clawson: “With Phil, it will just get more physical. Cam, when healthy, is one of the best tight ends in the ACC. Now he’s 20 pounds heavier, so the run blocking when he’s in there has been greatly improved.”

On if they got accidentally live with the quarterbacks today

Clawson: “With that, it’s always a judgement call, because we’re always trying to figure out where they would have gotten to. Sometimes, the defense will get a little frustrated because I didn’t down them as fast as they thought. They decide on the next play they want to go live on them. Half the time, nobody knows where Kendall (Hinton) is going, including Kendall. He’s just so shifty and so instinctive. He initiates that contact. Those things happen, and we try to protect them, but with the way he plays there’s going to be some of that. It’s not live.”

On how close Cam Serigne is to returning

Clawson: “Cam did individual yesterday. We’re hoping Monday to give him 10-15 snaps and really my goal is that he’s full go by Friday. Cam Glenn is sort of on the same program. We start our Tulane prep on Friday. We hope those guys are full go by then. We just don’t want another setback.”


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