Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson on depth chart, fall camp, freshmen playing

Wake Forest practices are gradually beginning to shift from a camp atmosphere, with players jockeying for two-deep depth chart positions, to more of a game-prep mode with the season kickoff against Tulane fast approaching.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — With just a little more than a week before the season kicks off, Wake Forest football practice is starting to shift a little from camp work to more fine-tuning and game prep.

Aside from dealing with a few injuries, most two-deep depth chart decisions have been made, and now the Deacs are just looking to clean up mistakes and deficiencies noticed in the first two scrimmages before digging full bore into the Tulane game plan.

We spoke with Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson after the Deacs concluded their 20th fall camp practice.

On the transition from camp to game week

Clawson: “The process is taking that last scrimmage and evaluating situations that need to get cleaned up. You take a lot of the things that the players aren’t as clear on, or the execution isn’t as clean. What we also do here is some 1s vs. 2s, because there’s certain concepts the defense needs to see that we don’t do a lot of or certain concepts the offense needs to see that the defense doesn’t do a lot of. That’s a way of preparing ourselves for some of the looks we’re going to see during the season. The defense is running our defense, but maybe doing something that’s not a base of what we do, so that the offense can get that look. Maybe it’s a blitz or a look against a certain formation that we haven’t got enough of.”

On true freshman who many start

Clawson: “I’d say Cade (Carney), probably for sure if he’s healthy. Essang (Bassey), we’re still hoping he’ll be No. 3 (cornerback). Dionte Austin looks like he’s progressing well and on his way back. But I think Essang is definitely going to play. I think the two true freshman where it’s all but certain they will be playing. I’d say Cade has an 80-90 percent chance of starting, and Essang is more in the 40 percent range. They’re going to play as a part of the regular rotation regardless.”

On if practice has moved away from pure camp where positions on the depth chart are being determined

Clawson: “Yeah. For the most part we know who’s going to start, and we’ll release a two-deep before the game. The only uncertainty is who’s healthy and who’s not. That’s the only thing that prevents us from saying for sure. We got Josh Banks back today, and he looked good. We know he’s going to start if he’s healthy. We’d still love to have Duke Ejiofor as our starting end, but that’s going to be wait and see. Friday is a big day. We have a light practice tonight. Tomorrow will be an hour-and-a-half deal, then we get the kids out of here for 48 hours and we really hope the training room report shrinks. It always does, for two reasons. You kind of tapered off a big, so kids have a chance to get healthy. Then game week is a great motivator for them to get healthy.”

On getting good work from folks like Chris Calhoun while Ejiofor has been down

Clawson: “Yeah. I think a lot of young guys have had good camps. They don’t have the experience or production level that Duke has had. The second half of last year, Duke was one of our best football players. It’s been frustrating. Last year, he missed the first two months, and this year he’s missed all of camp. You know what he’s capable of when he’s healthy, and we had him healthy for the spring. He’s a factor, so we really hope we can get him back. We need him.

“Chris Calhoun is a really good player. Duke Ejiofor is Chris Calhoun plus two years. Can Chris Calhoun be where Duke Ejiofor is? Yes. He’s not there now, but he’s a true sophomore and Duke’s a fourth-year junior.”

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