The Deacs achieved just 10 first downs last Thursday, while amassing a meager 175 yards of offense in a 7-3 victory over the Tulane Green Wave.
Here’s four reasons why the Deacs will be better Saturday at Duke.
It’d be hard to be worse
The performance against Tulane is the third-worst production since Clawson’s second year began, ‘bested’ by 142 and 152 yard outputs against Boston College and Clemson respectively.
The Deacs have only had one worse game in the last 18 in terms of 1st downs, with just five in the 3-0 win over Boston College last season.
Aside from potentially facing an elite defensive team later this season, this is the bottom. It only gets better from here.
The Deacs gained 315 yards in 2014 and 450 yards in 2015 against Duke. There’s little reason to believe they would struggle the same way the did last Thursday against Tulane.
Wake starting quarterback John Wolford has had a reasonable amount of success in his first two seasons under center against Duke, going a combined 47-for-71 (66.2 percent completion percentage) passing for 589 yards. He’s thrown five touchdown passes and two interceptions combined in those two contests.
Wake coach Dave Clawson has stated Kendall Hinton will play at quarterback, but whoever gets the hot hand will likely stay in while they’re rolling.
The Duke front seven
The Duke secondary is experienced, starting three seniors and a junior. The front seven, however, has a wealth of youth and inexperience. That’s something of which the Deacs will likely take advantage.
The front seven the Deacs faced last week in Tulane had 296 tackles the previous year. This Duke front seven accounted for just 140 stops in 2015.
They start redshirt freshman Joe Giles-Harris at linebacker, and have redshirt junior Dominic McDonald and sophomore Marquies Price starting at defensive ends. The two ends have combined for just three starts and 14 tackles in their careers.
Tyler Bell and the Wake running backs
Sophomore running back Bell had his best outing of his freshman season in the finale against Duke last year, running for 94 yards on 16 carries, and getting to the end zone for the first time in his career.
Coincidentally, who’s back taking some first team reps this week? Tyler Bell. Clawson indicates Cade Carney still gets the start at tailback, but expect the coaching staff to rotate both of those guys along with Rocky Reid and Matt Colburn to stay fresh and wear down the young Duke defensive front.