WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Coming off consecutive 3-9 campaigns to begin the Dave Clawson era at Wake Forest, you’d think it would take flawless perfection for the Deacs to be 4-0 so far this season.
That’s far from the case.
Injuries have limited personnel in every contest, and there have been breakdowns in each game that would have been practically catastrophic in seasons past.
The Wake offense was anemic in the opener against Tulane, stumbling their way to a 7-3 victory behind just 175 yards of total offense.
Duke jumped out early at home against the Deacs in what could easily be described as an all-systems failure for the first 20 minutes of football, as the Blue Devils outplayed Wake in every facet of the game — but built just a 7-0 lead in the process.
Against FCS powerhouse Delaware, the Deacs turned the ball over twice in the Blue Hen scoring area, allowing them to capitalize on scoring ‘drives’ of 10 and 19 yards.
Last week at Indiana, the Deacs allowed a 75-yard passing touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage, and gave up over 600 total yards of offense, but managed to come away with another huge road win.
The Deacs are 4-0, but it’s safe to say they haven’t played their best football yet.
“We’ve had moments on both sides of the ball where we’ve played really well. I don’t think we’ve put it all together. With the opponent this week, we better. On offense, we can’t go a quarter without making a first down,” Wake coach Dave Clawson said. “We hit 2-of-7 deep balls. The week before was not as many. That’s an area we still have to get better on. Our receivers have to do a better job of playing the ball in the air.”
The Deacs have been outgained in two of their three FBS wins this season, and they only outgained Duke by 20 yards.
“On defense, part of what happened is we want to stop the run,” Clawson said. “We want teams to be one-dimensional, but in doing that you can’t give up the 75-yard play. We gave up five passing plays of 49 yards or more.”
The biggest takeaway so far may be the resiliency of this team. What would have been back breakers the last two years have summarily been shrugged off by this team, as they continue the drive to be 1-0 each week.
“We’re thrilled to be 4-0, but we know we still have a lot of work to do and there are areas we still need to get better,” Clawson said. “It’s a lot more enjoyable coaching those things after a win, but we know if we don’t clean those things up they will result in us not winning games.”