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Four Downs - How the weather will impact tomorrow's game

Four Downs takes a look at how the weather will likely impact Saturday's game between the Deacs and the Orange.

As we get closer and closer to Saturday night’s 7 p.m. kickoff against the Orange, we’re able to hone in even better on the weather forecast as Winston-Salem deals with less than ideal conditions from Hurricane Matthew.

First off — thoughts and prayers to those in Florida, South Carolina, The Bahamas, Haiti and elsewhere who are dealing with significantly worse things than how the gusty wind will affect the trajectory of a flying piece of pigskin in a game played by 18-22 year olds. My sister and her two daughters are in Orlando as I write this, trying to hunker down and wait out this storm. So far, so good.

It’s pouring where I live now, and it’s heading toward Winston-Salem with little to no letup until early Saturday evening, according to the latest hourly projections from The Weather Channel.

Then Saturday, the wind will pick up, blowing between 20 and 30 mph, with “gusts over 40 mph,” according to the Weather Channel.

Four Downs looks at how this affects tomorrow’s game.

Despite a turf field and the ability of BB&T Field to drain significant quantities of water, the football and field could still be wet.

A wet football field generally favors the offense, according to former Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard.

“In a wet environment, the quarterback and the wide receiver actually have the advantage,” he said. “Because the receivers know where they’re breaking — that puts them in a advantageous position if the quarterback can throw a wet football.”

ADVANTAGE: Slight Syracuse

Strong, gusty winds  

The Orange are throwing the ball an average of 48 times a contest so far this season, while averaging just 3.2 yards per rushing attempt. Starting quarterback Eric Dungey threw just 13 times against Wake last season, but hasn’t had less than 40 attempts in any game this year.

“I think the wind will be more impactful that a wet football due to rain.I would much rather play in a downpour as a quarterback than in a windy situation,” Maggard said. “Wind changes everything. The trajectory of the football changes — the wind can throw the trajectory off a few inches and a few inches can mean the difference in college football between a completion and an interception.

“Throwing the football in the wind is a tricky situation and can be dangerous for a quarterback. I look for Wake Forest to take advantage of the weather and beat Syracuse handily tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, the Deacs have a relatively balanced offensive attack, averaging 174 yards per game on the ground and 176 yards a game via the passing game. Syracuse has allowed more than 200 yards per game rushing to their opponents, who are hitting for 5.4 yards per carry.

ADVANTAGE: Huge Wake Forest

Special teams

Maggard spoke to Demon Deacon Digest about the importance of home field advantage in these situations, especially as it relates to special teams play.

The Wake coaching staff will have the upper hand on what kind of kick and coverage teams to use on both sides of the stadium depending on the wind direction and velocity. Dom Maggio’s ability to use both standard and rugby-style punts will be useful as well, in addition to Wake’s standard use of directional punting and coverage.

ADVANTAGE: Wake Forest

Crowd

This was shaping up to be a huge weekend for the Deacs. The team has started off 4-1 and have seems to have earned appreciation both on campus and in the Winston-Salem community. The fan base was engaged, and a 7 p.m. kickoff against a conference foe seemed to point to the possibility of having a big crowd at BB&T Field.

All that seems pretty unlikely now.

Additionally, once upon a time several dozen recruits were likely to make the trip, and I’m sure that list will be somewhat dwindled.

ADVANTAGE: Syracuse.




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