WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The final score was 43-24, but the tally that had the most impact was the number of key players unable to contribute Saturday in the Wake Forest annual Spring Game.
The Deacs were missing double-digits players who figure to contribute in the two-deep depth chart in 2017. For that reason, Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson had the team forgo having a draft for the game and developed a convoluted scoring system.
The offense won, though that was also impacted heavily by who played on the defensive side of the ball and how many reps were played by regulars who did participate.
Clawson chatted with the media at the end of the scrimmage.
On his general thoughts on the scrimmage
Clawson: “It’s a spring game. I think two things: The offense is coming along. We’re making progress on offense. We’re getting older and our talent level is getting better. You saw some explosives that we made today. And the defense is a little short handed. We didn’t play Duke (Ejiofor) much. Obviously not having Cam Glenn out there. We need to get healthy, and we got a little thin up front. When we’re thin up front, and the offensive line is healthy, for the first time in three years it gave the advantage to the offense. When you have more time to throw it, guys have more of a chance to get open and we’re going to make more plays.
“Overall, there was a huge gap when we got here between the offense and the defense. I think that gap is starting to close a little bit.”
On Kendall Hinton
Clawson: “He looked inconsistent. Kendall has a little bit of a hip flexor issue and we weren’t going to play him. He felt good today, but he couldn’t move around the way he usually can and I think it affected his throwing. With Kendall, he missed all of last year with an injury. He needs these reps and needs this game, but he wasn’t completely healthy and I think that impacted his play. Another thing that impacts Kendall is whenever you don’t go live (full tackle), that hurts him. Part of his quarterbacking skill is the ability to make people miss and create plays. Our ability to run the quarterback with him in there wearing a green shirt and he has a hip flexor, that always impacts his play.”
On Grant Dawson’s importance to the program
Clawson: “Unbelievable. I’ve said it a lot of times, Grant is just one of those do-right guys. He has worked himself into being a good football player. He’s a local guy from Reagan High School who came here as a walk-on, earns a scholarship, then becomes a captain — very similar to Hunter Williams, and what he did. I’m really proud of him. He has to finish the deal, by performing on the field next year. All those things are nice, but you have to go out there and perform and do it at a high level.”
On if it’s different this spring coming off a bowl appearance
Clawson: “I don’t know it it’s different. Our goal is to always get better. Our theme for the year is ‘Keep Building.’ Quite honestly, I think our guys don’t like hearing that they had a great year last year. It wasn’t a great year. We improved and got better. But we don’t want 7-6 to be the standard for a great year. People mean well when they say it, and I certainly take it the right way. We can’t have the approach here that winning six games and getting to a bowl is a great year. We have higher aspirations than that, and the next step is to get more wins and compete for an ACC Title. Saying that, in our conference and our division I know how hard that is. That’s easy things to say and a tall mountain to climb in our conference. But that’s where we want to get to, and it’s going to take a lot of work in the summer to get there.”
On offensive line position battles
Clawson: “I think Patrick Osterhage is probably No. 4. I think the battle for No. 5 is between Jake Benzinger and A’Lique (Terry). A’Lique didn’t play this week because he was banged up. We’re going to need seven guys. You say today that Patrick Osterhage went down. We need eight guys to have the mentality that they’re a starter. We need to get A’Lique healthy and those other guys to play at a high level.”
On position battles at other spots
Clawson: “I think quarterback, the question is exactly what the depth is there. I think we go into the fall with Kendall at the No. 1 and John (Wolford) as the No. 2. We have to get Jamie (Newman) going, and I thought Kyle Kearns had a good day.
“Certainly at receiver we missed Cortez (Lewis) and we didn’t have Scotty (Washington). We just got really thin this spring. We really need a corner to step up. We really do. That’s a position where if a freshman comes in ready to play, they will go. We need a complete corner who can cover and tackle — do everything we need our corners to do.”
On getting Alex Bachman to translate great camp work into season results
Clawson: “I think Alex is reliable, dependable, runs good routes and catches the football. We need receivers to do more — he has to make plays. Last year, how many times was our heart broke where he caught a ball that a toe was out of bounds. To me, if you take two catches and move them three inches, it’s a much different year. I think he had two deep ball catches last year where his foot was barely out of bounds. He was right on the edge of doing that.
"I think we’re in really good shape at the slot with Tabari (Hines) and Greg (Dortch). Then we have great competition between Chucky (Wade), Alex, Cortez and Scotty. Then we have some good ones coming in. They need to stay healthy.”
On not seeing much of Dawson or Jaboree Williams in the scrimmage
Clawson: “We got those guys about 30 snaps. We were so thin. Our goal was to get them about a half of football. We got our first group 42 plays and our second group about 35 plays. When Patrick Osterhage got his ankle rolled up, this football coach got a little nervous. We had Phil (Haynes), Justin (Herron) and Ryan (Anderson) rolling some with the 2s. We just couldn’t afford to get anyone else hurt.”
On if he achieved a final score somewhat resembling a football game
Clawson: “I have no idea how the scoring system works, and I came up with it.”
On Nate Mays and Justin Strnad at linebacker
Clawson: “I think Strnad is coming along nicely, and we got Mays a lot of reps. I’d say that’s a position where a freshman could come in and help us. I’ve said this before, at all these positions you have to have a pair and a spare. A pair and a spare at corner, safety, inside linebacker, tackle and end.
“You feel good with Cam (Glenn) and Jessie (Bates) at safety, but who’s the third? Is it Luke Masterson or DeAndre Delaney? Can a freshman come in and help us there? It’s the challenge of Wake at building depth.
“Traveon Redd had a good spring. Going into it right now, I’d say he’s the third safety.”