STS: Shakin the Southland
BSD: Blogger So Dear
STS: John Wolford has been put in a challenging situation with an offensive line weaker than off brand toilet paper and absolutely no support from the run game. He has been sacked a breathtaking 28 times this season. As much as Clemson's O-line has struggled, Stoudt and Watson have only been sacked a combined 17 times.
That said, Wolford has thrown 13 interceptions and just seven touchdowns. How much of that do you put on his shoulders versus the rest of the offense, and do you think he will grow into a good quarterback for a competent Deacon offense in the years to come?
BSD: Not all of those interceptions have been his fault. If you watch the film, a number of those hit receivers in the hands, but then ended up in the hands of the defense. He's made freshman mistakes and forced throws, but in his defense, part of him forcing throws is due to our receivers not gaining much separation and our offensive line has been downright atrocious. We also have no consistent running game, which greatly hurts any passing attack.
STS: I think all rational Wake Forest fans knew year one would be very hard for Coach Clawson. While a two or three win season should never be acceptable, there are some positives. For example, Wake Forest is finally out of the ACC cellar in recruiting (sorry Wolfpack).
How do you feel about the new staff to date? Is it similar to the feeling after a year of Jeff Bzdelik leading the basketball program (which I can only assume was hopelessness and impending doom) or is there good reason to be optimistic?
BSD: It's much different from the Bzdelik era because fans actually had expectations heading into Bzdelik's first season. After all, he inherited a top 10 recruiting class. Bzdelik also had a horrendous 2011 recruiting class, which gave us no hope that things would be better the following season. Bzdelik also had no prior track record of success. Clawson, on the other hand, has built programs and won everywhere he has been. He has a charismatic personality, had an outstanding finish to the 2014 recruiting class, and is on pace to have the best recruiting class (on paper) in Wake Forest football history. Fans are still optimistic about this program moving forward.
STS: Our readers at STS have been concerned about the Tigers' weak rushing attack that has produced a paltry 3.3 YPC with just 12 rushing touchdowns to date (for reference, Louisville's modest rushing attack has averaged 3.7 YPC and produced 18 touchdowns). Can Wake Forest's defensive front continue to the trend of opponents shutting down Clemson's rushing attack - especially in short yardage?
BSD: In the first half I believe we can. The problem our defense has been having is that they break down as the games go on due to fatigue and field position. Our offense struggles to generate first downs and big plays, so we cannot flip field position, and we cannot chew clock by having sustained drives. I expect your rushing game to get stronger as the night goes on.
STS: As bad as Clemson's rushing attack has been, Wake Forest's is historically bad, averaging just 1.1 YPC with only three touchdowns. Who is to blame? Do the running backs lack vision, speed, strength and other requisites to be effective, is the O-line failing to open holes, or is it both?
BSD: Everyone is to blame. Our offensive line absolutely cannot run block, but we don't have any backs who have vision, speed and strength. When you add in the fact that we have a true freshman quarterback, defenses can also focus in on shutting down the run game.
STS: Short of winning, what are you hoping to see from the Deacons on Thursday night?
BSD: To build on our positive second half performance against Boston College. I'm also hoping to eliminate as many mental mistakes as possible. I know that Wake is at a severe athletic disadvantage, but I want the reason we lose to be athleticism and experience. If we play a good game by our standards, then I'll be happy.
STS: Finally, to conclude let's do some over/under predictions:
Over/Under: 0.5 passing touchdowns from John Wolford
Over/Under: 0 rushing yards from Wake Forest
Over/Under: 5.5 sacks for Clemson's defense
Over/Under: 1.5 passing touchdowns from Cole Stoudt
Over/Under: 9 total points from Wake Forest
Over/Under: 0.5 ACC wins from Wake Forest
STS: We thank Robert Reinhard, the editor of Blogger So Dear, for taking some time on election night to share his thoughts on our Thursday night matchup with us. As basketball season starts, you can jump over to Blogger So Dear for great coverage and usage of advanced stats.