Griffin: As expected, Dave Clawson's first year was full of bumps and bruises. Given an empty cupboard, Clawson made the most of the situation. Sometimes I question his affinity for slow-developing, running plays, but overall I give him a good grade for this year. The players definitely improved as the season went on, culminating in the Virginia Tech win. Going forward, Wake has a strong leader with a clear direction and vision. He has been upfront that Wake will develop into an ACC contender. He is aggressive and intense on the practice field and the sidelines, which is shown in his players' effort level. In past years, it was frustrating to watch a unemotional, even aloof, Jim Grobe on the sideline. This passivity- let FSU and Clemson walk all over us- is no longer. As Russell Wilson always says... Why not us?
Riley: I think Wake Forest is in a good position moving forward. Knowing now what we do about the talent level of the team this year it would be hard to say that Wake is in a worse position. Coach Clawson and his staff have done a great job on the recruiting trail, ranking in the top 25 at one point in the Rivals rankings. The offense came along a bit as the year progressed, but it would be hard to say with any level of seriousness that it is anything other than two years away from coming close to above-average. Defensively, players continued to step up throughout the year and I still feel confident that it will be a strength moving forward, even with the losses of Noel and Johnson at the corner positions.
Matt: I would say Wake is definitely in a better position. We have a younger coach with a history of winning and building programs at various levels. Our team showed flashes of Herculean effort, and that's the kind of thing that reflects positively on coaching and attitude. We're struggling talent-wise in some areas (much like with basketball), but signs are generally good and I'm optimistic for the future.
Nick: I think that Clawson has certainly changed the direction of the program. We all expected 2014 to be more of a transition year. Clearly a lot of the Grobe-era players weren't on board with Clawson's more proactive style, but going forward that will obviously not be an issue. He's recruiting good talent (by anyone's standards), and talent that will fit in with his coaching philosophy. It's going to be somewhat of a slow process in that I don't think we're going to be competing for a bowl game next year. However, Clawson has earned my trust for now. I think that his recruiting skills prove that he has the ability to get players to buy into his vision for the program.
Chris: Directly, no. The cupboard is hardly any more stocked for 2015 than it was for 2014. It's very tough to gauge player development this season or predict what next year's team will look like, especially on offense. It could be that Clawson intentionally showed very limited looks in the run game this year as a way of keeping the cards close to the chest, but most signs point to the notion that he's trying to implement a specific type of system to the Wake offense, slow developing, between the tackles, two TE football. It's an interesting strategy in the ACC, especially going up against programs with a lot of speed and talent up front, and I hope if he plans to stick with it that we get a true tailback that can bruise up front and break some tackles. Where Wake is in a better position, though, I believe is in demeanor on the sidelines and off the field. It's refreshing to watch a coaching staff that looks engaged with the game, and also nice to see the coaches enter the 21st century on social media. While 2015 may only be marginally better than 2014 in the win column, I do think indirectly, the program is in better hands today than it was the last two years of Jim Grobe's tenure.