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Wake Forest's Offense Is No Longer a Laughing Stock

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A look at Wake's remarkable year-over-year improvement.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest's offense in 2014 was horrific by any metric imaginable. They finished 128th (last) nationally in Football Outsiders' S&P+ Offensive Ratings, as well as 128th in yards/game, and first downs/game. I don't necessarily blame the current coaching staff for that. That team just did not have adequate offensive talent. Ask any Wake Forest fan about this year's team, and they will tell you how dramatically improved this year's offense is. Just how much has the offense improved?

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I don’t know how many games <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wake?src=hash">#Wake</a> will win this year, but it’s amazing how much better this offense is… <a href="http://t.co/f5rT3lPnyR">pic.twitter.com/f5rT3lPnyR</a></p>&mdash; David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) <a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHaleESPN/status/651776590800625664">October 7, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Wake Forest has 16 freshmen or sophomores in the offensive two-deep. The offense got younger on the offensive line as well as the receiver positions, yet got significantly better. That is a major indicator of future success. Wake's two starting offensive tackles are both redshirt freshmen. One of them, Phil Haynes, just transitioned to offensive tackle last fall. Despite this, the sack rate is down 33%, and yards/carry are up 75%. Wake is also redshirting three offensive linemen this year, which will only bolster the 2016 team.

The receivers Wake has, are now dynamic. Cortez Lewis has very good size and physicality, while Chuck Wade is explosive, and can make people miss in space. Tabari Hines is shifty, and this doesn't even include redshirts Steven Claude and Scotty Washington.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It&#39;s clear, this program is moving in the right direction. &amp; based on this graphic, the WF Offense is doing the same <a href="http://t.co/RG09DJYo0t">pic.twitter.com/RG09DJYo0t</a></p>&mdash; Adam Scheier (@CoachScheier) <a href="https://twitter.com/CoachScheier/status/651931135581229056">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Wake is 19th in first downs/game, and averaged 24.6 first downs/game. That's 10.3 more first downs per game than Wake Forest had last year. While first downs are not the most important indicator of offensive success, it is still a major indicator of success. 10 additional first downs per game gives our offense more scoring opportunities, improves the field position for our defense, and also gives the defense longer breaks.

Regarding explosive statistics, Wake Forest has dramatically improved thanks to the staff's recruiting efforts in the 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes. In 2014, Wake had just 27 plays of 20 yards or more. That was last nationally. Through five games in 2015, Wake Forest already has 27. That's good for 25th nationally. Offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero deserves tremendous credit for the job he has done.

The schedule is very difficult, and I don't know how many games this team is going to win, but they're now fun to watch. This is a program I can believe in, and one that, as an alumnus, I'm proud to support. The remaining schedule this year is difficult, and there's no denying that, but there are still many opportunities for wins remaining on the schedule. The next four games are absolutely winnable, as is the season finale against Duke. Dave Clawson's proven process is working. This is an offense, and a program, on the rise.