Bill Connelly, SB Nation's advanced football statistics writer, has taken on the daunting task of ranking every FBS college football team. Unfortunately for Wake Forest fans, our beloved Demon Deacons came in at number 98. Which other teams are we around and does this ranking seem reasonable?
Connelly placed Wake Forest in Tier 7, which he titled, " :( ." Who does this place us near? Vanderbilt, San Jose State, Ball State, Syracuse, and Texas State, among others. Not exactly the Joe Flacco (i.e., elite) of college football. Is this a fair ranking? Honestly it's probably impossible to fairly say exactly where Wake Forest stands at this point. The offensive line was atrocious last year, but is in a complete overhaul this year. While the prospects are talented, the line is very unproven.
Wake Forest is also in a complete overhaul at receiver, especially after the news of Jared Crump's injury. We've seen a lot of promise from young receivers like Cortez Lewis and Tabari Hines in practices and scrimmages. Will that translate to game days? I believe so, but we're relying a lot on our young players. As Clawson says, "young guys will have to play old." Wolford's progression is also a major determining factor. He didn't overwhelm as a true freshman, but he was asked to perform under very difficult circumstances.
Another daunting task Wake must face in year two of the Clawson era is to provide Wolford time in the pocket to get rid of the ball. Time and time again last season Wolford was on the ground before he had a chance to make his way through his progressions. If the offense is going to be improved, which quite frankly is almost inevitable based on last year's numbers, the offensive line has to open up holes in the running game and provide Wolford with additional protection and time to release the ball downfield. At times in 2014, the offense seemed content to simply punt the ball after a first down loss in order to ensure there were no injuries or turnovers deep in our own territory.
Additionally, the Demon Deacons could show vast improvement on the field and still be looking at roughly the same type of record they put up last year: 3-9. While the schedule is relatively friendly at the beginning of the season with FCS-opponent Elon, conference opener Syracuse, and Army as the first three games, the end of the season features a brutal run of Louisville, Notre Dame, and Clemson - games where the Deacs are almost certain to be double-digit underdogs in each.
Similar to most other years, the goal for the Wake Forest team should be to make a bowl and in order for the Deacs to do so this year they will need to get off to a 3-0 start heading into homecoming against Indiana. Furthermore Wake will need to win a few games where they are likely to be the underdog, including against the Hoosiers and then two of four against N.C. State, Boston College, North Carolina, and Duke. It's difficult to see Wake getting a single win out of the aforementioned death row down the stretch plus the Florida State game, putting Wake squarely behind the 8-ball needing to win 6 of the remaining 8 games on the slate just to sneak into a bowl game at 6-6.
The 2015 season should provide Demon Deacon fans with a more entertaining season than last season provided and Coach Clawson genuinely seems to be up to the task of turning the struggling program around. All-in-all, the ranking of 98 by Connelly seems to be a relatively appropriate ranking for the young and inexperienced Demon Deacon football team. What do you all expect to see from the Wake team this season, and do you think the 98 ranking is too high, too low, or just about right? Let us know in the comments below.