Wake Forest is 5-1. What are your thoughts right now as a Wake fan?
Grumpy: I'm pretty much thrilled. I had set a goal to go 6-6 and make a bowl game. We haven't earned a 6th win yet, but we have three home games left where we should be at least slightly favored. Of course, the schedule also gets a lot harder in the second half of the season, with games left against Louisville, Clemson, and FSU. But the team is positioned such that those games are not too important (an unlikely win in any of them would be a huge statement, but losses are not devastating if we can keep our players healthy). That's really my main concern, is keeping players healthy and picking up the wins we should pick up.
Chris: I'm very happy with the start of the season. I expected 4-2 or 3-3 at this point, so 5-1 is a fantastic start to the season. Granted, we've played the easier half of the season thus far, but we still have two or three winnable games left, and I think we can get to 8 or 9 wins, which isn't something any Wake fans I know were predicting. I'm already thinking about traveling to the bowl game.
Riley: Personally I am thrilled from what I am seeing both record-wise, and the turnaround across nearly all facets of the program. The 5 wins is probably higher than what we "deserve", but the good thing is that you only play each game once. This team is finding a way to win games in a plethora of different ways, and that's extremely encouraging as well. The complete 180 that Dave Clawson has been able to put on this team is nothing short of phenomenal. While the schedule is certainly not the hardest anybody will ever face, Wake needs just one more win to go bowling, and that was the season goal.
Put yourself in Clawson's position. If Kendall Hinton is healthy next week, who would you start against the Seminoles and why?
Grumpy: I don't think there is necessarily a wrong answer here (except the quarterback carousel we saw to start the year). Personally, if Hinton is healthy I'd give him back the spot he earned earlier in the season. I'm a little concerned with Wolford's mobility against what should be the toughest front 7 we've faced all season. Wolford has played really well in Hinton's absence, but against a team like FSU I think we need to have a more high risk high reward style and simply limiting mistakes probably won't keep us in the picture very long. Hinton played relatively well against the Noles last year, for what it's worth.
Chris: If Kendall Hinton is 100% next week he's the starter, but he has to earn it back in practice, so I'm guessing he won't have done that yet. I would start him only if he's 100% healthy, and anything less than that, Wolford has shown he can win football games, so he's my guy. I suspect the game won't be particularly close, and we may see some of Wolford, Hinton, and Kearns.
Riley: I would give Hinton the bye week to fully heal instead of throwing him out there against FSU this week. It will be interesting to see if there are any lingering effects from the hand/shoulder stinger that Wolford got on Saturday night, because that could obviously change some things. If Wolford can't go for some reason then I would definitely want Hinton to play instead of Kearns if at all possible. Wolford has gotten the job done so far for the Deacs and that provides the coaching staff with the luxury of not rushing Hinton back at all.
What impressed you the most about the team's performance against Syracuse?
Grumpy: It's a stupid answer, but just getting the win was what most impressed me. Not because Syracuse was a particularly incredible opponent (although they've had a high-powered offense), but just because this is the kind of game that I think Wake fans are used to seeing us lose in the past few years. Even though it felt like the team was outplaying Cuse, a few miscues meant that Syracuse was within 5 points of Wake throughout all but the last few minutes of the game. But, the team didn't fold, and instead scored touchdowns on both sides of the ball in the final minutes to seal the deal. That was really encouraging to see.
Chris: The difference all season has been the defense, but in particular, I was impressed with the linebackers and secondary against Cuse. Marquel Lee had the best game of his career, and with Syracuse unable to get their potent pass game going, stopping the run and short pass was key to securing the win.
Riley: The front seven for the Deacs was just unreal on Saturday night. Syracuse was always going to have a tough time in those conditions because the passing game was effectively eliminated due to the weather. When you factor in their non-existent running game against a tenacious run defense that we possess, that spells disaster for the opponent. Marquel Lee had the game of his life with 5.5 tackles for loss, and I expect he will bring in some national awards today for it.