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Cade Carney Returns to Practice - Why That’s Especially Important Against Syracuse

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Carney’s return could be huge for Wake Forest against Syracuse.

Wake Forest v Duke Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Cade Carney returned to practice on Tuesday morning and that’s excellent news for the Wake Forest football team. Though he returned to practice, and “looked good” according to head coach Dave Clawson, Clawson also remained non-commital about Carney’s status for Saturday’s contest against Syracuse.

“We probably won’t tell you and you’ll find out Saturday,” was certainly my favorite quote from Clawson during Tuesday’s press conference. He also said “we’re starting to get Carney reps, and get him going in practice a little bit....We may have Cade and we may not.”

Carney missed Wake’s three previous games against Delaware, Indiana, and NC State, after spraining a knee ligament in an earlier practice. Carney had just 7 carries for 21 yards in the season-opener against Tulane, but he had a sensational game against Duke. The true freshman from Advance, North Carolina carried the ball 17 times for 108 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 55-yard touchdown run.

Carney, if he is healthy enough to play against Syracuse (and I believe he will) could feast on Syracuse’s woeful rush defense. Syracuse is 119th nationally in rush defense, and allows opponents to run for 5.37 yards/carry. It’s not much better when we examine their advanced rushing statistics. They are 107th in rushing S&P+, and very similar in rankings at both rushing success rate defense and stopping big run plays.

Wake has been at its best this season with consistent running that generates first downs, moves the ball down the field, and keeps the Wake Forest defense rested. The combination of Carney and Matt Colburn should be formidable on Saturday night. Syracuse has also been very susceptible to giving up big plays through the air. If John Wolford can connect on a deep shot early on, that should prevent Syracuse from stacking the box, which should only open up the rushing lanes even more.