The Deacs were handed their first loss of the season last week against NC State, but they have a great opportunity this week to get back on track at home against 2-3 Syracuse. The Orange run a fast paced offense that is averaging almost 500 yards a game. Fortunately for Wake Forest, the Orange defense also gives up about 500 yards a game. If the Deacs wants to pick up the win in front of the home crowd this week, they’ll need to keep a close eye on these players:
Offense: Amba Etta-Tawo, (RS) Sr. WR
Etta-Tawo is a Maryland transfer (#GoACC) who is thriving this year in the Orange’s up tempo offense. For the Terps last season, he had a pretty pedestrian year, catching just 20 passes for 216 yards. This season, on the other hand, he has already caught 47 passes and leads the nation in receiving yards with 840. I think it’s safe to say transferring worked out pretty well for him. Having scored 6 TDs already this season, Etta-Tawo is definitely a big play threat down the field for the Orange, and he excels at winning 1 on 1 match ups with defenders. Anyone who has watched the Deacs this year knows that they have struggle defending against big plays in the passing game. Add that with an opposing team that throws the ball 48 times per game and a receiver that is leading the nation in yards, and it may be the formula for a perfect storm. The Wake Forest secondary will need to bring their A-game on Saturday or Etta-Tawo may find the end zone multiple times.
Defense: Zaire Franklin, Jr. LB
Franklin is a fast linebacker who led the Orange in tackles last season with 81 and added 11 tackles for loss. He is on pace for another great year this season with 41 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 interception through 5 games. Against a team that runs almost 87 plays per game, it is crucial that Wake Forest’s offense stays on the field and gives the defense time to rest. If Franklin uses his speed to get in the backfield and blow up the Deacon rushing attack, it will put a lot of pressure on the Wake Forest offense to convert 3rd downs throwing the football, something they haven’t been great at doing all year. Bottom line: the Deacs must control the ball and keep the fast paced Orange offense on the side line. A linebacker like Franklin who can get into the backfield and disrupt the run could be devastating to Wake Forest’s chances at getting a win.