Wake Forest opens its 2016 season in just 10 days when they host the Tulane Green Wave at BB&T Field. Though the season is close, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson has yet to name a starting quarterback. Junior John Wolford and sophomore Kendall Hinton have been splitting first team reps in camp and scrimmages. Wake Forest beat writer Dan Collins shared his opinion in Sunday’s edition of the Winston-Salem Journal. Today I make the case for why Kendall Hinton should be Wake’s starting quarterback, and tomorrow Riley will argue for John Wolford.
I’ll begin my case by acknowledging that Kendall Hinton is not a perfect quarterback. He completed just 52.2% of his passing attempts last season, had more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4), and averaged just 5.2 yards/attempt. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s focus on what he can bring to the team in 2016.
Upside. Upside. Upside.
Kendall Hinton had flashes of brilliance during the 2015 season. The scary thing is, that was just with his legs, but he has legitimate arm talent. He was rated by 247 Sports as being the 31st best pro-style quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class, and the Wake coaching staff raved about how he could make all of the throws they needed.
He struggled with short-to-intermediate routes in 2015, but he was much improved when I saw him in practice just under 2 weeks ago. He was reading the defense, getting rid of the ball faster, had improved velocity, and was more accurate on those timing patterns. There’s little doubt in my mind that he can consistently get our players the ball in stride.
If Hinton can make those throws, then the case for Wolford weakens. While the two have similar top-end speeds, Hinton is far shiftier, and far better at getting in positions where he can run in the open field. He made that evident last year when he averaged more than 4 yards per carry, and scored 7 rushing touchdowns.
Wolford can be a very solid quarterback for Wake. I was definitely impressed by what I saw out of him at practice, and acknowledge that Wake will have much better quarterback player regardless of who wins the job, but it’s Hinton’s time.
Wake can have a very exciting and effective offense with Hinton at the helm. If the pocket collapses, he can scamper down the field for a first down or more. Conversely, if opposing secondaries are providing excellent coverage down the field, then he can turn nothing into a positive play and stay on schedule.
Hinton’s athleticism forces every defensive player to have to account for his presence. I don’t have numbers on this, but I would bet that Wake had a higher rushing average with Hinton at quarterback, even removing Hinton’s rushing attempts. Hinton’s ability to run a zone read keeps the defensive ends honest, and enables Wake’s running backs to have more space. It also means the defensive ends can’t be as effective at rushing the passer. Additionally, Hinton can begin to take off, draw the attention of corners, and then hit Wake receivers over the top. There are a lot of creative wrinkles that offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero can include with Hinton’s versatility.
The offense’s floor is a probably a little lower with Hinton at quarterback, and isn’t without risk, but I believe the upside is much higher, and the coaching staff should take a chance on the sophomore from Durham.
I’ve made my case. Do you all agree? Let me know in the comments section below.