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Why John Wolford Was Named Wake Forest's Starting Quarterback

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Yesterday head coach Dave Clawson named John Wolford the starting quarterback. Today we examine why that is.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

We had a pretty good gameplan here at Blogger So Dear in terms of detailing and comparing Kendall Hinton vs. John Wolford to make cases as to why each should be the starting quarterback. Rob wrote a fantastic piece on Hinton yesterday and I was set to write my case for John Wolford today.

As it turns out, Dave Clawson named John Wolford the starting quarterback yesterday afternoon (presumably he did not read Rob's persuasive article), so I sit here as the decided victor, and I will take my spoils.

In all seriousness, it was a tight race all fall, and was noted as such by people more "in the know" than I claim to be, and Clawson noted that Hinton will get snaps as well against Tulane. While Wolford wins round one, this could be a long battle to see who is the starting quarterback for the majority of the season.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
John Wolford 6'1, 200 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8435 142 234 1791 9 11 60.7% 22 8.6% 6.2
Kendall Hinton 6'0, 195 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8528 93 178 929 4 5 52.2% 17 8.7% 4.3
Kyle Kearns 6'2, 195 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8677
Jamie Newman 6'4, 220 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8585
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Tyler Bell TB 5'11, 215 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8013 131 446 1 3.4 4.2 24.4% 1 1
Kendall Hinton QB 6'0, 195 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8528 76 478 7 6.3 5.7 48.7% 4 2
Matt Colburn TB 5'10, 200 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8321 66 239 1 3.6 4.6 22.7% 1 1
John Wolford QB 6'1, 200 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8435 51 261 3 5.1 6.2 37.3% 5 1
Isaiah Robinson TB 5'10, 225 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8308 39 120 0 3.1 3.0 25.6% 0 0
Dezmond Wortham TB 6'0, 200 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8391 9 21 0 2.3 0.9 22.2% 0 0
Rocky Reid TB 6'0, 220 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8643
Cade Carney RB 5'11, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8457
Arkeem Byrd RB 6'1, 190 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8453







(tables taken from Bill Connelly's Wake Forest preview, which I encourage everybody to go read).

I have always been a lot higher on John Wolford than most have around here, and on other various message board forums. While he has admittedly struggled at times, I think that is more of the product of the team around him than what he can and cannot offer. I do not refute for a second that Kendall Hinton is a more dynamic player and can turn broken plays into big plays. He has great quickness and speed, and that translates into elusiveness that is hard to be taught. Complement that with great deep ball, and you have a pretty solid choice.

What won John Wolford the starting job in my viewpoint is not necessarily the fact that he can make mind-blowing plays, (although his run against Elon last season showcased that he has pretty good speed in the open field), but rather he can make the simple, necessary play when called upon. This consistency and reliability from Wolford is what gave him the edge over Hinton.

The big knock on Hinton last season was his inability to reliably make the short-to-intermediate throws. While that has seemingly improved a decent amount, he had a pretty long way to go in terms of catching up to Wolford in terms of completion rate. Wolford completed 60.7% of his passes last season, compared to just 52.2% from Hinton. Despite Hinton having the better ability to throw and complete the deep ball, Wolford still averaged almost 2 more yards per attempt than Hinton did (6.2 to 4.3).

There is absolutely no debate that the legs of Hinton provide a fantastic weapon that has to be game planned for by opponents, as he led the team with a 6.3 YPC, 478 yards, and 7 touchdowns on the season. Wolford managed third best on the team with 261 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a 5.1 yard per carry.

What this decision from Clawson indicates to me is that he is probably looking for less volatility in the offense and more of a known commodity. Both Hinton and Wolford had troubles with turnovers last season, both interceptions and fumbles alike. Protecting the ball is something that must be a main priority this season.

With an improved offensive line, running game, wide receiving corps, and presumably improvement from Wolford and Hinton, the entire offense is going to be a lot better than last season. When you put all of that together, Wolford makes a lot of sense because he is more of a pocket passer, who has shown that he can stand in there and take a beating. He can beat the defense with his legs if necessary, but that's not something that Wake Forest needs to do a ton of this season.

More consistency from the running game will allow Wolford more time to pass, and he has shown that when given time, he can be a pretty big threat.

There will without a doubt be a good amount of continuing discussion as to why Wolford was chosen over Hinton, and I expect people will continue to chatter about Hinton if Wolford slips up in the slightest over the first few games.

What I would like to see is Hinton is specifically designed package plays for him that maximizes his strengths and catches the defense off guard. I think he can be more productive with a smaller set of plays than he can be if the defense has all week to gameplan for what he brings to the table.

Given time to throw and an ample running game, I believe that Wolford can be a very good quarterback for Wake Forest, and really like what he brings to the table.

I am firmly in the camp of "if you have two quarterbacks then you have no quarterbacks", so this is a very delicate situation that Coach Clawson has to deal with. I don't for a second buy into any of the talk that the staff made a decision with any eye to who may or may not transfer if they don't play.

Any discussion of that is pure hearsay and has no backing in truth. Clawson named Wolford the starter because he believes he gives Wake Forest the best shot at winning week in and week out. Period, end of story.

If that changes then I have the utmost faith that he will be the first to switch things up and put the Deacs into a position that optimizes its chances of winning the most games.

There will certainly be a lot of discussion about this, so feel free to disagree (or agree!) with me in the comments below!