According to Bill Connelly at SBNation, Wake Forest ranks 7th in the NCAA in returning production. Without getting too much into the stats behind it, last year he devised a different way to look at returning experience, and it showed that teams with a lot of productivity returning usually fared a lot better than the year before (shocking, I know).
Especially important to note about his findings is that when there is continuity at quarterback, receiving, and secondary, teams fare a lot better, while there is almost no correlation “whatsoever” between offensive line career starts and improvement or regression of the line.
Using Connelly’s method, Wake Forest returns 89% of it’s offensive experience (10th in the nation), and 78% of its defensive experience (21st in the nation). Combined that puts Wake at returning 84% of production from last season.
Based on the amount of productivity that the Demon Deacons have returning, Connelly projects a +4.1 PPG increase in offensive production, and a -2.6 PPG decrease in points allowed. Overall that puts Wake at around a 6.7 PPG margin difference than last year.
Considering the Deacs averaged 17.4 PPG last year and allowed 24.6 PPG, that brings the projection to approximately 21.5 PPG and 22 PPG allowed. That would rank Wake Forest 110th in the nation in scoring offense, and 28th in scoring defense. Hopefully the offense will experience a bigger jump than that, but it shows just how (historically) bad the offense has been for the past two years.
This is something that will be interesting to watch moving forward, as there is a fair amount of debate about experience/returning productivity vs. new talent level. It’s safe to say that most players get a certain amount better each year they are in school, but it’s hard to compare that increase in skill level vs. how good a higher rated freshman may be.
If Wake Forest is going to continue to recruit at their current level (mostly 3-stars with the occasional low 4-star,), then the Deacs have to develop talent and count on strong play from upperclassmen. This is obviously more important for Wake than a team that relies on a heavy stream of 4 and 5-stars year in and year out.
For other ACC teams, Louisville leads the nation in returning productivity, while Syracuse ranks 8th. Based on what Connelly has come up with so far, I would expect all three of these teams to see decent improvements from last year to this year.