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Wake Forest vs. Indiana Preview

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The Hoosiers defeated the Demon Deacons by 7 points in Winston-Salem last season. Will we see a different result in 2016?

Indiana v Florida International Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will take on the Indiana Hoosiers this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Deacs are looking for revenge after the Hoosiers beat the Demon Deacons 31-24 in Winston-Salem last September. Will there be a different result in Bloomington? Let’s take a look at how the teams match up.

Wake Forest on Offense

Wake Forest’s offense will be led by John Wolford on Saturday, who is filling in for the injured Kendall Hinton. Wolford is a very interesting backup quarterback because he has started more than 20 games in his Wake Forest career. He looked very shaky early on against Delaware (starting 2-9), but he settled in and went 11-15 for the remainder of the game.

Wake’s receivers should look to utilize double moves to get open and convert big plays. Indiana’s defense has been strong in run support, and defending underneath routes, but they have given up their share of explosive plays in the passing game. The loss of Hinton hurts here, as he throws a nice deep ball. Still, if Wolford can connect on a few, then Wake has a great chance to come home 4-0.

Indiana is replacing a lot from last year’s defensive line, and they are mostly untested. This should allow Wake’s running game to get going. Indiana is very experienced at linebacker and in the secondary, but Wake’s push on the offensive line, should allow players like Matt Colburn and Tyler Bell to get to the second level against the linebackers.

Wake Forest on Defense

Wake Forest is going to needs its defense on Saturday, as the Hoosiers are the best offensive team that the Deacs have faced to date. They are currently 43rd in the S&P+ offense rankings, and Kevin Wilson teams are historically very good on offense.

Indiana lost quarterback Nate Sudfeld, but they are still passing the ball very well. Richard Lagow is averaging 7.8 yards attempt, has completed 65% of his passes, and has thrown for 506 yards and 4 interceptions in just 2 games. Wake’s secondary has looked shaky to start to season, and this is a huge concern of mine in this contest. Indiana has hit big plays, and the Wake secondary has to limit these opportunities. Hopefully this unit has improved since the Duke game.

Indiana had an outstanding offensive line last year, but they lost an all-American left tackle. They returned an all-American right guard in Dan Feeney, but he’s questionable with a concussion. Wake Forest’s defensive line, particularly Duke Ejiofor, has been able to generate a lot of pressure this year. This line will test them, but I believe Wake’s line has the speed and scheme necessary to get to Lagow.

The Hoosiers have a very good back in Devine Redding. He ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, and he already has 245 yards. He doesn’t break explosive runs, but he is very good at gaining reasonable chunks and helping the offense stay on schedule and get in third and manageable situations. If Indiana can do that, then that will eliminate the opportunities that Wake has to bring a blitz in obvious passing situations. Wake’s rushing defense has been stout, but this will be a test for the front seven, and the safeties when they help in run support.

Overall

Wake can most certainly win this contest, and is only a touchdown underdog, but I believe it’s going to come down to who can generate the most explosive plays. Unfortunately, I worry that Indiana catches the Wake secondary off guard a few too many times, and that the Wake offense isn’t able to respond with enough big plays of its own. I’m picking the Hoosiers in this one.