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Reviewing the Wake Forest Football Offense

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Deacs’ offense out-performed all preseason expectations

North Carolina State v Wake Forest Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

Wake Forest football’s offense was expected to be the best it has been in the Dave Clawson era this season.

But none of us really knew how much potential this offense had prior to the season.

In fact, if offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero had opened up the playbook more before the Louisville game and been a little more aggressive, Wake Forest could easily be sitting at 9 or 10 wins. But that is another story for another time.

A large portion of the credit for this improvement by the offense goes to the offensive line. The line had been one of the biggest weaknesses in each of Clawson’s first three seasons, and now has proven to be one of the best offensive lines in the ACC.

The line only gave up a total of 17 sacks for 101 yards this season, which is a little under 1.5 sacks per game. This stat is huge, as it shows that quarterback John Wolford was given plenty of time and protection to be able to throw the ball to open receivers, and was also given time to wait for a receiver to get open to make the best pass possible.

Nobody could have predicted the level of production from John Wolford this year. Remember that coming out of spring camp Wolford wasn't even the starter, as he was second on the depth chart behind Kendall Hinton. He won the job after playing really hard during summer and fall camp.

Wolford ending up having a Heisman candidate worthy season, so much so that Wake fans have started the social media campaign #WhyNotJohn. In fact, if Wake received more national attention and had more than seven wins, Wolford would likely be one of the top candidates for Heisman. Cam wrote a great piece on Wolford’s case for Heisman that you can read here.

John completed 63.7% of his passes, threw for 2792 yards, 25 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions. He also rushed for 10 touchdowns, meaning that he accounted for 35 total touchdowns.

Wolford is the first quarterback in NCAA history to account for 35 touchdowns while only throwing six interceptions. His 35 touchdowns are the most in a single season Wake Forest history, passing Riley Skinner’s mark of 28 set in 2009. His 74 career touchdowns surpassed the previous program record of 65 set by Riley Skinner and Tanner Price. His 25 passing touchdowns this season are second only to Riley Skinner’s 26, which he will likely break in the bowl game.

John’s 8394 career passing yards are third in program history behind Skinner and Price. His 2792 passing yards this season are third behind Skinner and Price, though with a really good bowl game performance he could pass Price. His 9446 career yards rank second only to Skinner’s 9923. He has 55 career passing touchdowns, second only to Skinner’s 60.

John has accounted for 3407 yards this year, which broke Riley Skinner’s single season record of 3216. Wolford’s 499 yard game against Syracuse this year and his 475 yard game against Louisville rank 3rd and 4th in program history for most yards in a single game. His 461 passing yards against Louisville rank 5th in program history for passing yards in a single game. Wolford’s 5 passing touchdowns against Louisville tied Jay Venuto’s program record set in 1980.

Needless to say Dave Clawson made the right decision in starting John Wolford at quarterback this year.

Freshman receiver Greg Dortch went out with an injury after the Louisville game, but still set several records for a freshman receiver. Dortch’s nine receiving touchdowns this season put him in a tie for 3rd on the all-time Wake Forest list. He would have easily broken the record had he not suffered the season-ending abdominal injury. His four receiving touchdowns in the Louisville game set a new Wake Forest single game record.

Dortch had 53 receptions for 722 yards and could have easily gotten close to 1000 to be in the top ten receiving yards for a single season if not for the injury. He averaged 90.2 receiving yards/game, by far the most on the team, and by far the most for a Deacon freshman.

Senior tight end Cam Serigne had a record breaking season of his own. He holds the ACC record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end with 20, as well as the ACC record for career receiving yards by a tight end with 1963 yards (and counting). He is tied for fifth on the Wake Forest single season receiving touchdowns list with eight this year.

Serigne holds pretty much every program record for tight ends.

Tabari Hines, Scotty Washington, Alex Bachman, and Chuck Wade all did a nice job of stepping up in the absence of Dortch, as they combined for 11 touchdowns on the season, most of which came after Dortch’s injury.

Hines stepped up and became the second leading receiver after Dortch, as he hauled in 45 receptions for 625 yards and 5 touchdowns. He averaged 52.1 receiving yards per game, and really stepped up in the slot after he initially lost his position to Dortch.

Though Cade Carney started the year first on the depth chart at running back, it was Matt Colburn II who really took over that position, and became the primary back as the season wore on, after injuries to Carney and Arkeem Byrd.

Colburn had 145 rushing attempts for 754 yards and 6 touchdowns. He averaged 62.8 rushing yards per game to lead the team in rushing. His big breakthrough came in the Louisville game though, and his 237 yards rushing against Syracuse rank seventh all time in program history.

Kicker Mike Weaver’s 19 field goals this season place him tied for 3rd on the all-time list behind himself last year and Sam Swank. His 66 career field goals are second to only Sam Swank. Weaver’s career field goal percentage of 76.7% currently ranks best in Wake Forest program history.

Wake Forest scored 404 points and averaged 33.7 points per game this season, food for 33rd in the nation, and the most in a long time for a Deacon team. The Deacs gained 265 first downs, were 68/173 for 39% on third down, and were 10?18 for 59% on fourth down.

They gained 2210 rushing yards, had 20 rushing touchdowns, averaged 4.5 yards per rush attempt, and averaged 184.2 rushing yards per game.

The Deacs had 3199 passing yards for 29 passing touchdowns, averaged 8.5 yards per throw, 13.9 yards per catch, and 266.6 passing yards per game.

Wake Forest had 5409 total offensive yards on the season, averaged 6.2 yards per play, and 450.8 yard of offense per game.

The uptempo offense that the team has gone to led to only averaging 26:48 in time of possession per game, but since the Deacs were scoring constantly this stat doesn't mean all that much.

Wake Forest scored 50 touchdowns and 19 field goals, and finished 47-50 for 94% in the redzone. The Deacs were 31-50 for 62% on redzone touchdowns.

This team liked to get out to a fast start, outscoring opponents 112-60 in the first quarter. It maintains the scoring until the fourth quarter, in which it has been outscored 79-78, usually when the first team offense is already off the field.

All stats are courtesy of wakeforestsports.com.

This offense is the best we seen since the days when Riley Skinner led the offense, and has set many Wake Forest records. I hope you are as excited as I am to watch this team one more time in a bowl game. This is a special offensive team.

As always, GO DEACS!!!