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Wake Forest Football Spring Game Recap

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Offense “defeats” Defense 43-24 in odd format

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-Temple vs Wake Forest Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Author’s note: This article will include both statistics and my own observations from today’s spring game.

In what turned out to be a beautiful spring day, and what I would think was about perfect playing weather, Wake Forest held its annual spring football game.

This wasn’t your typical game though. Rather than pitting first and second teams against each other, Coach Dave Clawson and the staff decided to go with a different format that had the offense going against the defense for points. In an interview with Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal earlier this week, Clawson explained his reasons for going with this format.

Coach Dave Clawson said Tuesday that a shortage of available players in certain areas will prevent the Deacons from drafting two teams for the game, as they have the past two seasons. Instead the offense will face the defense.

“I think it’s a reward for the players when you can draft,” Clawson said. “But they understand.”

The positions undermanned this spring are the offensive line, defensive line, cornerback and wide receiver. To play one team against another would require too much shuffling players from one side to another.

“We couldn’t do two whole teams,” Clawson said. “We’ve been at most of the scrimmages with three corners. We don’t have 10 offensive linemen.

“We knew we were going to have this issue this spring. Even though we had a small senior class (of 11 seniors and redshirt seniors), we had a fair amount of the redshirt juniors not come back this year. So that made us thin in the spring.

“Our numbers will be good in the fall. We’ve got a big freshman group coming in. But right now we’re a little thin, and you’ve got some guys who are injured from the season.”

Tight end Cam Serigne returned to practice Tuesday from a sprained ankle, but Clawson acknowledges he’s not asking for too much from established veterans such as Serigne and defensive end Duke Ejiofor. The list of players recovering from injuries sustained either during the season or since spring practices began includes safety Cameron Glenn, running back Arkeem Byrd, wide receiver Cortez Lewis, running back Isaiah Robinson, running back Tyler Bell, linebacker Jacquez Williams and cornerback Thomas Dillon.

Below is the scoring system that was used for the game:

Honestly this was a very confusing format for fans, and I gave up trying to understand the score midway through the first quarter. Though I did think that the offense had an unfair advantage in this format. The game featured four 10 minute quarters.

The offense totaled 43 points by scoring 15 points from 15 1st downs, 8 points from 4 explosive plays, 12 points from 2 touchdowns, 6 points from 2 field goals, and 2 points from PATs.

The defense totaled 24 points by scoring 12 points from 2 stopped drives, 6 points from 2 4th down stops, and 6 points from a forced turnover.

Official scoring plays that would have counted in an actual game were a one yard run by Cade Carney, a 15 yard run by Matt Colburn, a 38 yard field goal by Mike Weaver, and a 27 yard field goal by Dom Maggio. Weaver also missed a 24 yarder off the right upright.

The opening kickoff by Mike Weaver actually sailed well behind the endzone and would have been a touchback, but in order to practice special teams Greg Dortch was given the opportunity to return it with a different ball. Dortch has some major speed and took it back for a touchdown, and though it didn’t count for anything it was certainly nice to see what he is capable of in the return game.

Colburn rushed for 48 yards and one touchdown on 12 attempts, and looks well on his way to securing the same role he had last season. Carney rushed for 17 yards and a touchdown on 6 attempts, and though he didn’t play much in the scrimmage still looks to be the clear #1 running back. Promising freshman Christian Beal finished with 25 yards on 11 attempts.

I wouldn’t put too much stock in the lower numbers though because plays were blown dead early in order to avoid risk of any injuries.

Kendall Hinton seemed to get the first team reps at quarterback and went 3-8 for 45 yards with a long of 22 yards. From my assessment, Kendall still has problems with his accuracy on deep balls, though is still great at eluding defenders in the backfield and turning would-be sacks into positive yardage.

John Wolford proved once again that he is by far the most consistent of the quarterbacks. Wolford went 5-7 for 132 yards with a long of 66 yards on a deep completion to Tabari Hines down the far sideline. He also had a 29 yard completion to Alex Bachman in the first quarter that set up the Carney touchdown.

Kyle Kearns completed all five of his attempts for 111 yards, including an impressive 45 yarder to Greg Dortch and a 38 yarder to Brandon Chapman on his first play from scrimmage. Jamie Newman’s day was rather short and not very eventful. He was 4-9 for 32 yards with a long of 11. Kyle Driscoll came in for one drive and went 1-2 for 3 yards.

As a whole, the Deacs were 18-31 for 323, no touchdowns, and no interceptions in the passing game.

I think at this point it’s pretty clear that the quarterback battle will once again come down to John Wolford and Kendall Hinton.

Receiving wise, James Sriraman had 5 catches for 39 yards, Alex Bachman had 4 for 82 yards, Tabari Hines had 3 for 81 yards, Greg Dortch had 3 for 62 yards, Brandon Chapman had one for 38 yards, Chucky Wade had 1 for 14 yards, and Davis Johnson had 1 for 7 yards.

Based on what I saw today I would like to see us throw a lot of screen passes to Dortch and Hines and let them use their speed in the open field. They are two of the fastest players we have had in a while, and I’d like to see Clawson take advantage of that.

On defense, Amari Henderson led the way with 8 tackles. Jaboree Williams had 6, Sulaiman Kamara had 5 including the only sack of the game, and a whole list of players had 4. Kamara, Grant Dawson, Carlos Basham, Luke Masterson, Justin Strnad and Nate Mays all had tackles for losses. Williams forced a fumble that was recovered by Jessie Bates and returned 7 yards before being blown dead in order not to risk injury.

Former Deacon great Calvin Pace was the honorary coach of the defense and former Deacon great Fred Robbins was the honorary coach of the offense.

Over 100 former Wake Forest football players dating back to the 1950s were honored at halftime of the game.

Overall I think there are plenty of things to watch for going forward, and many exciting possibilities for this team. I’m excited for football season, and think there are many talented guys on this team who can contribute immediately. I can’t wait for the freshmen to get here and show the impact they can have.

August can’t get here soon enough, but for now and as always Go Deacs!