The Wake Forest defense will be under new leadership on Saturday after head coach Dave Clawson announced the firing of Jay Sawvel. My guess is that it will be defensive line coach Dave Cohen calling plays against Rice, but that’s another story for another time. For now our focus is on the offense that that defense will face on Saturday.
Shawn Stankavage, a senior from Durham, is the starting quarterback for the Owls. He is 60-103 on the year, and has thrown for 671 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. He averages 6.52 yards per attempt and has a QB rating of 127.6. By comparison, Sam Hartman has a 115.0 QB rating. Stankavage also has 22 carries for 48 yards.
Junior Emmanuel Esukpa and senior Austin Walter lead the rushing attack in a system similar to the one Wake uses where the hot hand between Cade Carney and Matt Colburn II gets the carries. Esukpa has 84 carries for 395 yards and 2 touchdowns. He averages 4.7 yards per carry. Walter has 45 carries for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. He averages 5.4 yards per carry. Esukpa and Walter are the only ones with rushing touchdowns for the Owls.
Sophomore wide receivers Austin Trammell and Aaron Cephus, along with Walter, are the leading recievers. Trammell has 23 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. Cephus has 14 catches for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns. Walter has 11 catches for 168 yards. Sophomore tight end Jordan Myers, freshman tight end Jaeger Bull, and freshman wide receiver Brendan Harmon each have a touchdown catch on the year.
Seniors Jack Fox and Haden Tobola share the kicking duties. Fox is 10 for 10 on extra points, but just 4 for 7 on field goals. His long on the season is from 44 yards. Tobola hasn't attempted any extra points, but is 3 for 4 on the year on field goals, with a long from 36 yards.
The Owls are 1-3 on the year, defeating Prairie View A&M in their first game 31-28 on a last second field goal. They fell to Houston at home 45-27, Hawaii on the road 43-29, and Southern Mississippi on the road 40-22.
Against Prairie View, Rice had 397 total offensive yards on 87 yards passing and 310 yards rushing. Against Houston, the Owls had 439 yards of offense on 292 yards passing and 147 yards rushing. Against Hawaii, they had 446 total offensive yards on 299 yards passing and 147 yards rushing. Against Southern Mississippi, they had 262 total yards of offense on 125 yards passing and 137 yards rushing.
Rice is averaging 27 points per game, 386 offensive yards per game, 201 passing yards per game, and 185 rushing yards per game.
This game should be a good game for the Deacon defense to get back on track, as Rice doesn't have the explosiveness to make a lot of big plays. Expect a Wake Forest blowout in this one.