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2021 Wake Forest Football Opponent Preview: Norfolk State Spartans

A quick look at the FCS opponent for the 2021 season

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After taking care of the Monarchs yesterday, the next team up on the schedule for the Deacs is another school from Norfolk, Virginia that cancelled their 2020 football season: the Norfolk State Spartans. As this is the annual FCS opponent for the Deacs, and very much should just be a tune up and a chance to get some of the younger players and walkons some playing time, I’m going to be brief in this one.

Game Date: Saturday, September 11th, 2021

Opponent: Norfolk State Spartans

Conference: MEAC

Head Coach: Latrell Scott (21-35)

2020 Stats : Cancelled

2019 Stats

Record: 5-7, 4-4

Highest Ranking: N/A

Post-Season: N/A

Wins: Virginia State, Howard, Morgan State, NC Central, Delaware State

Losses: ODU, Coastal Carolina, Montana State, Florida A&M, NC A&T, Bethune-Cookman, SC State

Yards per Game: 374.6

Yards Allowed per Game: 422.8

Points per Game: 28.9

Points Allowed per Game: 29.0

As I stated earlier, this will be Wake’s second straight opponent in the 2021 season that hasn’t played a real football game in almost 2 years. Even without the talent disparity between a Power 5 school and the FCS, that gives the Deacs a pretty big advantage right out of the gates in this one. Frankly, I’m not really sure that either of the first couple of games is going to do anything to prepare the Deacs for FSU on week 3.

On offense, the big time playmaker for the Spartans is redshirt senior QB Juwan Carter. In 2019, Carter led the Spartans completing 60% of his passes for 2,631 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions—he added 6 more touchdowns with his legs. He led the MEAC in passing yards, total offense, and touchdowns responsible for and gained 2nd Team All-MEAC honors in the process. For comparisons sake, in his two games against FBS opponents in 2019, Carter completed 63% of his passes for just 255 yards (200 of which came against ODU), 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.

On the defensive side of things, the Spartans lost their three top tacklers—a combined 283 tackles and 15 tackles for loss—on a defense that gave up over 200 yards per game rushing in 2019. Luckily for the Spartans, they do return redshirt senior Chris Meyers in the trenches; the MTSU transfer finished the 2019 season with a MEAC high 9 sacks and a team high 10 tackles for loss, earning 3rd team All-MEAC honors. They also return Devyn Coles, who had a MEAC high 5 interceptions in 2019 as a freshman. Having to replace three of the top players on a defense without any game action is a tall task, and the Deacs should be able to take advantage of that inexperience.

Once again I will go out on a limb and say that Wake Forest absolutely should win this game. Norfolk State is an FCS program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2011. In that time, the Spartans have managed to win more than four games only one time, in 2019. On top of all that, they haven’t played a football game in forever. It would be best if the Deacs could put this one away quickly and keep the starters fresh for FSU.