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Wake Forest Football: Predictions for the 2022 Season

The staff gives their thoughts on the 2022 footballs season

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Football season is right around the corner, which means it’s time to take a look at the upcoming season and try to predict exactly what Wake Forest fans can expect over the next few months. The Deacs are coming off of a fantastic 11-3 season that saw them win the Atlantic Division and play in the ACC Championship game behind one of the best offenses the school has ever seen. Honestly, looking back at last season, with a few improvements on defense, there is a real chance that Wake could have gone undefeated. Unfortunately, the indefinite absence of Sam Hartman due to a medical condition will have a huge impact on the season, and things could change drastically depending on if or when he returns to the team. Whether or not he plays football this season, hopefully Hartman is ok and gets healthy again soon.


Overall Record: 7-5

Conference Record: 3-5

Wins (teams): VMI, Vandy, Liberty, Army, BC, Cuse, Duke,

Losses (teams): Clemson, Louisville, NC State, FSU, UNC

Most Important Game: Florida State

Trap Game: Army

Offense POY: AT Perry

Defense POY: Ryan Smenda

Most Improved/Breakout Player: Quinton Cooley

Division Finish: 4th

Bowl Game: Wasabi Fenway Bowl

Full disclosure: I am completely basing my predictions on the thought that Hartman may not play at all this season. Without knowing if or when he will play or the extent of his injury, it’s really hard to predict how the Deacs will look this season because Hartman is basically the heart and soul of this team. Wake has a good roster but losing a top 10 player in college football before the season even begins is an absolute bummer. I was hoping the Deacs could go back-to-back seasons with double digit wins, but without Hartman I have a harder time seeing that happening. Fortunately, Dave Clawson is still an incredible coach, so I still see Wake getting 7 or 8 wins and going to another bowl game. With the overhaul of the defense under Brad Lambert, hopefully the offense won’t have to score 80,000 points a game to find themselves in the win column this year. That alone should help take some pressure off of Mitch Griffis.

Without Hartman, the passing game is going to have to rely more heavily on AT Perry winning 1 on 1 matchups and making incredible plays, something he proved all last season that he is perfectly capable of doing regularly. I think he will have another great season, especially with Donavon Green taking away some of the focus of the defense. On the defensive side, I expect Ryan Smenda to have a big season under the guidance of Lambert, who has a history of developing linebackers at Wake Forest (Aaron Curry and Jon Abatte immediately come to mind). I expect him to be blitzing a lot more this season and be a nightmare for opposing offenses. The Florida State game is going to be huge for determining how good of a season Wake Forest can have without their starting QB. An early win on the road in Tallahassee could be massive for the team’s confidence and snowball into some more big wins later in the season. I am hoping for another great year of football, but I’m hoping even more that Sam Hartman gets healthy again.


Overall Record: 8-4 (regular season)

Conference Record: 4-4

Wins (teams): VMI, @Vandy, Liberty, Army, BC, UNC, Syracuse, @Duke

Losses (teams): Clemson, @FSU, @Louisville, @State

Most Important Game: Clemson

Trap Game: @Vandy

Offense POY: Sam Hartman

Defense POY: Ryan Smenda Jr.

Most Improved/Breakout Player: Justice Ellison

Division Finish: 3rd

Bowl Game: San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

So, here’s the thing. I could easily see us doing even better than this, which seems freaking insane. I could also see us barely making a bowl (though I see it as unlikely). We’ve lost a lot of quality personnel, but Coach Clawson and company have undeniably proven themselves at this point. By Wake Football standards, they reload. I don’t think we need to panic anymore. To an extent, In Clawson We Trust, and this schedule seems...I hesitate to say easy, but I’d call us slight favorites in a pretty shocking number of games. God, I hope I’m right. It’d feel spectacular to see the Clawson Machine keep chugging along, and the schedule is pretty dang favorable overall.


Overall Record: 9-3

Conference Record: 5-3

Wins (teams): VMI, Vandy, Liberty, Army, BC, Louisville, NC State, Cuse, Duke

Losses (teams): Clemson, FSU, UNC

Most Important Game: NC State game will be most important due to the rivalry and also, it’s the heart of the ACC schedule. After two tough games to start conference play, Deacs have to take advantage of a competitive conference opponent.

Trap Game: Army, right before a bye and two tough conference games, this just feels like a trap game.

Offense POY: Sam Hartman

Defense POY: Gavin Holmes

Most Improved/Breakout Player: Malik Mustapha

Division Finish:2nd

Bowl Game: Cheez It Bowl

With the season fast approaching, the Deacs look to build after a strong season last year, earning a conference championship game appearance. Wake Forest’s offense should lead the group behind Sam Hartman’s dual threat abilities (4,200 yards and 39 TDs). The defense is where the Deacs hope to make strides and hopefully some new schemes and voices augment the talented Demon Deacon offense. My prediction: a 9-3 record in a more competitive ACC with Hartman putting up big time numbers to get the Deacs to go bowling, again. The NC State game will be most important due to the rivalry and also, it’s the heart of the ACC schedule. After two tough games to start conference play, Deacs have to take advantage of a competitive conference opponent. Army, right before a bye and two tough conference games, this just feels like a trap game.


10-2, and I’m sticking with it.

I understand the concerns of missing Sam Hartman for an undisclosed amount of time, but it’s not going to be the entire season. I don’t know if it’s going to be Week 3, Week 7, or Week 11, but he’ll be back.

VMI, Vandy, and Liberty should be games you sprint ahead regardless of the quarterback and move on with your life. I can’t in good conscious with or without Hartman pick Wake to beat Clemson. I have a TON of questions of FSU this upcoming year (do they actually have receivers, can they replace a first-round pick, can they stay healthy for more than 5 seconds after already losing an OL for the year.) Army is Army, but this should be a game they win and not need 70 points to.

With or without Hartman going into the bye week 5-1 should be the baseline, I’d be ok with 4-2 but 5-1 is where I’ll sit.

Boston College is a team that I’m just out on. Outside of Jurkovec to Zay Flowers and Jaelen Gill, this just isn’t a team that excites me, and I don’t think the upside is there yet, alongside a massive injury on the offensive line. The next three games decide probably the season and if I light this prediction on fire. Malik Cunningham is elite, the run game is great, and I’m a fan of Tyler Hudson for them alongside that offensive line. I want to see if they have another receiver, and man that run defense still doesn’t seem like it’ll be good. A team that is going to get sucked in trying to overcompensate to stop the run seems like an extremely bad matchup against Warren Ruggiero.

NC State should be an electric team this year defensively. Two things are swaying me. 1) no this is not a report. I repeat this is not a report. I am not revealing anything, I’m not tipping my hand, I genuinely don’t know when Sam Hartman will be back. But I have a gut feeling he’ll be back prior to this game. I do not like the NC State offense. It wasn’t great last year, lost both running backs, their best receiver, and a first-round pick on the offensive line. Wake played one of their worst offensive games that week last year and won. If Sam is back, I think they spoil the Wolfpack’s year.

What’s the evidence UNC will be a better team than last year?

Syracuse and Duke will be annoying teams but at this stage of Wake’s development, should be handled.

No ACC championship but they backup the fact that they’re a team that isn’t just a flash in the pan

How do you think Wake Forest is going to do this year? Let us know in the polls below.

Go Deacs!


How many games will Wake Forest win this year?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    (56 votes)
  • 29%
    (73 votes)
  • 34%
    (85 votes)
  • 10%
    (26 votes)
  • 2%
    6 or fewer
    (6 votes)
246 votes total Vote Now


How many ACC games will Wake Forest win this year?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    6 or more
    (50 votes)
  • 38%
    (77 votes)
  • 34%
    (68 votes)
  • 2%
    3 or fewer
    (5 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now


What is the most important game of the year?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    (58 votes)
  • 45%
    NC State
    (102 votes)
  • 8%
    (20 votes)
  • 17%
    (40 votes)
  • 1%
    (4 votes)
224 votes total Vote Now


Where will Wake Forest finish in the Atlantic Division?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    (22 votes)
  • 46%
    (97 votes)
  • 35%
    (74 votes)
  • 6%
    4th or lower
    (14 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now


Who will be the offensive player of the year?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Sam Hartman
    (50 votes)
  • 53%
    A.T. Perry
    (111 votes)
  • 13%
    Donavon Green
    (27 votes)
  • 7%
    Justice Ellison
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
206 votes total Vote Now


Who will be the defensive player of the year?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Ryan Smenda
    (76 votes)
  • 40%
    Rondell Bothroyd
    (77 votes)
  • 10%
    Malik Mustapha
    (20 votes)
  • 5%
    Caelen Carson
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    (7 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now