As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will open its 2015 ACC schedule when they play Wake Forest on Sept. 12.
O-LINE STRUGGLES: Dave Clawson’s first season as head coach of Wake Forest was predictably a struggle, with the team finishing 3-9 and 1-7 in the ACC. The Deacons gutted out an ugly 6-3 win in double overtime against the Hokies in their penultimate game, which showed that while Wake Forest didn’t necessarily have the talent to compete in the ACC, they played hard for their first year coach. Much of the struggles came from a historically bad offensive unit that was 127th in the NCAA in both points (14.8) and rushing yards (39.9) per game. The Demon Deacons offensive line was the main culprit, giving up an unfathomable 48 sacks.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Wake Forest’s O-line will need to replace two spots this offseason including Cory Helms, who transferred to South Carolina in January. If Wake’s spring game was any glimpse into the running game in 2015, there’s plenty to be concerned about. Eight different players combined for 50 carries at just 74 net yards. The team’s two top returning rushers, Dezmond Wortham (13 rushes for 51 yards) and Isaiah Robinson (6 rushes for 11 yards) didn’t seem particularly impressive. But Clawson took a different view of the statistics. “If you look at how we run the ball, we’re clearly better from a year ago. How many plays last year didn’t even get back to the line of scrimmage?” he said after the spring game. “Are we ripping off 12, 15, and 20 yard runs? No, but everything’s getting back to the line of scrimmage and getting positive yards.”
PREDICTION: Syracuse’s only conference win came against the Deacons in a convincing 30-7 win. The margin will likely be significantly closer this year, but if Wake Forest continues to struggle protecting its quarterback and setting up the rush, then look for another Syracuse win. SYRACUSE 17, WAKE FOREST 10.