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Wake Forest is almost always well-coached and they are a difficult team to beat. The season usually comes down to how many 50-50 games they can win. This season is no different. On paper, it seems that they should have a good offense with 10 starters back from a team that had success last year. There are major improvements needed on defense as the Deacons gave up 37 points or more in 5 of the 9 games they played that ultimately led to a 4-5 record. Still, there is a lot of confidence from the coaches and players in Winston-Salem.
Offense: QB Sam Hartman passed for 2,224 yards with 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions (4 coming in the bowl game loss to Wisconsin), and returns for his sophomore year. He has experience and has shown he can take care of the ball and handle the team. He has 2 excellent receivers to get the ball to in Jacquari Roberson (62 catches, 926 yards, and 8 TD’s) and Donavon Greene (29 catches and 582 yards). The entire offensive line returns and they hope to cut down on the 27 sacks allowed last year. Christian Beal-Smith rushed for 732 yards last year and he returns So the offense is solid.
Defense: On this side of the ball Wake needs to move forward in a major way. They have a couple of pieces to build around in 3rd-Team All-ACC tackle Miles Fox who had 10.5 tackles for loss in 2020. Also gaining a third-team mention was safety Nick Anderson. Major improvements have to made at cornerback and the Deacons gave up way too many big plays that have to be cut back. They have experience at linebacker as third-year starter Ryan Smenda Jr. returns.
9/3 Old Dominion
9/11 Norfolk State
10/23 at Army
For some reason the Deacons have only three non-conference games. Fortunately, they are all winnable and they need to grab all 3 of them. The first two are at home and are a must. The road test at Army is one of those 50/50 games.
9/18 Florida State
9/24 at Virginia
10/9 at Syracuse
11/6 at North Carolina
11/13 NC State
11/20 at Clemson
11/27 at Boston College
There are 9 conference games and the season will depend on how many toss-up games Wake Forest can win. The home games include Florida State, Louisville, Duke, and NC State which are all games that can be won but they can all be lost as well. The road schedule is tougher with games at Clemson and North Carolina as well as the other toss-up games.
Summary: The strength of the team is on the offensive side of the ball and the defense is going to have to improve significantly. This team is well-coached and will show up every game ready to play. The schedule is not overwhelming but neither are the Deacons.
Predicted Finish: 5th Place in the Atlantic Division
Overall Record: 6-6
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