Wake Forest holds first scrimmage of spring

Staff Reports, Special to Deacons Illustrated
Deacons Illustrated

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest head football coach Dave Clawson put the Demon Deacons through an 81-play scrimmage on Saturday at BB&T Field. The Deacon offense rushed for 115 yards on 45 carries while four quarterbacks combined to complete 21 of 36 passes for 221 yards.

“I thought it was a fairly balanced scrimmage,” said Clawson. “I thought the offense got off to a good start, had some great drives. Then in the second half of the scrimmage, the defense tightened down a little bit. Overall, you always want balance, which we had. Like every first scrimmage in the history of college football, at times it was sloppy. We had some missed tackles on the perimeter on defense which allowed for some big plays. Offensively, just at times it was sloppy. We had some quarterback-center snaps that really threw plays off. I think we had some missed opportunities. It was the first time we were out here with officials, without the coaches out there. As it wore on, it got a little sloppy.”

Early in the scrimmage, sophomore running back Cade Carney broke a 61-yard run before being caught at the 1-yard like by rover Demetrius Kemp. Carney bulled over for the touchdown on the next play and finished the day with 67 yards on the ground on six carries.

Clawson said he was excited about Carney’s run “but I wish it would have been 62 yards,” he deadpanned.

All four quarterbacks saw significant action. Kendall Hinton completed four of 12 passes for 50 yards, John Wolford was seven of 10 for 66 yards, Jamie Newman completed six of nine attempts for 61 yards and Kyle Kearns was four for five for 44 yards.

Hinton, named the starter entering spring camp, saw his first live action since suffering a knee injury against Delaware in Week 3 of the 2016 season.

“I think Kendall looked like a guy who hadn’t played football in a year,” said Clawson. “Kendall’s elusive, he’s dynamic, he’s going to make plays with his feet. It just looked like he hadn’t played in a while. I think it was great for him. The speed of the game, how quickly things happen. In practice, he gets four reps, John gets four, everything’s controlled. You get in a scrimmage and they have to play extended plays, its taxing physically.”

Hinton rushed for 10 yards on seven carries to lead the quarterbacks on the ground. Freshman running back Christian Beal, who entered Wake Forest in January, was the second-leading rusher overall with 37 yards on seven carries. He had an electrifying 27-yard run that included multiple stops, starts and jukes.

“Christian Beal did a nice job, had some nice runs,” said Clawson. “He’s picked things up quickly. We’re very excited about him. He has a lot of work to do like any guy who should be a senior in high school. But he had some nice runs.”

When asked if he was excited about the Beal’s jaunt, Clawson deadpanned “Just the nature of being a coach, (I asked myself) who missed him?”

Among the receivers, Hines led all Deacons with six receptions for 51 yards. Redshirt freshman Greg Dortch had four catches for 32 yards and junior Chucky Wade had two catches for 43 yards including the longest reception of the day, a 31-yarder from Newman.

The Wake Forest defense was led by sophomore cornerback Essang Bassey who had eight total tackles and a pair of pass break-ups. Linebacker Grant Dawson had seven stops while Traveon Redd made six tackles. Carlos “Boogie” Basham had a sack along with Nate Mays, Sulaiman Kamara and Duke Ejiofor.

“I think up front, Paris Black continues to develop, (along with) Boogie Basham, Sulaiman Kamara,” said Clawson. “We’ve got really good depth on the D line. We’ve got to get those guys game-ready. Not second team scrimmage-ready. We’ve got to get them game-ready. That’s our big focus this spring, developing the depth, developing the two-deep. Getting that group of players who redshirted last year, getting them ready to play 30, 40 plays per game or start a game.”

Clawson’s takeaway on Saturday’s scrimmage is that it will serve as a starting point for instruction this spring.

“There is some great teaching here,” said Clawson. “To me, our scrimmages are the preseason games. In the NFL they go to camp and they get four or five preseason games. These are our preseason games. So there’s nothing that teaches football like game situations. Today there’s so much to learn and teach from. You hope it’s a little bit better next week and a little bit better at the spring game. Then that last Thursday in August, it all comes together.”

What Clawson is expecting from the 2017 Deacon team is a bigger jump in offensive performance.

“That is the step we have to take on offense,” said Clawson. “More of those explosive plays. We’ve gotten a field goal better every year. From 14 to 17 to 20 (points per game). I want to see us get a touchdown better. And the only way we’ll get a touchdown better is if our skilled guys start making explosive plays. We don’t want to be a field goal better, we want to be a touchdown better. We want to be a mid to high 20s (scoring team) and pushing 30s. At some point, have a (big) game on offense. Indiana last year was a game we won like that. Good programs, there’s a little bit of ebb and flow on which side of the ball is stronger. I hope next year we’re a much more balanced team. We lost some players on defense and have a new staff. Conversely, we have the whole offense back. There’s a comfort level in what we’re doing that we haven’t had in the past.”

Wake Forest will hold its annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 8 at 3 pm at BB&T Field. The Deacons will open the 2017 campaign at home against Presbyterian on August 31.


What to Read Next