No. 11 FSU to put pressure on Wake Forest offensive line
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) No matter which quarterback plays for Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons have to do a better job of protecting him.
They have allowed 15 sacks - the most in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Indiana had six against them last week.
Now comes an even bigger challenge: No. 11 Florida State and its improved pass rush.
Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1) starts two redshirt freshmen on the offensive line with two more on the depth chart.
They'll get a test from the Seminoles (3-0, 1-0), who already have six sacks in three games after finishing 2014 with an ACC-fewest 17 sacks.
Offensive tackle Justin Herron - one of those redshirt freshman starters - said Tuesday that ''you can't lose your technique when you're playing against athletic and fast defensive ends.''
Florida State defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample was complimentary of the Wake Forest line, calling it ''stout'' but adding that ''we're going to be attacking the front just like we do every single week.''
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said that ''when John is healthy, he will be our starting quarterback'' but added that if Wolford is only at 70 or 80 percent, then ''Kendall gives us our best shot to win.''
Wolford injured his ankle in Week 2 at Syracuse, then re-aggravated it two weeks ago at Army. Hinton replaced him at West Point and led the team to a 17-14 win, then made his first start in last week's 31-24 loss to Indiana. The Hoosiers entered that game with three sacks in three games before getting twice as many against Wake Forest.
When the QBs get time, they've done a good job: The Demon Deacons lead the ACC with 300 yards passing per game - mostly thanks to Wolford, who surpassed the 300-yard mark in each of the two full games he played. Meanwhile, Hinton has led the team in rushing in each of the past two weeks.
''I think part of it is John's ability to read coverages quicker - the ball gets out quicker with him,'' Clawson said. ''Our rushing totals are up. ... Some of that is by design, and some of that is Kendall's creativity.''
Clawson says the plays aren't necessarily different depending on which quarterback is out there - Wolford is more of a pure passer while Hinton can make things happen with his feet. But some pre-snap checks might differ - an audible to a pass for Wolford, for example, might be a quarterback counter for Hinton.
''The blocking schemes aren't changing,'' Clawson said.
Keeping those QBs upright has been a challenge for the Demon Deacons, who gave up 48 sacks - the most in the FBS - during Clawson's first season in 2014. That contributed to their poor rushing numbers last year, with Wake Forest ranking next to last in the FBS in rushing at 39.9 yards per game.
The best way to improve those numbers, Herron said, is to keep the focus on those fundamentals.
''The way you practice is the way you have to play against Florida State,'' Herron said. ''You have to keep the technique.''
Associated Press writer Joe Reedy in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.
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