Boston College 2019 Opponent Previews: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
During the summer months and as we prepare for the upcoming season, BC Maven will be doing weekly previews of all of Boston College's opponents. After a pair of games against two underwhelming Power 5 teams, BC's schedule kicks back into gear into a game that could truly be a toss up game, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. WF was a team that last year started off slow, but really kicked it into gear by the end of the year. They have become a darling of many preseason polls, and could be a sneaky good challenge for the Eagles.
Previous Previews: Week 1 Against Virginia Tech
Previous Matchups: Boston College and Wake Forest have played 26 times in their school histories, dating back to 1941 when BC led by Denny Myers defeated a Wake Squad led by Pea Head Walker 26-6. Over the previous five games BC and Wake have basically been trading wins with BC winning their last game last year on the arm of Anthony Brown's 5 TDs 41-34.
Head Coach: Dave Clawson, the former head coach of Bowling Green is going into his seventh season with the Demon Deacons where he has built a 28-35. Before his time with the Falcons and WF, Clawson was an OC with Phil Fulmer and Tennessee and he was a head coach at Richmond where he went 29-20. Before that time he was a head coach at Fordham and an assistant at schools like Villanova, Lehigh and Buffalo. In his playing days he was a defensive back at Williams College. Clawson is signed until 2026
2018 Season: It was a rocky beginning of the year for Wake Forest, as presumptive starter Kendall Hinton was suspended for the beginning of the season, and Wake looked pretty pedestrian in their opening win against Tulane, needing overtime to beat the AAC program. After easily taking care of FCSacrifice Towson, they faced off against Boston College and got beat badly through the air by the aforementioned Anthony Brown to the tune of 5 touchdowns. Sam Hartman the starting quarterback looked fine in the first two games, but his struggles against quality opponents really kicked in against BC.
The next big moment for Wake was getting blown out by Notre Dame 51-20, not due to the results, but because they fired defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel after the game. Hartman then had a big game against Rice as the Deacs blew out the hapless Owls, and then got their doors blown off by Clemson 63-3. For the remainder of the season it was grabbing wins with teams they should beat (Louisville, Duke), and losing against teams they were underdogs (Syracuse, Pittsburgh). They did have two quality wins to end the year against NC State who was ranked at the time, and a big time win against Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl. The final four game saw Jamie Newman take over as quarterback, and he was definitely an improvement over Hartman, finishing the year with a 60% completion rate.
The star of the offense was wide receiver Greg Dortch, who decided to test the NFL waters after the year. During the season he was electric, with 89 catches for 1078 yards and 8 touchdowns. However, he was not drafted and signed with the New York Jets as an UDFA.
2019 Outlook: Even though leading wide receivers Greg Dortch and Alex Bachman are graduated and their offensive line is depleted, Wake has a solid foundation which could build to a solid season for Clawson's program. They have a great physical running back, Cade Carney, who gave ran for 1,000 yards and gave BC fits in their matchup. At wide receiver Scotty Washington returns after an injury shelved him in 2018. He is tall (6'5) and is a nightmare matchup for teams with smaller defensive backs, if he can return to his 2017 productivity (43 catches) he could be a major threat.
The biggest question going into this season has to be the quarterback position. Will it be Newman or Hartman? Hartman was only a freshman last year, but looked really overwhelmed against good opponents, but then again that is par for the course at that age. Newman, who looks to be the leader for the starting gig, had a great spring game 15-18 for 254 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Wake has possibly the best defensive end in the conference against the run in Carlos Basham Jr. But against the pass they sorely lack, as they really struggled to get to the quarterback last season. They were 76th in the country last year, and their leading pass rusher and third rated pass rusher both have graduated. This could be a major problem for the Deacs if they can't address this. Wake had two graduations in the secondary, but have some solid physical defensive backs in Luke Masterson and Travel Redd who can really play.
BC Game Date: Saturday September 28, 2019
Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
Chances of BC Victory: 60%.
S&P Chances of BC Victory: 50%