There’s a gunslinger who conducts business just down the road to the west of here, in a town called Winston-Salem. His name is Jamie Newman, he’s the starting quarterback for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and he’s someone the Tar Heel faithful should be aware of.
Newman entered the picture through a bit of bad luck. His predecessor, Sam Hartman, broke his leg during last year’s game against Syracuse, and Newman was pressed into service as Wake Forest’s quarterback for the final four games of the season. His first start, on the road against a 14th-ranked NC State team, ended with a game-winning two-minute drill. Newman completed 22 of 33 passing attempts for 297 yards and three touchdowns in the contest, picking apart the Wolfpack defense en route to a 27-23 victory.
By the time the dust settled at the end of the 2018 season, Newman held a 3-1 record as a starter, including a bowl win over a solid Memphis team with a high-powered offense. The Wake Forest quarterback finished the 2018 season with more than 1,000 yards passing in just four games. This season, he seems to be picking up where he left off; through two games, Newman has completed 55 of his 74 passing attempts for 713 yards, with six touchdowns and no interceptions. That passing yardage total is good enough for seventh in the country through Week 2, and the six quarterbacks that precede him on the list have all thrown at least one pick. This gunslinger, the one I mentioned before, is accurate.
Some of this may be due to the opponents that Wake Forest has faced thus far. Utah State, the Demon Deacons’ Week 1 opponent, was ranked in the Top 25 last season but lost a number of players to the slow march of time as they graduated and moved on; Newman was 34 of 47 for 401 yards and three touchdowns in this game. Rice, the team that Wake Forest visited in Week 2, was overmatched almost from the beginning; Newman was 21 for 27 for 312 yards and three touchdowns in this contest. The Demon Deacons will soon begin to face stiffer competition, and time will tell if the Wake Forest quarterback will continue to put up such gaudy numbers. It is, after all, a small sample size.
Physically, he stands six-foot-four from the ground, slightly taller in his black hat, and tips the scales at 230 pounds. As good as he is through the air, he’s also a threat with his legs. In the four games he started in the 2018 season, he rushed for 247 yards and four touchdowns. The Wake Forest quarterback doesn’t have pull-away speed, but he is big and unafraid of contact, and designed runs for him can begin to wear a defense down over time. The ground game is an added dimension of the Wake Forest offense that has quietly been putting up big-time numbers with Newman at the helm.
There’s another gunslinger that I know of, though. You’ll know this one by the white hat he wears, and the youthful energy that surrounds him. This gunslinger conducts his business here in Chapel Hill, and his name is Sam Howell. Through the first two weeks of the 2019 season, Jamie Newman is 15th nationally in passing efficiency; Howell is 14th. Newman is 40th in yards per completion; Howell is 9th. Both quarterbacks have a small sample size, but both have displayed remarkable skill and poise in their first starts for their respective teams. Howell was the ACC quarterback of the week after the Tar Heels defeated Miami at home, and has the edge in quality wins in the 2019 season. Newman has put up impressive numbers through the first two weeks of the season; something the Tar Heels will be itching to put a stop to.
The two quarterbacks will duel at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem on Friday evening. Only one will remain unbeaten.