In approximately 24 hours, UNC takes on the Demon Deacons in a non-conference game against an ACC opponent. Read that sentence again. Digest it. It is not a typo. Moving on.
To give some insight on Wake Forest, who own a 2-0 record with wins against Utah State and Rice, we asked our fellow SBN site to answer a few questions. Cameron Debrow of Blogger So Dear took some time and give his thoughts on this clash of in-state rivals*. We also had some fun at NC State’s expense. I did the same, and you can catch my responses here.
*(As much as rivals can be rivals when they are only slated to play each other once every seven years in the ACC rotation).
1) What are your thoughts on this not being a conference game?
If the teams weren’t on the trajectories they were now I’d be livid. There’s just too much history, high school rivalries, family rivalries even, for the North Carolina schools to not play each other every year. But at least this year there’s a lot riding on this game.
2) What’s surprised you the most about Wake Forest through 2 games?
I was going to say health but that seems like a jinx waiting to happen. I’d say just how well the Offensive Live has played. I’ve loved the recruiting and the play the last two years but when you graduate people like Ryan Anderson and Phil Haynes you’d expect a decent fall off. While there has been some regression, for the most part they have protected Jamie Newman very, very well and opened holes for the running backs.
3) Who do you look for to make an impact in this game on each side of the ball?
It’s hard to not say Jamie Newman offensively so I’ll go with Cade Carney and Sage Surratt offensively. With UNC losing their best CB, the height and skill gap increases and well Wake isn’t short on tall, talented receivers. Between Sage and possibly Scotty Washington, I expect them to have a field day. Against UNC, teams are averaging 4.5 YPA. A healthy Cade Carney is really freaking good and I expect him to come into this game with a vengeance and keep on running.
Defensively it starts and ends with Carlos “Boogie” Basham. He is the heart of the defensive line and the best pass rusher on the team. With the loss of a starting Center, I look for Wake to try to make the Freshman QB’s life a mess on Friday night. With the theme of 2, I gotta go with Amari Henderson. There’s been a lot of buzz about DB Essang Bassey, but the guy on the other side plays just as big of a role. With QBs refusing to throw on Bassey’s side, if Amari can hold his own then the defense will be looking good.
If not, well then, it may be a long night.
4) What’s Wake’s biggest weakness and strength?
Passing game has to be the biggest strength, full stop. Jamie Newman has played as well as anyone over the last 5 games(dating back to his first and very memorable start against NC State.) Even with losing Greg Dortch and Alex Bachman to the NFL, the receivers haven’t missed a beat and have even gotten deeper. They just continue to be a problem for defense and I don’t see that stopping any time soon.
On the other end, defending the pass and it’s a two part problem. While Boogie is great, the rest of the line doesn’t have that much experience. They’ve lacked the ability to get to the QB except on what would be deemed “obvious passing downs” and with that if you leave receivers out there long enough either the QB makes a play or someone just gets open. That’s got to change if Wake wants to make this season as special as it can be.
5) The last two seasons, Wake has done a great job of ruining NC State’s seasons. Why? And will you do it again this year?
It has happened in literally every sport and I love it. It’s where the legend of Jamie Newman began last year. I wish I had a reason besides “because lolz NC State” but lolz NC State. I think it happens again this year. I think they have really good pieces but I want to see a bit more out of the QB and I’d really like to see more out of the WRs(or lack thereof.)
6) What were your/fans expectations for this year? As a fan base, is 6-8 wins good enough to keep Clawson around for 10 years, or will you eventually want more?
Eventually everyone wants more. But there isn’t much more Wake fans could want to get tired of Clawson. If they become a perennial 8-4 team with upside of 10 then that’s a massive win for the smallest P5 school. Clawson has done a phenomenal job and I can’t wait to see how this program continues to grow.
In terms of this year it was really around 7-8 wins where people landed it felt. Pick up wins in the first 4, beat Louisville and Duke, and then pick 1 or 2 out of FSU/Cuse/NC State/BC. In terms of what it is now? If they can stay healthy and not shoot themselves in the foot, why don’t they beat FSU and Cuse who have looked so bad this year? Why don’t they beat State again?
7) Wake wins if....?
They run their offense like they have been so far and wear out a defense that honestly doesn’t have a lot of depth. The defense forces Howell to be uncomfortable, whether that is through turnovers or just simply getting to the QB and getting him off rhythm.
8) Wake loses if....?
They can’t run the ball and allow Howell to just have time to cook, do laundry and read a book waiting for his receivers to get over.
9) Who scares you the most about UNC?
Javonte Williams is a stud. While Howell is the easy answer, I’m all in on Williams and if he has a field day it could be a very long day for the Deacs.
10) Lastly, who wins, why, and score?
We have two QBs that have shown to have ice in their veins lately. I got to go with the HFA here and the experience with Jamie Newman and the Deacs. I’m full on board that Cade Carney and one out of Surratt and Washington get theirs on Friday night while for 3 quarters UNC hangs tough but can’t get it done in the end.
Wake 38 UNC 31