Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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32 SEPT. 24, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY COREY BODDEN D uring Notre Dame's 8‑1 start in 2017, the Fighting Irish had to hold off a game Wake Forest squad that put up 587 yards of total offense in a 48‑37 shoot‑ out in South Bend last November. Senior quarterback John Wolford threw for 331 yards in the loss for the Demon Deacons, giving the Irish faithful a scare. Wolford has moved on, but his former teammates are ex‑ pected to provide another stiff chal‑ lenge when Notre Dame travels to Winston‑Salem, N.C., for its first road game of the 2018 campaign Sept. 22. True road openers versus the ACC have not been easy for the Irish. They fell to Florida State 31‑27 after hav‑ ing a late touchdown wiped out by a controversial offensive pass inter‑ ference penalty in 2014, and lost to North Carolina State 10‑3 in abys‑ mal conditions created by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Notre Dame also needed an 11th‑ hour touchdown toss from its backup quarterback (then unproven and in‑ experienced second‑year DeShone Kizer) to defeat heavy underdog Virginia 34‑27 in 2015 before finally cruising past Boston College 49‑20 in 2017. Dave Clawson, who guided Wake Forest to its second straight winning season in 2017, returned eight start‑ ers from an offense that ranked 17th nationally in total yards per game (465.8) and 21st in points per game (35.3). The returning group featured all five starting offensive linemen, the team's top rusher and its top two receivers in terms of yardage. Then the injury bug and other is‑ sues found the team. Projected start‑ ing quarterback Kendall Hinton was suspended for the first three games of the year due to a violation of team rules, leaving the job to true fresh‑ man Sam Hartman. Then fifth‑year senior left tackle Justin Herron, who entered the year with 37 career starts at left tackle, tore his ACL in the season opener against Tulane. Sophomore reserve safety Coby Davis also went down with an ACL injury in week one. In total, through two weeks, seven play‑ ers were lost off the Demon Deacons depth chart because of knee injuries. Despite the injury setbacks, Claw‑ son's team still figures to give the Irish all they can handle while at‑ tempting to get their first victory against them in the fifth meeting be‑ tween the two programs. With Hinton returning from sus‑ pension, the quarterback situation will likely dominate the headlines heading into the matchup. Hinton was deemed the starter heading into GAME PREVIEW: WAKE FOREST UPSET MINDED The Demon Deacons are aiming for their first win over the Fighting Irish Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Greg Dortch led the nation in all-purpose yards per game (255.0) through two weeks. He hauled in 19 receptions for 243 yards and a score, and also returned two punts for touchdowns. PHOTO COURTESY WAKE FOREST

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