Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

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

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Page 36 of 55 SEPT. 24, 2018 37 NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. WAKE FOREST PASS DEFENSE Notre Dame displayed an explosive aerial attack early in the 2018 season, ranking 12th in the coun- try at 16.1 yards per completion in two games. The team's 8.8 yards per attempt — if it continues — would be its best mark during Kelly's tenure. Wimbush is pushing the ball down the field at a much greater rate than in 2017. After completing just 22 passes beyond 20 yards in 2017, he has already hit eight such passes through two games in 2018, putting him on pace for 48 completions that travel beyond 20 yards from the line of scrimmage in the regular season. The senior signal-caller needs to improve his decision making after tossing four interceptions in the first two games, but his completion rate is up from a season ago despite throwing so many more deep balls. Wake Forest gave up 313.0 passing yards per game in its first two contests and has picked off just one pass, but the Deacons have registered eight sacks, nine hurries and 13 passes broken up. On paper, this would seem like a matchup where Notre Dame can find a great deal of success, as- suming its line can give Wimbush the time he needs to get the ball down the field. Advantage: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS The Deacons dipped on special teams last sea- son, ranking 91st in the country in efficiency ac- cording to the Fremeau Efficiency Index. In the first three seasons of head coach Dave Clawson's tenure in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wake Forest ranked well from No. 23 to No. 33 in special teams efficiency. Through two games in 2018 the Deacons seem to be back on track when it comes to playing strong special teams. Dortch returned two punts for touchdowns in Wake's 51-20 win over Towson Sept. 8, and possesses an impressive career mark of 12.7 yards per return on his 25 career fielded punts. Notre Dame's special teams ranked No. 19 na- tionally in 2015, No. 53 in 2014, No. 61 in 2017 and No. 81 in 2016. Through two games this sea- son, the Irish have once again been erratic on special teams, giving up a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown in the opener against Michigan and providing the Wolverines a short field after a 25- yard punt. Usually steady senior kicker Justin Yoon missed a field goal against Ball State, and two of Notre Dame's 10 kickoffs to start the season have gone out of bounds. Advantage: Wake Forest COACHING Clawson has earned his reputation as a program builder. Wake Forest is his fourth stop as a head coach, and at each of his previous three stops, he has won a conference championship by his fifth season. Winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title in his fifth season at Wake Forest is not expected, but Clawson does have the Deacons on the verge of become a program that can compete with and beat most teams in the league. Wake Forest was riding a streak of five straight seasons with a losing record when Clawson was hired, and he ended that streak in his third year (7-6 in 2016). Last season, he led the Deacons to an 8-5 record that was highlighted by a November win over North Carolina State and a bowl victory versus Texas A&M. Kelly had Notre Dame playing for a national title by his third season in South Bend, and the Irish have had double digit win totals in two of his last three seasons. In eighteen seasons as a head coach at the Foot- ball Championship Subdivision and Football Bowl Subdivision levels, Clawson has had three seasons with at least 10 wins. In 14 seasons at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, Kelly has led teams to at least 10 wins six times. Advantage: Notre Dame INTANGIBLES Since beating Florida State at BB&T Field on Oct. 8, 2011, the Deacons lost 16 straight games to ranked opponents before topping Temple in the 2016 Military Bowl. The Deacons beat then 19th- ranked North Carolina State at home last season, giving it a pair of wins over ranked opponents dur- ing the last two campaigns. Those victories are sure-fire signs of improve- ment for Wake Forest, but the Deacons are still just 2-5 against ranked foes the last two seasons, and all five losses have been by at least 11 points. Wake Forest still has to prove it can go toe to toe and actually beat a program like Notre Dame, but the Deacons did go 4-1 at home in 2017. From 2014-16, the Fighting Irish went just 3-8 in true road games against Power Five opponents, so there is something to prove for Notre Dame as well in this matchup. Even in a road win over Virginia in 2015 the Irish struggled, needing a fourth-quarter comeback to pull out that victory over a Cavalier program that went just 4-8 that season. Advantage: Even GAME PREVIEW: WAKE FOREST Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. WR 14 Sage Surratt 6-3 215 R-Fr. 80 Waydale Jones 6-4 195 R-Fr. WR 3 Greg Dortch 5-9 170 R-So. 82 Jaquarii Roberson 6-1 180 R-Fr. LT 73 Jake Benzinger 6-7 295 R-Jr. 63 Je'Vionté Nash 6-3 285 R-So. LG 74 Phil Haynes 6-4 310 5th-Sr. 79 Sean Maginn 6-3 280 So. C 70 Ryan Anderson 6-6 305 5th-Sr. 65 Zach Tom 6-4 280 R-Fr. RG 68 Patrick Osterhage 6-4 285 5th-Sr. 59 Loic Ngassam Nya 6-3 290 R-Fr. RT 71 Nathan Gilliam 6-5 290 R-Jr. 76 Allan Rappleyea 6-5 285 R-Fr. TE 86 Jack Freudenthal 6-3 240 R-Jr. 23 Brandon Chapman 6-5 255 R-So. WR 1 Alex Bachman 6-0 190 Sr. 88 Steven Claude 6-2 195 R-Jr. QB 10 Sam Hartman 6-1 190 Fr. or 2 Kendall Hinton 6-0 195 R-Jr. 12 Jamie Newman 6-4 230 R-So. RB 22 Matt Colburn II 5-10 200 Sr. 36 Cade Carney 5-11 215 Jr. 26 Christian Beal-Smith 5-10 190 R-Fr. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. DE 18 Carlos Basham Jr. 6-5 270 R-So. 72 Tyler Williams 6-1 300 R-Fr. DT 93 Zeek Rodney 6-1 300 5th-Sr. 90 Sulaiman Kamara 6-2 290 R-So. DT 48 Willie Yarbary 6-2 285 5th-Sr. 53 Dion Bergan 6-1 280 Fr. DE 6 Chris Calhoun 6-4 250 Sr. 94 Manny Walker 6-4 245 R-So. BUCK 23 Justin Strnad 6-3 230 R-Jr. 15 Jake Simpson 6-0 220 So. or 35 Nate Mays 6-1 230 R-Jr. MIKE 46 DJ Taylor 6-1 235 So. 45 Ryan Smenda Jr. 6-2 230 Fr. ROV 34 Demetrius Kemp 6-1 230 5th-Sr. 30 Ja'Cquez Williams 6-2 210 R-So. CB 4 Amari Henderson 6-1 180 R-Jr. or 24 Ja'Sir Taylor 5-10 190 So. FS 2 Cameron Glenn 6-1 205 5th-Sr. 17 Traveon Redd 6-0 200 R-So. SS 9 Chuck Wade Jr. 6-0 205 Sr. 27 Tyriq Hardimon 6-0 195 R-Fr. CB 21 Essang Bassey 5-10 190 Jr. 13 Malik Grate 6-0 180 R-So. WAKE FOREST DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PK 96 Nick Sciba 5-9 185 Fr. 88 Zach Murphy 6-0 185 R-Fr. KO 48 Eric Osteen 6-1 190 Gr. 11 Darren Ford 6-2 200 Gr. P 8 Dom Maggio 6-3 185 Jr. 88 Zach Murphy 6-0 185 R-Fr. H 48 Dom Maggio 6-3 185 So. 25 James Sriraman 6-3 200 R-Jr. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PR 3 Greg Dortch 5-9 170 R-So. 1 Alex Bachman 6-0 190 Sr. KR 3 Greg Dortch 5-9 170 R-So. 1 Alex Bachman 6-0 190 Sr. LS 52 Dayton Diemel 5-10 225 Jr. 61 Noah Turner 6-0 240 Fr. Special Teams

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