Syracuse is set up for an exciting matchup this weekend. Nineteenth-ranked Wake Forest (5-0, 3-0 ACC), the only remaining ACC undefeated, comes to the Dome on parents’ weekend. It’s a nationally televised game, the Loud House should be packed and hopefully all of the 315 is ready to support Dino Babers and crew. However, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Orange.
The Demon Deacons feature one of the most balanced offenses in the country. Wake puts up 186 rushing yards and 259 passing yards per game. Even more importantly, the Deacs excel against SU, averaging 39 points and over 400 yards of offense over the last four contests. Dave Clawson’s offense has plenty of weapons returning from last year’s 38-14 beatdown.
Quarterback Sam Hartman is a sophomore in his fourth year with the program (a Maxwell Award nominee, along with Sean Tucker) and knows the scheme inside and out. Last year, the Charlotte native barely had to break a sweat, throwing for 250 passing yards and a TD while running backs Kenneth Walker III and Christian Beal-Smith churned through the Orange front for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Walker is gone (now leading the nation in rushing yards at Michigan State), but Beal-Smith returns and freshman Justice Ellison has emerged as the second of the usual Wake two-headed monster.
On the outside, Jaquarii Roberson is looking to repeat his seven-catch, 130 yard performance against Syracuse from last season, and has help waiting in the wings from youngsters AT Perry and Taylor Morin. This team is loaded with talent on the offensive end, and while yes, Syracuse’s defense is much improved, nobody is certain that Tony White’s unit can hang with the Wake offense for four quarters.
So the key? Limit the time Wake’s offense has the ball. Wake has won shootout after shootout after shootout, scoring 30+ points against all three ACC foes it’s faced. However, the Demon Deacons have a negative time of possession differential, meaning on average, opponents have had the ball more than them. If SU can run the ball with Tucker and Garrett Shrader, and peace-meal drives together, the Orange should have a solid chance for an upset in the fourth quarter.