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Wake Forest Has a Daunting Task

Wake Forest has a daunting task ahead

Ok, well that was fun last weekend. And this week? Maybe not so much. Wake Forest has a daunting task ahead as the Demon Deacons prepare to face the #4 team in the country, the Florida State Seminoles.

Think it isn’t a tough uphill climb? At his post-game press conference Saturday, Wake head coach Dave Clawson said the last-second win was going to allow him to be in a good mood as he enjoyed time with family and friends that were there. Then he would get back to the film work on Sunday, From there he would go over details with the players of assignments and schemes missed. And then by the usual meeting time with the media, “…you guys will ask me how are we ever going to stop Florida State from scoring 80 points.”


So the follow-up was too obvious on Tuesday. Yes, he enjoyed his time Saturday night, (correcting the questioner that he stayed home and did not go out). He did start the film analysis on Sunday and has gone over it with the players. As for the media asking him how to stop FSU from scoring 80 points? “They are what we thought they’d be,” he said about his film analysis. “They’re really good. They’re really well-coached. They are physical. They don’t beat themselves.”

Want more evidence on what the expectations are for this game? Clawson spent a little more than seven minutes in his opening statement Tuesday discussing every detail of Florida State’s team all the way down to the placekicker. And that was before he was even asked any specific questions about the game. Seminoles’ coach Mike Norvell had two minutes of the standard opposing coach’s complimentary comments at his weekly press conference. He was asked zero questions by the local media about Wake Forest.

The Recognizable Florida State

There were periods of fan base impatience with Norvell after he came to Tallahassee from Memphis for the 2020 season. There is no such cringing now. The Seminoles are 24th in the country in total offense, averaging 445 yards per game. They are however 51st in the nation on defense giving up 350 yards per game and an average of a little over five yards per play. So they are not perfect. They just look close to it.

“This looks like the Florida State of old,” Clawson said Tuesday. “Explosive on offense. Stout and they’ve got dynamic playmakers on defense.” He added, “What happens is if you have really good talent that’s really extremely well coached you have great football seasons, and that’s where they are.”

Norvell has hit the blend of utilizing the transfer portal along with traditional recruiting. FSU had a top 20 recruiting class for each of the last two seasons, plus the sixth-ranked portal class for this season.

“I knew when they hired him [Norvell] they were going to get back,” Clawson told the media. “I don’t know if anybody in the ACC has done a better job of embracing and maximizing what college football looks like in 2023. And I mean that as nothing but a compliment to Mike.”

The FSU Offense

Clawson said he did not know how Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis was not getting more attention nationally in the Heisman conversation. The sixth-year quarterback, (fifth year at FSU), is throwing at a 65% completion rate with 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions. “They make so many big plays because his field vision is so good,” Clawson said of Travis.

Part of what makes his job a little easier is having one of the most physical wide receiver groups in the country. By now, everyone knows about Keon Coleman. “I’ve been here 10 years. And in my 10 years in the ACC, Keon Coleman is as good as any receiver we’ve faced,” Clawson said of the 6-4, 215-pound wideout. His size, and the size of the entire receiving corps is a big part of the storyline for Saturday. Johnny Wilson is 6-7, 237 pounds. The Seminoles could be getting Deuce Spann back this week, after missing three weeks with an injury. That would add 6-4, 195 pounds to cover. And all of them block well on the edge.

Clawson said when the receiver room is as deep as it is at FSU, the fundamentals come through. “When you have that many good receivers and your practices are that competitive, I’m sure they have to block, or they don’t play.”

The Afterglow from Saturday

The shine is not off Saturday’s win. But there is also a pragmatic sense about it. If Pitt quarterback Christian Veilleux does a better job with his protective slide at the end of the game, the conversation would likely be a lot different. “It’s a very fine line and we were fortunate to be on the right side of it,” Clawson said Tuesday. “I’ve been on the wrong side of it enough times in my career so I don’t feel guilty at all.”

As expected Clawson gave no indication as to the status of quarterback Mitch Griffis for this week’s game. Griffis sat out last week with a variety of physical issues, having taken a beating for a few games in a row. Santino Marucci is also getting first-team snaps again this week.

Sounds Too Familiar

The Michigan football program is embroiled in yet another NCAA kerfuffle under head coach Jim Harbaugh. This time it is signal stealing and the use of ill-gotten information. Michigan staffer Connor Stalions is being accused of purchasing tickets to more than 30 non-Michigan, Big 10 football games. He then allegedly dispersed those tickets to others who recorded the signs/signals being sent in from the coaches on the sidelines. He then shared those videos with the Michigan coaching staff.

Stalions is a former Naval Academy Midshipman who went on to the Marines as an intelligence analyst. There is a newly surfaced video of him on the sidelines with the defensive staff during last year’s Ohio State game, (against NCAA rules for an analyst to be on the sidelines during a game).

The scenario of inside information theft hits a little too close to home for Clawson. The scenarios may be a little different. Stalions is working for the advantage of his program, while Clawson was betrayed from within by Tommy Elrod and the WakeyLeaks scandal. But the end result feels the same to Clawson.

The Results

“If that really happened, I’m sure all of their opponents feel really, really violated and cheated,” Clawson said when asked about the comparative circumstances Tuesday. “As a victim of that for three years, when we found out about it, how violated we felt, how cheated we felt. It was really painful and really hurtful.”

Will the punishment fit the crime? Clawson still harbors resentment that none of the schools that took the inside information from Elrod ever had any consequences. “I wonder why it wasn’t a bigger deal when it happened to us. Is it a big deal because it’s Michigan and they’re ranked number two in the country?”

Clawson pointed out that defenses knowing what plays an offense is going to run puts the health of players at risk.


Wake Forest has a daunting task ahead
Photo courtesy: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports




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