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Wake Forest Spring Scrimmage, What Did We Learn?

Wake Forest Spring Scrimmage

The Wake Forest Spring scrimmage was not that different than those of many other schools. Little was shown in advance of an offense that we will see in the Fall. Plenty of players saw action. And the coaching staff is going to need time to review the film. The Black team beating the White team 21-13 really doesn’t tell us much in the big picture. So when it comes to the Wake Forest Spring scrimmage, what did we learn?

The first half of the game was two 10-minute long quarters in “thud” format; the play was blown dead at first real contact with no tackling. The second half was two 15-minute quarters with a running clock and full contact. There also was a larger number of reserves playing in the second half.

The Learning Curve

We learned that while transfer Hank Bachmeier is the presumed leader for the starting quarterback spot, head coach Dave Clawson will not commit to that any time soon. The sixth-year player had spurts of looking like the future of the team mixed in with spurts of looking rather pedestrian.

He finished the game 24 of 40 passing for 310 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the White team. Clawson said after the game that he was impressed with Bachmeier’s learning curve, having been at Wake for only four months. “For Hank to get here in January to get to where he is, I’m shocked,” Clawson explained. He said the performance bar is set by John Wolford and Sam Hartman. But he acknowledged that those two had been in the system for several years when they made their marks. Clawson said Bachmeier is well on his way. “He is smart. He’s intentional. He can pick things up quickly. And he has great relationships.”

With Michael Kern out of the scrimmage with a hand injury that he suffered weeks ago, true freshman Jeremy Hecklinski led the Black team. He finished with 12 of 21 passing numbers for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Clawson complimented Hecklinski on his creativity and his ability to make plays happen when things break down around him.

A Steeper Learning Curve

If there is an issue from Saturday it was the play of the defensive secondary for both squads. “I think the area right now where we have to make the greatest stride is probably the secondary.” Clawson commented on some of the big play scores from the two offenses, but then added it is a concern as to how they came to be in the first place. “It’s great to see Hank hit Horatio [Fields] on a post route early for a touchdown. And then, because you get to look at replay, you’re watching the thing on the sideline, you’re saying, ‘How did the corner let the guy inside so easily?’”

He said that as camp came to an end Saturday he felt like the team improved in 14 of the 15 practices. The one questionable practice was back in the third week for anyone wondering.

Part of what Clawson was pleased with was the high number of early enrollees participating in Spring camp. The Demon Deacons had 116 roster players for the last five weeks, including scholarship players and walk-ons. It all formulated into the changes that took place in camp with running live scrimmages on two fields simultaneously. Between having so many players in camp, and the memories of too many players being ill-prepared last year when their number was called, Clawson said he was happy with the system changes that were put into place.

The Numbers

Fourteen of the 21 high school signees were early enrollees along with five transfer portal pickups. “I think our midyear freshmen handled that transition better than any group we have ever had.” Clawson said they are further along than any other freshman group he has had, in large part because of the extra reps they were getting at practice in the Spring. “I’m kicking myself that I haven’t done that before,” he said. “But at the same time, we’ve never had the numbers to do that before.”

A key to the scrimmage was trying to leave the field with everyone staying upright as they departed. The team was thin at running back during camp. David Egbe and Tate Carney missed time with injuries, leaving Demond Claiborne as the primary ball carrier in a system that has relied on rotating players in recent years.

Clairborne saw limited action Saturday in an effort to keep him healthy. He had five carries for 15 yards for the White team. Zach Igwebe added 33 yards on 10 carries. For the Black team, Mason Andrade showed out well 43 yards on 15 carries. He added two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown.

The Portal

Now that Spring is over, there is no rest for the staff. There are another eight days of the current transfer portal window being open. With 116 players on the current roster, there really is no room to add. Any portal shopping that gets done by Clawson will be because one of those 116 chooses to go elsewhere.

Clawson said between now and the end of the week, the staff will have met with every player on the team. He said those conversations started in the last week of camp. The goal is to give the players feedback on where they are in the pecking order at their position and gauge where their mindset is with regard to staying at Wake.

He answered with great certainty when asked why the program is now having greater success than in the past when it comes to roster gains and retention. “A collective.” He added that there have always been players who were happy at Wake, but that, “In college football in 2024, if you don’t have a healthy collective, you’re not going to be competitive.”


Main Image courtesy: Tony Siracusa 


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