Wake Forest will look to take the next step forward and set the table for a successful Atlantic Coast Conference campaign when its battles Old Dominion in the two teams’ season opener on Friday evening in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The Demon Deacons were 4-5 in 2020 and played in a bowl game for the fifth straight year, losing to Wisconsin in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Wake Forest returns all 11 starters on offense and nine on defense and should be one of the deepest teams in the nation.
How that translates to the field will be up to coach Dave Clawson, who begins his eighth season at the Demon Deacons’ helm. Wake Forest has adopted the motto, “Good to Great” for the upcoming season.
“Every team’s different, every team’s unique, every team takes on their own personality,” Clawson said. “But I think in camp, one of our goals was to forge a mental toughness and a grit.
“…It’s really good that our program is now one that expects to be in a bowl. Taking that next step in our league is difficult. But we think we have a group this year that’s capable of doing that.”
Wake Forest has set or tied more than 300 school offensive records over the past four seasons, including marks for points scored, points per game, total offensive yards, first downs and passing yards. The Demon Deacons’ offense will be triggered this year by sophomore Sam Hartman, who passed for 2,224 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games in 2020.
Old Dominion, which plays in Conference USA, opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19. It was the only C-USA team not to take the field last year. On Friday, the Monarchs will be playing their first game since losing their final contest of the 2019 campaign to Charlotte on Nov. 30, a span of 644 days.
Since that loss, Old Dominion hired former Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne as their head coach. Old Dominion was 1-11 in 2019 and hasn’t won a game against a FBS team since beating North Texas on Nov. 10, 2018.
Rahne said last week that his team “is hungry and is ready to go.”
“This is a team that has taken to coaching and is focused on the fundamentals,” Rahne explained. “A team that’s very fast and plays very physical. They will run and they will hit. We’ll live on those two things.”
There are 43 freshmen or redshirt freshmen on the Monarchs’ 88-man roster, so patience in the process and what Rahne is preaching is a must.
–Field Level Media