banner
Caulton Tudor

Clawson faces challenges, but Wake personnel tank isn't empy

Posted July 31

Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson at the ACC Kickoff on Monday.

One of the ranking misconceptions entering this ACC football season is Jim Grobe left the personnel closet bare when he resigned at Wake Forest after the 2013 season.

If leaving behind 54 lettermen, 12 starters and an intact kicking game equates to an empty cupboard, a lot of coaches would like to have the same “problem.”

The truth is, Dave Clawson is taking over a program that’s infinitely better positioned to succeed fairly fast than was the case when Grobe arrived from Ohio after the 2000 season. That team – Jim Caldwell’s last – went 2-9 overall, 1-8 in the ACC and failed to score more than 14 points in seven games.

When Grobe’s 2001 team went 6-5 overall, 3-5 in the league and averaged 27 points per game, it was clear Wake football had elevated its ceiling far more than anyone expected.

Clawson, whose 2013 Bowling Green team went 10-3, has his challenges, of course.

Although Tyler Cameron played a few snaps in relief of Tanner Price last season, there’s virtually no quarterback experience – a situation complicated by the fact that the offensive staff apparently will give three other candidates in addition to Cameron a shot at the starting job in preseason camp.

One of the school’s all-time best pass receivers, Mike Campanaro, has to be replaced, and the entire ground game needs reconstruction.

But as junior cornerback Kevin Johnson pointed out at last week’s ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, last season’s 4-8 (2-6 ACC) team was hardly a punching bag.

“We had a lot of adversity but we never gave up on ourselves,” Johnson said.

In fact, the Deacons would have been bowl eligible with a little better execution in the final two games – a 28-21 loss to Duke (10-4 final record) and a 23-21 loss at Vanderbilt (9-4).

The ’13 season – and maybe Grobe’s future – turned on a 24-21 loss at Miami on Oct. 26. The Hurricanes, ranked 7th nationally at the time, scored with 53 seconds left to escape.

“We just weren’t the same team after that,” Grobe said when he stepped down. “But you can always look back and say ‘What if?’”

If the offense can be retooled in time, there’s no reason to believe Clawson’s first season will be the wipeout widely expected. In the ACC preseason media poll, the Deacons were such an overwhelming pick to be the league’s weakest team that it seemed odd. Not only were they picked for last place in the Atlantic Division, they received almost 200 fewer overall voting points than No. 6 pick Boston College.

On paper, the situation isn’t nearly that bleak. And the fact that Clawson, 46, arrives with a reputation for fixing offenses should help.

But first, Clawson and his staff have to sort through the league’s foggiest quarterback mix. Cameron a 6-foot-3, 200-pound redshirt sophomore, and Kevin Sousa (6-3, 200, R-Jr.) were expected to settle the starting issue in the spring. That didn’t happen, and now Clawson says true freshmen Travis Smith (6-1, 200) and John Wolford (6-1, 205) will get a look. 

Cameron, Sousa and Wolford are Floridians, and Wolford broke Tim Tebow’s state high school record for career touchdown passes with 126.

Smith, from Ithaca, Mich., also holds his career TD passing state record with 106. Clawson stopped short of calling the quarterback free-for-all disappointing, but it’s obvious he’s looking for some sort of stability as fast as possible.

“It's a battle,” he said. “As we went through spring practice, the two guys competing for it, neither of them played at a level to secure the job … it's going to start out as a four-way battle. At some point we'll get it to three, then to two, and we'll have a starting quarterback game one, but that is obviously a big question mark going into camp, and I'm more anxious to see how that plays than anyone.”

In the April 26 spring game, Sousa passed for 178 yards and completed 16 of 32 passes. Cameron completed only 9 of 26 for 83 yards.

But if the right quarterback is found, the air game should be above average at worst. Even without Campanaro, there’s a lot of talent and experience among the wide-outs, including transfer EJ Scott, who played regularly at Virginia last season. The interior line has three all-star candidates in center Cory Helms, guard Dylan Intemann (Wake Forest-Rolesville High) and tackle Tyler Hayworth.

“I was excited when I got this job,” Clawson said. “But I’m more excited now.”

3 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Doc Holliday Aug 1, 6:44 a.m.

    Good luck to WF & their new coach...hope it works out for the Deacons.

  • PackCityyyyy Jul 31, 2:18 p.m.

    Good grammar. Let me guess, you graduated from Kerliner?

  • doser Jul 31, 10:46 a.m.

    At least they will one league game they will beat State!

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tonight at 11:35 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:58 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Mississippi State at Ole Miss

    Tomorrow at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at Baltimore

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
3rd
PIT 2
CAR 3
 
4th
CHA 101
GSW 105
 
2nd
UF 35
UNC 43
 
1st
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
4th
CHA 101
GSW 105
 
3rd
TOR 52
DAL 66
 
4th
DET 72
MIL 85
 
4th
ATL 72
NOP 60
 
Half
HOU 44
LAC 56
 
Half
OKC 59
NYK 33
 
Half
IND 47
ORL 45
 
2nd
SAN 41
SAC 36
 
1st
DEN 15
PHO 7
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MIN
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
2nd
VT 10
UVA 6
 
1st
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 59
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
Final
FSU 58
CSOU 47
 
Final
VALPO 66
DRAK 46
Final
CIN 69
MTST 51
Final
SDU 75
PRIN 65
Final
WASU 76
RICE 74
 
Final
CSFU 64
USCU 79
 
Final
GT 61
RIDE 54
 
Final
TXPA 79
ALAST 91
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
Final
TCU 57
BRAD 49
 
Final
WAKE 65
DELST 72
 
Final
HART 83
EMERSON 50
 
Final
STJ 66
GONZ 73
 
Final
CLEM 62
HIGH 59
 
Final
SYR 72
HC 48
 
Final
MD 61
MON 56
 
Final
JVST 74
SAV 71
 
Final
MIAMI 87
SALA 75
 
Final
RUTG 68
VANDY 65
 
2nd
PETE 55
TENST 54
 
2nd
MARS 32
CLST 43
 
2nd
JST 38
HOF 49
 
2nd
INDST 36
MEM 48
 
2nd
UF 35
UNC 43
 
2nd
LATU 39
SAMF 35
 
2nd
TULA 60
SELA 49
 
2nd
NEB 54
TENNM 44
 
Half
MISS 31
CREI 37
 
Half
PORT 30
MURST 29
 
1st
MARQ 9
MSU 9
 
1st
ARK 14
UNT 13
 
1st
NCOL 20
STET 11
 
1st
IND 13
UNCG 9
 
1st
SJST 5
WMICH 15
 
1st
MNTST 13
TXARL 8
 
9:30pm Tonight
UVA
LAS
9:30pm Tonight
STLU
MSST
9:30pm Tonight
COLST
PAC
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
NDAK
10:30pm Tonight
ILL
BAY
10:30pm Tonight
UAB
UCLA
11:30pm Tonight
WASH
LBSU
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
3rd
PIT 2
CAR 3
 
3rd
NJD 4
DET 4
 
3rd
BUF 1
MON 1
 
3rd
CLB 0
VAN 3
 
3rd
BOS 1
WIN 1
 
2nd Intermission
FLA 1
OTT 2
 
2nd
STL 1
EDM 1
 
1st Intermission
DAL 0
MIN 2