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.

Newest First
View all
  • doser Jul 31, 10:46 a.m.

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

  • PackCityyyyy Jul 31, 2:18 p.m.

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

  • BB5 Aug 1, 6:44 a.m.

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

  • ACC: North Carolina vs. Miami

    Today at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego vs. Miami

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida vs. Georgia

    Today at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Notre Dame vs. Navy

    Tonight at 8:00 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Duke at Pittsburgh

    Today at 12:00 pm on 620am

  • Big Ten: Maryland at Penn State

    Today at 12:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Syracuse

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Carolina Hurricanes vs Arizona Coyotes

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
12:00pm Today
PITT
DUKE
12:00pm Today
TEMPL
ECU
12:30pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
3:00pm Today
SYR
NCSU
4:00pm Today
BCOOK
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
MEM
 
Final
IND 89
MEM 97
Final
CHI 108
CLE 114
Final
MIL 93
PHI 81
Final
SAC 103
POR 94
Final
PHO 94
SAN 89
Final
LAL 111
LAC 118
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
MEM
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
MIA
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
MIL
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
BOS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DEN
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
PHO
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAL
 
Final
TULA 14
CIN 38
Final
MEM 40
TULSA 20
11:30am Today
ARMY
AFA
12:00pm Today
PITT
DUKE
12:00pm Today
TEMPL
ECU
12:00pm Today
PSU
MD
12:00pm Today
IOWA
NW
12:00pm Today
ISU
OKLA
12:00pm Today
FIU
RICE
12:00pm Today
UCONN
UCF
12:00pm Today
TEXAM
LAMON
12:00pm Today
RUTG
WISC
12:30pm Today
VT
BC
12:30pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
1:00pm Today
EMICH
CMICH
1:00pm Today
COL
WASH
2:30pm Today
UMO
WMICH
3:00pm Today
SYR
NCSU
3:00pm Today
LATU
WKENT
3:30pm Today
MTST
BYU
3:30pm Today
UGA
UF
3:30pm Today
APPST
GASTATE
3:30pm Today
MICH
IND
3:30pm Today
NEB
PURD
3:30pm Today
WVU
TCU
3:30pm Today
GT
UVA
4:00pm Today
SFLA
HOU
4:00pm Today
BAY
KU
4:00pm Today
MIZZ
KENT
4:00pm Today
NMST
TXST
4:30pm Today
WASU
USC
5:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
ARKST
5:00pm Tonight
LALAF
SALABAMA
5:30pm Tonight
UNLV
NMU
7:00pm Tonight
MISS
AUB
7:00pm Tonight
SJST
COLST
7:00pm Tonight
VANDY
ODU
7:00pm Tonight
FATL
UAB
7:15pm Tonight
MSST
ARK
7:30pm Tonight
OREG
STAN
7:30pm Tonight
SCAR
TENN
7:30pm Tonight
TTU
TEX
8:00pm Tonight
OSU
ILL
8:00pm Tonight
NAVY
ND
8:00pm Tonight
KST
OKST
8:00pm Tonight
UTEP
SMISS
10:30pm Tonight
UCLA
ARZ
10:30pm Tonight
ORST
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
NEV
SDST
10:45pm Tonight
FRES
WYO
11:00pm Tonight
HAW
UTST
11:00pm Tonight
ARST
UTAH
Final
CLB 1
TOR 4
Final
DET 5
LOS 2
Final
DAL 1
ANA 2
Final
CAL 4
NAS 3
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
CHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
OTT
 
7:00pm Tonight
FLA
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
WAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
WIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
COL
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
DAL
 
10:00pm Tonight
EDM
VAN
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
NYI
 
4:00pm Today
BCOOK
NCCU