Photo Credit: Jake Roth
For the first time this season, Virginia Tech will face a ranked opponent in Lane Stadium as No. 19 Wake Forest comes to Blacksburg a week ahead of what could be the only ranked, regular season matchup between 2 ACC teams (Clemson-Wake Forest).
To break down Wake Forest, we have Robert Reinhard of the Roll The Quadcast podcast and blogger emeritus of SB Nation's Blogger So Dear joining us. We thank Robert for joining us this week and encourage you to give him a follow @Robert_Reinhard.
With that said, let's get to this week's Q&A with Robert.
1. How has Dave Clawson turned Wake into one of the ACC's best programs and how long do you see him staying at Wake?
I would love to see someone write a book about Clawson's rebuild, but I'll attempt to give the brief version. Clawson has been dubbed a rebuild maestro, as he has successfully rebuilt programs at Fordham, Richmond, and Bowling Green, so it helped that he'd previously established a gameplan for rebuilds.
One of the initial things that he and his staff did so well was develop the offensive line. He inherited probably the worst offensive line in the FBS, and the past several years Wake Forest has had one of the best offensive lines in the ACC, which makes things much easier on your quarterback and skill position players. John Wolford's development at quarterback was also a big part of the program. He started his career as a true freshman behind that porous offensive line and finished it with consecutive bowl wins.
Clawson and his staff are also very adept at identifying talent, so a player like Greg Dortch from Richmond, Virginia, who was a 2 star out of high school, turns into an All-ACC player. Overall, I think he also clearly identified players who'd be a good fit at the school, and created a team that had a lot of similar values and also a passion for Wake. I think that togetherness helped with the buy-in during the first 2 years of his tenure, which were ugly on the field, but anyone paying attention could see that improvement was soon to come.
While this was going on, the university and donors were making a bigger commitment to athletics, specifically football, in the way of an indoor practice facility, as well as state of the art strength training equipment, so all of that helps with recruiting and things build on each other.
How long does he stay? I hope forever. He signed another contract extension in April of 2019 that is good through 2026, and also received a considerable raise for him and his staff at that time. At this point, I think it would take a very attractive job to take him away, and that says a lot about what he's built here.
2. Why has Wake's offense has as much success as it has had in Jamie Newman's first full season as starting QB?
The short version of it is that Newman is really good. One CBS draft expert even thinks he could go in thefirst round. Since we run the RPO and he's so big, but still agile, I think that is a different component that we haven't had previously. I also believe that it helps that we have really good and big receivers in Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington on the perimeter, to go along with a nice quarterback-turned-slot receiver in Kendall Hinton. Newman is very accurate, so often times he just places balls to our big receivers where only they can get it. We combined that with both power and change of pace backs to go along with a very good tight end in Jack Freudenthal. And, of course, the aforementioned offensive line.
3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Wake Forest's defense?
Our biggest strength is probably our pass rush in third-and-long situations. Carlos "Boogie" Basham is a star and is projected to be a first round pick next year. Additionally, we have a pair of senior corners in Amari Henderson and Essang Bassey. Our biggest weakness is probably speed at linebacker, but they are good tacklers. Even though we have good corners, we occasionally get beat over the top.
4. Who are the x-factors for Wake that VT must keep an eye on?
I'd say that wide receiver Scotty Washington is a bit of an x-factor. He's had some monster games this season, but sometimes you don't notice him as much. I'd love to see him have a great afternoon. I'd also point to running back Kenneth Walker, who is explosive, but has mostly been quiet as of late. If he can break out, it gives the offense another dimension.
5. What are the keys to the game for Wake Forest?
The keys for Wake are that we're going to have to get our offense going and capitalize on red zone opportunities. We were in a nail biter against Florida State because we made 5 field goals - none of which were longer than 27 yards. When we get inside the red zone, particularly the ten, we need 7 and not 3. On defense, we struggle with mobile quarterbacks, so it's essential that we keep VT's QB from breaking a long one, or even breaking an 8 yard gain that picks up a crucial 3rd down.
For some reason I just have a bad feeling about this one.We edged out Boston College on the road, who is ranked similarly to VT, and VT will have a much tougher road environment. I'll take VT by a field goal.
We once again want to thank Robert for joining us and encourage to give him a follow @Robert_Reinhard.