This summer we’re checking in with the SBN blogs covering Notre Dame football’s upcoming opponents for the upcoming season. Today we start with a look at Wake Forest who host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on September 22nd.
Mr. Riley Johnston, managing editor of Blogger So Dear, SBN’s Wake Forest Blog, answered some of our burning questions about the Demon Deacs’ recent history, their upcoming season, and how they stack up with the Fighting Irish.
1. What’s your overall impression of how Wake Forest’s 2017 season went?
2017 was an extremely successful year for Wake Forest. Not only did it win its second straight bowl game, but it had good wins over Louisville, N.C. State, and Texas A&M, which are the types of wins that lead into beating even bigger name opponents moving forward. John Wolford had the most successful year ever as a QB at Wake, and the offense showed tremendous steps as to how good it can be under head coach Dave Clawson.
2. Will Wake Forest be better or worse in 2018?
I believe that Wake will be better by a game or two, which puts the Deacs in position to win 9-10 games. I know that is a bit of a bold statement playing in the ACC Atlantic (FSU, Clemson, Louisville, N.C. State, Boston College), all of which are expected to go bowling this year, and also by hosting Notre Dame. It is going to be dependent on what Wake can get at QB as far as replacing John Wolford. Kendall Hinton has started for Wake before but needs to stay healthy and show an improvement in his mid-range passing accuracy if the Deacs are going to improve.
3. What’s going to be the biggest change between last year’s Wake Forest team and this one?
Replacing John Wolford is definitely the biggest thing that this team has to figure out heading into 2018. The rest of the offense (sans All-ACC tight end Cam Serigne) is coming back, including all five offensive linemen. This will give the Deacs a chance to get settled with Hinton in the game due to the experience around him, but at the end of the day, the decision making and accuracy of Hinton is what will matter.
4. Who are the big name players to watch for Wake Forest this year?
Greg Dortch is without a doubt one of the most electrifying players I have ever seen at Wake Forest and is a threat to score the ball every single time he touches it. He was having a dominant freshman season before he got injured in a win over Louisville that ended his season. I expect he will be even better this year, and Clawson will do everything in his power to get him the ball as much as possible.
5. What’s your prediction for this team’s game against Notre Dame this year?
I don’t really know what to expect against Notre Dame. If Wake can take care of business at home then it could be undefeated when it welcomes Notre Dame to Winston. that would be one of the biggest games in the history of our stadium because it would be THE next step to take to move up in the college football world a little bit. I haven’t done a ton of research on the Irish for this upcoming season, but think this will be a close one that could go either way.