#1 Clemson at Wake Forest
Truist Field,Winston Salem, NC
The Tigers enter this game as huge 32.5 point favorites. Under the leadership of head coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson has won 11 in a row against the Demon Deacons, with the last two coming by a combined score of 115-6. Add in that the Tigers are loaded with talent while Wake Forest won’t even have their biggest threats on offense coming back, and you have the makings for a lopsided affair.
Yes, this Clemson team is loaded with tons of talent on both offense and defense, but not a lot of experience at some positions. The spots that many will notice this the most in will be the offensive line and the receiving corp on the offensive side while the defensive backfield and the linebacking corp will be more noticeable on the defensive side.
Expect the tigers to lean on Travis Etienne, whose versatility alone has been crucial to the Tigers success already. He had over two thousand all-purpose yards last season, scored nineteen touchdowns on the ground, and had another four through the air. He along with the rest of the Tigers stable of running backs will most likely see a lot of carries in this game.
Wake does bring back its entire front seven on defense, including All ACC defensive end Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. This should provide the Tigers new look offensive line a solid challenge to kick off the season.
Watch for the following players to have an immediate impact.:
- E.J. Williams comes in as a stud that has been touted by some as being as good or better than Justyn Ross. Williams came in as a 6-foot-4, 190 pound four star wide receiver and has drawn praise early from Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, who said “I really think we hit a home run with E.J. and he’s very similar to Justyn Ross.”
- Cornell Powell is going into his fourth year at Clemson and many are hoping to see him have a break out type season. Powell enters this season with a total of 40 career catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns. He has had 577 snaps in 42 games. Powell could really help out a team that will be missing a major piece to the puzzle in Justyn Ross who is continuing to recover from spinal surgery earlier this year.
- Braden Galloway gets his first chance at a full season since his suspension to show off his talents. Galloway has been highly touted and expects to give the Tigers their first tight end with the ability to consistently stretch the field since the departure of Jordan Leggett.
- Mario Goodrich, if healthy enough to play, gets his chance to be a huge star in the Clemson defensive backfield. He has gotten a lot of praise from the Tiger coaching staff this fall. Goodrich is going into his junior season credited with 20 tackles and five pass breakups. If he can step up it will definitely help Derion Kendrick and the Clemson defense out tremendously.
- Bryan Bresee is a guy the coaches have raved about every time his name comes up. What will be interesting to see is just how long it takes this young man to make an impact, not only in this game but on the season overall.
- Myles Murphy has the opportunity to make an impact as a freshman also. He came in as not only as a 6-foot-5, 272 pound specimen, but also has shown that he is as talented as any at his age and size. He is already in the two deep and with Justin Foster banged up could get a very early opportunity to shine.
As for Wake Forest, this is a team that not only lost their quarterback, Jamie Newman, who transferred to Georgia but also lost most of their offensive output from last year. Many feel the biggest of those losses would have to be Sage Surratt, their game-changing receiver, who opted out due to Covid-19.
This means that Wake will be forced to turn back to Sam Hartman to run the offense along with many unproven players. Don’t get it wrong. Hartman proved he could produce as a starter in 2018, up until he broke his leg. He is not as versatile as Newman though and that will show on Saturday.
One thing that will be important for Hartman is for him to find a top target. One he can count on and become comfortable with. Wake hopes that will be redshirt freshman Donavon Greene. Greene only played in four games last season but in those four games he had 13 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
Christian Beal-Smith and Kenneth Walker III will split carries at running back. Dave Clawson hopes they can be solid running threats as long as their offensive line holds up, an offensive line that might be the biggest concern of all for the Deacs.
Wake is replacing a lot along the offensive line so depth and experience are problems up front and those are not issues you want when playing a team the caliber of Clemson. That is what has lead many to expect them to be very vulnerable coming into the season.
Clemson’s overall goal this Saturday will be to jump up on Wake Forest as quickly as possible. This allows them to get the backups in early to play as many snaps as they can. Live, in-game experience will help tremendously when it comes to building depth.
Clemson 42 Wake Forest 3
Each week we ask for your predictions over in the Junkies Facebook group and each week we always pick some to include here.
Dana Fowler 28-7
Leonard Wade 59-10
James Tucker 42-14
Sandy Moody 63-7
Doc Gower 56-0
Joey Rogers 49-3
Robert Rambow 52-3
Lisa Mohorn Crimminger 45-10