Wake Forest was waiting for this game for a year, and it was worth it for Dave Clawson’s program. Wake Forest (5-3, 2-3 ACC) ambushed Louisville (5-4, 2-4 ACC) in the first half and kept their distance in the second half of a 42-32 victory Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford passed for 461 yards and four touchdowns and added one rushing touchdown to his box score to lead the way in a showdown with the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson.
As hard as he tried, Jackson was unable to carry the Cardinals to a road win. Jackson rushed for 161 yards and passed for 330 yards and a score to lead a rally in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome a rough first half. Wake Forest had two guys ripping up the Louisville defense as well, with Scotty Washington catching six passes for 133 yards and Greg Dortch tormenting the Cardinals for 167 yards and four touchdowns on 10 receptions. On the ground, Wake Forest got 134 yards out of Matt Colburn.
Wake Forest now needs just one more win to become bowl-eligible, although the remaining schedule is not an easy one. Next week, Wake Forest heads to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame. After that is a road trip to Syracuse, followed by home games against NC State and Duke to close out the regular season.
For Louisville, the Cardinals get a week off before their final stretch. Louisville returns to the field on Nov. 11 at home against Virginia.
A year removed from a bizarre scandal involving a Wake Forest radio announcer providing inside tips to Louisville coaches, it is perfectly clear Louisville didn’t have any secrets shared with them after one half of play. Of course, that insider information ended up helping out Louisville in the second half a year ago, so we’ll see what develops after halftime with Wake Forest leading the Cardinals 28-10 at the break.
Wake Forest’s offense is well ahead of their total yardage average with 342 offensive yards in the first half, all while holding the football for eight fewer minutes than Louisville. The Demon Deacons are 4-for-6 on third down and 1-for 2 on fourth with 15 first downs. John Walford has passed for 258 yards and three scores, with all three touchdowns coming through Greg Dortch. Scotty Washington has had his hands on five passes for 127 yards too.
But the Wake Forest defense has been locked in. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has picked up 75 rushing yards and a score, but throwing the football has not been effective for the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner. Jackson has completed 13 of 22 passes for 112 yards with an interception. Wake Forest has brought pressure on him at times as well and is not letting Jackson hurt them.
It is quite the uphill battle for Louisville on the road in the second half. Wake Forest gets the ball to start the second half.
Wake Forest’s quarterback depth will be a tad more shallow the next few weeks. Quarterback Kendall Hinton will be out of action for anywhere between two and four weeks, according to the school on Monday. Hinton suffered a sprained ligament in his left knee over the weekend against Delaware. It was his second start for Wake Forest.
With the announced timeline for his injury recovery, Wake Forest will be without Hinton for games against Indiana and North Carolina State at a minimum. Additional lost time could cost Hinton a chance to play against Syracuse and Florida State in the weeks to follow. With Hinton out of action, Wake Forest will run the offense with John Wolford, who previously lost the starting job to Hinton.
Hinton completed 11 of 19 pass attempts in his appearances in three games so far this season, accounting for 174 passing yards and one interception. While his passing numbers may not be great, what he brought to the running game is what stood out.Hinton rushed for 390 yards and seven touchdowns last season and was off and running this year with 125 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Last season, Hinton appeared in 10 games for the Demon Deacons and passed for 929 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions, while Wolford led the passing offense.
The Wake Forest quarterback pool is rather shallow in depth. Tyler Cameron, who was second on the Demon Deacons in passing last season, has left the program and is joining the Florida Atlantic Owls. He does so as a graduate transfer, which seems to be a rather trendy option this offseason. That will make him eligible to play at FAU this season.
“Tyler is intelligent and made use of his athletic ability to earn a degree from Wake Forest in just three years,” FAU coach Charlie Partridge said in a released statement (via Palm Beach Post). “It is that same drive that affords him the opportunity to return home and work toward a post-graduate degree. He will certainly add experience and depth in the quarterback meeting room.”
Cameron actually has two years of eligibility remaining at FAU, thanks to graduating from Wake Forest in just three years. FAU is returning three-year starter Jaquez Johnson, but Cameron will fill out some depth at the position and have time to get adjusted to his new surroundings.
The loss of Cameron also leaves Wake Forest pretty thin at quarterback. At this moment, the official team roster available on the team’s website lists just three quarterbacks; John Wolford, Kyle Driscoll, and Kendall Hinton. Wolford was Wake Forest’s leading passer last season, as a freshman. Wolford passed for 2,037 yards and 12 touchdowns, but was intercepted 14 times. He is the quarterback Dave Clawson will continue to mold his program around in 2015.
With John Wolford, a true freshman, seemingly entrenched as Wake Forest’s starting quarterback, Travis Smith took his leave of the football program in mid-September. Three months later, the quarterback officially has a new home.
Friday afternoon, Eastern Michigan announced that Smith is one of eight players, mostly from the JUCO ranks, who have been added to the football program. Smith is already enrolled in classes at EMU for the winter semester.
The rising sophomore will participate in spring practice and, because of when he left Wake, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.
Smith, who didn’t see the field during his very brief stint with the Demon Deacons, was a three-star member of Wake’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 24 dual-threat quarterback in the country. Following his senior season in high school, he was named the Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year.
(Photo credit: Wake Forest athletics)