BTP: The Deacs seem to have found their stride in year three of the Dave Clawson era, starting 4-0 and feature an improved scoring offense. How does the fanbase feel about how things are going under coach Clawson?
J: Everyone is thrilled with the start thus far. Going into the season, finding a way to 6 wins and bowl eligibility was the goal and the Deacs certainly have the schedule to do that with. After stealing two road wins early in the season and still having four favorable home games left on the schedule, those expectations are getting up to 7 or 8 games now. While the defense has always been decent in his tenure, the biggest change this year is in the running game. After looking mostly atrocious during the first two years, the OL is getting some push and the young RBs are doing a great job of finding extra yards. Things are much easier when you can diversify your offense and stay on down-and-distance schedule.
BTP: John Wolford has played well while Kendall Hinton has been sidelined with an injury. How does the WFU offense change with Wolford under center?
J: Wolford has generally been a more accurate passer in the short and middle distance attempts that move the chains. While he isn't as versatile and capable of the big play as Hinton, he does make plenty of plays with his feet when necessary. Overall the offensive scheme doesn't look a whole lot different with Wolford, just a slight difference in emphasis on the passing game vs the read option. For the Deacs to be successful, Wolford needs to be more of a game manager and limit costly turnovers. When he starts pressing to make plays or spends too much time under pressure, he has been known to throw some errant passes.
BTP: Which player on the WFU defense should NC State fans be most concerned with?
J: On the line, Wake Forest's force is Duke Ejiofor. Although he was a little quiet in the Indiana game, the other three games he has been an absolute terror from the DE position. The second half against Duke was Duke's coming out party, where he essentially took over the game and finished with 7 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 3 sacks and 2 QB hurries.
In the secondary, redshirt freshman Jessie Bates has been a pleasant surprise at safety. He is one of those players that always seems to be around the ball and will be a treat to watch over the next 4 seasons. Last week at IU he had two interceptions, one of which he took back for 6.
BTP: Who is someone on the NC State roster that gives Wake fans concerns?
J: Matt Dayes absolutely destroyed Wake in Winston last season, so he is the first one that comes to mind. The other is Nyheim Hines, but that is more as a result of Wake's pursuit of him from a recruiting aspect a couple years ago. He's a name that many Deacon fans will remember.
BTP: Any major injury concerns to report?
J: Other than the starting QB and RB, the Deacs are coming in mostly healthy (Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?). Obviously those are game-changing losses, but all the main guys on defense should be ready to go.
BTP: Let's get a prediction on the game!
J: The Deacs tend to go to Raleigh with high hopes and get blown out, at least when I attend the game. Luckily for Wake, I have to go to a wedding in Cape Cod so it won't be my fault this time. Carter Finley is a much tougher atmosphere to navigate than Duke or Indiana, so keeping the avalanche from hitting early will be the key for the Deacs. I think it'll be close at halftime, but without a significant turnover margin it'll be tough for Wake to score enough to keep up with the Pack's offensive output. I'll say 34-24 Pack.
Many thanks to Jake for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure to go check out my responses to his questions over on BloggerSoDear.