The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have built a reputation for being a program which regularly maximizes its resources. This was especially true last season, when a team without a bruising, physical identity was able to use a finesse offense to win the ACC Atlantic Division championship.
The Demon Deacons were beaten up and bludgeoned by a very physical Clemson team, but they won all their other ACC regular-season games. Meanwhile, Clemson’s offense collapsed in bad losses to North Carolina State and Pittsburgh.
Wake Forest was able to surge past Clemson and stop the Tigers’ streak of six straight appearances in the ACC Championship Game. The Demon Deacons became the first non-Clemson Atlantic Division champion since Florida State in 2014.
They reached the ACC title game for the first time since 2006. Coach Dave Clawson reminded everyone why he is one of the better coaches in the game. Wake lost to Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship Game, but the season was still an unquestioned success. Now Wake will try to build on that success and see if it can go back-to-back and return to the ACC title game.
How The Team Changed This Offseason
The Demon Deacons watched offensive guard Zach Tom leave for the pro game. He was selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft. Cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor also got drafted. Wake Forest will have to find a way to replace these two high-impact players, one on each side of the ball. It’s true that the Deacs maximize talent, but that doesn’t mean losing players is something they can easily overcome. No one should make that assumption.
Wake Forest Will Be Successful If…
The defensive line improves. Wake Forest was bloodied and bruised by Clemson’s physical offensive linemen. A struggling Clemson offense was able to find its footing against the Deacs by pounding Wake Forest into submission and dominating the line of scrimmage.
That game was an eye-opener. It showed how far Wake Forest’s defensive line fell short of the level needed to win conference championships and perform at the highest level of the sport. Wake had a great 2021 season to be sure, but the Deacs ended that season knowing they still had room to grow and improve. The defensive line is where that need for growth and evolution is supremely acute.
Wake Forest Will Disappoint If…
Their offense regresses. The Wake Forest offense under quarterback Sam Hartman has been terrific in recent years. It dazzled in 2021. The Deacs needed every last ounce of offensive production to achieve what they did last year.
With Hartman back in the saddle this year, Wake can expect to be very potent on offense once again. The key point, though, is that any slight slippage will probably result in a reduced win total this year. The program does not have the extra margin for error.
The One Best Wake Forest Demon Deacons Bet Is…
Odds to win conference championship: +1600
This is really tempting, because Clemson is not the lock to win the ACC it has been in previous years. However, Wake didn’t measure up to Clemson last year, so it’s hard to expect the Deacs to make the leap this year. If you can find a ‘no’ with one of these prop bets, there will be a lot of juice but it should cash.