first_img Published on November 2, 2018 at 4:06 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] Comments Editor’s note: On Tuesday, the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season listed Syracuse as No. 19. The Daily Orange will reflect the rankings of the College Football Playoff and not the Associated Press for the remainder of the season.No. 19 Syracuse (6-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast) travels to Winston-Salem, North Carolina this Saturday to take on Wake Forest (4-4, 1-3). Both teams are coming off high-scoring wins, as the Demon Deacons put up 56 points against Louisville and Syracuse hung 51 on North Carolina State to crack the AP Top-25 for the first time since 2001. The Daily Orange spoke with Conor O’Neill of the Winston-Salem Journal about Wake’s run game, the relationship between Wake Forest’s freshman quarterback and a potential Heisman winner, and a depleted defense. The Daily Orange: What does Wake Forest do in the run game that makes them successful?Conor O’Neill: It’s really RPO-based. And that means they’re relying on a 19-year old freshman quarterback to make the decision to stick it in their bellies and have them run it up the middle or into a zone-blocking scheme on the outside or Sam Hartman will pull it and either run it himself or throw a quick slant or screen based on what the defense reacts to. They’ll throw a true option play in there every now and then where you’ll see a quick pitch or the quarterback will take it himself, but it’s mainly RPO-based and that’s where Matt and Cade have had a lot of success. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textD.O.: What has Sam Hartman as a freshman done to fill John Wolford’s void?C.O.: He does a lot of things the coaches like. He’s a tough kid so he’ll take a pretty hard hit, and he’s not 200 pounds yet so there’s not much of him to get hit, but he’ll take a hard hit and he’ll pop right back up and ‘alright let’s go guys. Next play.’ He’s got a really strong arm. He can make a lot of advanced throws, especially for a freshman quarterback playing Power 5 football. He was coached in pee-wee football by a former UNC quarterback who is actually (UNC basketball Preseason All-American) Luke Maye’s father and then he was coached his last three years of high school by Chad Grier who’s the father of West Virginia (quarterback) Will Grier. He’s been kind of groomed from an early age and he’s got the maturity level to make a lot of advanced throws. D.O.: Wake Forest really struggles defensively. Where’s that breakdown coming from?C.O.: It starts with injuries. It started in the first game of the year. In the second quarter, they lost a safety named Coby Davis to a torn ACL and he was probably their best cover safety. And they’re really thin behind that and it keeps going from there. They’ve got seven scholarship linebackers on the roster and maybe two of them are healthy. They’re starting a 212-pound safety at outside linebacker right now. They’re so thin. It’s become pretty much a patch-work defense. (Wake Forest head coach Dave) Clawson that he sees less missed assignments and they’re lining up better than they were in the first four games and there’s obviously some correlation there with defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel getting fired after the Notre Dame game. Clawson sees some improvement. There’s not much improvement when you look at the stats, but it is there. It’s just even with these last four games, they’re out playing a team like Notre Dame or Clemson. In the last four games they’ll played one team that’s .500 and three teams above .500. The only one that is not currently ranked or has been ranked this year is Pittsburgh and they might have some of the best wins of any of these last four teams. So it’s really just a matter of being able to piece together enough defensive plays to get to where they can feel good about being able to outscore somebody.D.O.: Who do you think will win?C.O.: Whoever likes offensive football. I think I would give Syracuse the edge because I like the fact that they have a senior quarterback. I’ve been a big admirer of Eric Dungey for the past couple of years. This is a game that I think is a toss-up. You start looking for the things that swing games between evenly matched teams and first of all that’s turnovers. Syracuse has the best turnover margin in the ACC so that certainly bodes well for them. Last week against Louisville was the first time that Wake didn’t turn the ball over. So that’s trending in the right direction at least. It’s probably going to come down to who can score 50 points first. center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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