NCF Nation: Kevin Johnson

Wake Forest season preview

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
10:30
AM ET
 

» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC 

Previewing the 2014 season for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons:

Key returners: WR Tyree Harris, LB Brandon Chubb, SS Ryan Janvion, CB Kevin Johnson, CB Merrill Noel, P Alexander Kinal, K Chad Hedlund

Key losses: QB Tanner Price, RB Josh Harris, WR Michael Campanaro, DT Nikita Whitlock, LB Mike Olson

Instant impact newcomer: First-year coach Dave Clawson hopes the biggest impact comes from freshman John Wolford, who was recently named the Demon Deacons’ starting quarterback. Wolford had a solid offer sheet coming out of high school, as Mississippi State and Penn State both recruited the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Jacksonville, Florida, native. Clawson ideally won’t have to ask too much of his quarterback, but he will need to find a viable running back to ease the pressure off Wolford.

[+] EnlargeKevin Johnson
AP Photo/Chuck BurtonWake Forest will rely on its veteran players this season, including senior cornerback Kevin Johnson.
Most important 2014 games: Aug. 28 at Louisiana-Monroe, Nov. 15 at NC State, Nov. 29 at Duke

Projected win percentage: 30 percent

Over/under Vegas odds:

Best-case scenario for 2014: Clawson knows he has a serious rebuilding project at Wake Forest, and he will not be judged on how the Demon Deacons fare in his inaugural season. There is an opportunity for a few early wins before conference play begins, though. The opener against Louisiana-Monroe won’t be easy, as the Warhawks have been a solid Sun Belt team of late. But Wake Forest also plays Gardner-Webb and Army in the nonconference. If Wake can get to three wins and Wolford shows promise, this will be a good first season for Clawson.

Worst-case scenario: No one would be shocked if the Demon Deacons did not pick up a single win, which would mean they had an ugly loss to Gardner-Webb. Even if Wake Forest goes winless, Clawson is playing for the future. If Wolford doesn’t progress throughout the season, that could be the biggest setback to Wake’s future.

They said it: “We will try and redshirt players, but if a freshman gives us the best chance to win, we’re going to play him. It’s not fair to the juniors and the seniors in the program to make a decision based on what’s best five years from now. He gives us the best chance to win, so we will now prepare him as our starting quarterback.” -- Clawson

Player list for ACC media days

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
2:24
PM ET
The 2014 college football season is inching ever so closer, with ACC media days set to take place in less than two weeks.

The league released its list of players who will be attending the July 20-21 event at The Grandover Resort in Greensboro, North Carolina. Here they are:

BOSTON COLLEGE
C Andy Gallik, R-Sr.
DB Dominique Williams, R-Sr.

CLEMSON
QB Cole Stoudt, Sr.
DE Vic Beasley, R-Sr.

DUKE
OG Laken Tomlinson, R-Sr.
LB Kelby Brown, R-Sr.

FLORIDA STATE
QB Jameis Winston, R-So.
CB P.J. Williams, Jr.

GEORGIA TECH
OG Shaquille Mason, Sr.
LB Quayshawn Nealy, R-Sr.

LOUISVILLE
WR DeVante Parker, Sr.
DE Lorenzo Mauldin, Sr.

MIAMI
RB Duke Johnson, Jr.
LB Denzel Perryman, Sr.

NORTH CAROLINA
QB Marquise Williams, Jr.
LB Norkeithus Otis, Sr.

NC STATE
RB Tony Creecy, R-Sr.
DE Art Norman, R-Sr.

PITT
WR Tyler Boyd, So.
DB Ray Vinopal, R-Sr.

SYRACUSE
OT Sean Hickey, Sr.
LB Cameron Lynch, Sr.

VIRGINIA
RB Kevin Parks, Sr.
SS Anthony Harris, Sr.

VIRGINIA TECH
WR Willie Byrn, R-Sr.
DT Luther Maddy, DT

WAKE FOREST
FB Jordan Garside, R-Sr.
CB Kevin Johnson, R-Sr.

Wake Forest holds on to beat UVa

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
3:56
PM ET
Wake Forest did not have to do much on offense against Virginia, not with the way the defense played on Saturday.

The Deacs got three field goals from Chad Hedlund in his first career start and held on to win 16-10, handing the Hoos their sixth straight loss. Virginia hit a new low point on the season, scoring a season low for points while turning the ball over way too much once again.

Anybody who tuned in knows this game was unwatchable at times. Virginia had plenty of opportunities to win, but Wake Forest came up big time and again. Down 16-10, Phillip Sims had the Hoos driving early in the fourth quarter. But he threw an ill-advised pass down the field that was intercepted by Kevin Johnson near the goal line.

Later in the period, Virginia (2-6, 0-4) had the ball down to the Wake 36, but the Deacs defense came up with back-to-back plays behind the line of scrimmage. The first was a tackle on Clifton Richardson for a 6-yard loss. Nikita Whitlock was forced out of the game because he lost his helmet. His replacement, Tylor Harris, came up with a huge sack on Sims on third down.

Virginia nearly had one final attempt to win, but Khalek Shepherd fumbled a punt with two minutes to go, and Wake Forest recovered.

So on the day, the Hoos had three turnovers and finished minus-3 in turnover ratio, with just 301 yards of total offense.

They actually outgained Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3), which had 215 yards of total offense and only converted one of 14 third-down opportunities. Tanner Price only had 102 yards passing (7-of-19). Its only touchdown of the day was set up because of a terrific return on special teams by Lovell Jackson. But that is a fine formula to win: solid special teams, solid defense and limit your own mistakes.

ACC power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
11:00
AM ET
There was plenty of news in the ACC this summer, some of which has affected the order of the power ranking since it was last released post-spring. The biggest difference is at the bottom, where Maryland has sunk following the season-ending injury to starting quarterback C.J. Brown. The first five teams remained the same, but UNC got a small boost after positive reviews by the staff and players who were learning the new systems and terminology of first-year coach Larry Fedora.

This list will change with the season, but for now, here is the starting point for how the ACC teams stack up heading into Week 1:

1. Florida State: There is no excuse for coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff not to take advantage of the ubertalented roster this year and run away with it. The biggest questions remaining are how the Noles will handle the loss of cornerback Greg Reid, and how much better the offensive line will look than it did a year ago.

2. Clemson: The Tigers will be without suspended starting receiver Sammy Watkins for the opener against Auburn, but there are enough other options that Clemson’s offense should still be productive. The depth on the offensive line remains a question, though, and the pressure is on first-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables to help Clemson fans forget the Orange Bowl.

3. Virginia Tech: The Hokies are confident in the speed, talent and athleticism of their young running backs and receivers, but the lack of experience remains a concern. Bud Foster’s defense should again be the strength of the team, particularly early, but with Georgia Tech on the schedule for Labor Day, there’s no time for a tuneup.

4. NC State: The Wolfpack kicks off the season against Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl trying to sustain the positive momentum with which it ended 2011. Coach Tom O’Brien has said this is the deepest, most talented team he has had since he was hired in Raleigh, but will it be good enough to beat Florida State and Clemson in the same season?

5. Georgia Tech: The Jackets could sneak up on some teams this year, as they have one of the best offensive lines coach Paul Johnson has had since he was hired there. Expectations are higher for the defense in Year 3 under coordinator Al Groh, and the hire of assistant Dave Walkosky should help the special teams.

6. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have the potential to play spoiler this year, or they could have a particularly bumpy ride given the complete overhaul in staff, schemes and philosophy. The players have bought in, though, and quarterback Bryn Renner adapted well to the spread offense this summer.

7. Wake Forest: Coach Jim Grobe has some hidden gems on this team, as players like receiver Michael Campanaro, nose guard Nikita Whitlock and cornerback Kevin Johnson are all-conference candidates. Questions still remain, though, about the offensive line, and two league games in the first three weeks won’t be easy.

8. Virginia: Coach Mike London is expected to release a depth chart today naming his starting quarterback, but the bigger concern should be a secondary that has to replace three starters. The Hoos have two of the best offensive tackles in the country, though, in Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi. They could pave the way for Perry Jones to have a 1,000-yard season.

9. Miami: Quarterback Stephen Morris earned the starting job this summer, and his leadership will be critical to a young offense that must replace seven starters. The Canes will continue to play with the NCAA investigation hanging over their heads, but those within the program say it hasn’t been a distraction.

10. Duke: The Blue Devils have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the ACC in Sean Renfree, but they need to stay healthy and show improvement on the defensive line in order to have a chance at a bowl game. Duke has a legitimately tough task in getting past FIU in a game that will set the course for its season – and possibly postseason.

11. Boston College: The Eagles couldn’t seem to get a break this offseason, as injuries piled up and athletic director Gene DeFilippo announced his retirement. Coach Frank Spaziani enters this season with the hottest seat in the ACC. It’s only Week 1, but the game against Miami is a must-win for the Eagles.

12. Maryland: Barring something catastrophic, the season-ending injury to quarterback C.J. Brown was arguably the worst thing that could have happened to the Terps this offseason. The offense will be in the hands of true freshman Perry Hills, and Maryland will adjust to two new coordinators in its quest to turn around last season’s 2-10 finish.
As advertised ...

1. Florida State: The Noles have one of the best cornerback duos in the country in Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. They combined for 33 passes defended last season, the most of any pair of cornerbacks in the nation. Mike Harris had 41 tackles and four picks as a reserve.

[+] EnlargeGreg Reid
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireFlorida State cornerback Greg Reid is also one of the ACC's top return men.
2. Virginia Tech: Jayron Hosley is one of the top boundary corners in the country, and the Hokies also have Kyle Fuller, who had six deflections last season, and Cris Hill (two deflections) at field corner.

3. Maryland: The Terps return both starters in Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes, who combined for 36 career starts. Chism is a strong cover corner who had 70 tackles and eight deflections last season. Hughes had nine pass deflections.

4. NC State: Both starters return in C.J. Wilson and David Amerson. Wilson had 46 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups, and Amerson had 57 tackles. Justin Byers and Gary Grant also have experience.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost some remarkable talent in their secondary, including cornerback Kendric Burney, but there is a lot of depth at the position. Jabari Price started four games last season, Charles Brown has 22 career starts but sat out last season, and Mywan Jackson and Tre Boston both have at least four starts each.

6. Boston College: The Eagles will miss DeLeon Gause, but Donnie Fletcher has 17 career starts, 56 tackles last season, and led the team with five picks. C.J. Jones played in 12 games as a backup last season with 16 tackles. Dominique Williams also saw some time and had four tackles, and true freshman Al Louis-Jean, who was the No. 9 cornerback in the nation as ranked by ESPN Recruiting, enrolled early.

7. Clemson: It’s a young group, as the Tigers had to replace Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell. Xavier Brewer had 10 starts with 50 tackles and two interceptions last season, Coty Sensabaugh had 31 tackles in three starts, and senior Mansa Joseph will also be competing for playing time with sophomore Martin Jenkins.

8. Virginia: The Cavaliers return both starters in Chase Minnifield and Devin Wallace, but Wallace was suspended and missed spring ball and is still suspended. Wallace had 38 tackles and six breakups last season. Chris Broadnax, Rijo Walker, Drequan Hoskey and Pablo Alvarez will all compete for playing time.

9. Miami: The Hurricanes have to replace both starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Jo-Jo Nicholas moved to corner and Brandon McGee, who was the nickel back last season, will compete along with Lee Chambers, Keion Payne, Nathan Gholston and true freshman Thomas Finnie, who had a great spring.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace their entire secondary, including cornerbacks Mario Butler and Dominique Reese. They’ve still got several cornerbacks with experience in Rashaad Reid, who started 14 games in 2008 and 2009, Rod Sweeting (38 tackles, seven pass breakups, one interception), Louis Young (10 tackles), and Michael Peterson (six tackles, one pass breakup).

11. Wake Forest: The Deacs have a deep enough secondary that they can live without the experience of cornerback Kevin Johnson, who started five games last season but will sit out this season while academically ineligible. Josh Bush had 33 tackles and four pass breakups last season, Kenny Okoro is a rising star, A.J. Marshall has three starts and Dominique Tate returns after missing last season while on academic suspension.

12. Duke: Ross Cockrell is a returning starter and finished last season with 60 tackles and 10 passes defended. He was only a freshman but he tied for eighth in the ACC with passes defended with 10 in 12 games. Johnny Williams had four pass breakups last season.

SPONSORED HEADLINES