- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Previewing the 2014 season for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons:
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.
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: 3½
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