Winston-Salem, NC – Wake Forest went through a two-hour intrasquad scrimmage Saturday afternoon at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex.
Wake Forest’s offense scored 31 points on three touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown and a field goal. Senior quarterback John Wolford threw three touchdown passes, hitting freshman Sage Surratt on an 11-yard passing, Cortez Lewis on a juggling 46-yard completion and tight end Devin Pike on a 16-yard route. Redshirt freshman Greg Dortch added a 63-yard touchdown run and Ben Brown booted a 23-yard field goal.
“From the defensive perspective, the good is it started out real well then we gave up a bunch of explosives,” said head coach Dave Clawson. “You look at it offensively, we started out slowly then we made a bunch of explosives. Defensively, I thought Jessie Bates is a really a good alley tackler. He’s a good player. I thought we protected better today on offense. But the offense made some explosives late. Certainly, John looked very sharp. He threw the ball accurately again and made some really nice deep ball throws. It was good to see Greg Dortch make plays in space and see Cortez (Lewis) make a big play. I thought Arkeem Byrd ran extremely hard which was good to see. I think defensively, the story is when we had our (first team) out there, when it was Jessie (Bates), Jaboree (Williams), and Duke (Ejiofor), we played well. When we take those guys off, there was a big drop off. So the second half of camp, we have to start building depth there and getting the backups ready.”
Despite giving up some big plays, Clawson was encouraged with the play of the defense.
“I thought the corners actually played better today,” said Clawson. “Amari Henderson is having a good camp, Essang (Bassey) is solid and the freshman, Ja’Sir Taylor is really coming on. We really have to find a third safety. Right now, Jessie (Bates) and Cam (Glenn) would have to play the most there.”
Earlier in the week, Clawson spoke about the need for one of three true freshmen linebackers to play this fall. That picture may be starting to clear up.
“Right now DJ Taylor is starting to make steps and show up on special teams,” said Clawson. “He has a knack for making plays. Going into (camp), he was more of a high school running back so I thought he might be one of the last guys to pick up on things but he has really shown a knack for making plays so that’s why we’re feeding him reps.”
Safety Thomas Dillon led the defense with seven tackles while freshman safety Tyriq Hardimon had six. Defensive end Chris Calhoun had five tackles and a sack. Also garnering sacks on defense were linebacker Nate Mays, defensive lineman Tyler Williams, and defensive ends Duke Ejiofor and Mike Allen.
On offense, Wolford completed 10 of 15 passes for 204 yards. Kendall Hinton connected on six of nine throws for 77 yards and Jamie Newman was five-for-six for 56 yards.
“John is playing really, really well and it showed up two scrimmages in a row,” said Clawson a week after Wolford completed 14 of 15 passes in a scrimmage. “We have three weeks (to make a decision). I can’t imagine we’re going to go thru the year and not play both of them. John, the last two scrimmages, has really played well. And he’s been really sharp, very accurate. He’s just so smart and he anticipates openings. He has played a lot of football. He’s got a lot of reps and when he goes out there he knows where the ball goes and he throws it accurately. And today I thought we protected better.”
Also making an offensive impact was receiver Greg Dortch who had a team-high six receptions for 99 yards which carrying three times for 69 yards.
“I think with Greg, he makes the spectacular and he’s great in open space,” said Clawson. “But in a scrimmage where he plays 40 or 50 plays, there are some breakdowns. It’s the nature of being a redshirt freshman. That’s why we’ve got three weeks left. We’ll get him work and we just need to make him more consistent. He has that God-given playmaking ability that you can’t coach. Now we just have to get him better at the things we can coach. Getting the routes at the right depth, timing up the motion exactly when we need it, reading the leverage of the safety. Knowing when it’s a hot (route) and he has to break it out. Those are things that just take time and repetition.”
Clawson was also in praise of Hinton and lamented that he is unable to utilize his whole skill-set in scrimmage situations.
“It’s always tough with Kendall,” said Clawson. “You’re going to run the quarterback more and in a scrimmage, he gets touched and he’s down. It’s not fair to him. Who’s the more accurate passer? I could have told you before we started camp that John would be the more accurate passer. In a scrimmage when the quarterback is not live and your greatest asset is the ability to break people down and make them miss, it’s not fair to him. I think you came away from the last scrimmage and said ‘wow, John was 14 of 15.’ But if you look at the film and if you were able to say Kendall had five carries for 175 yards, that’s pretty impressive.”
Wake Forest returns to the practice field Sunday afternoon in preparation for the season opener on August 31 against Presbyterian at BB&T Field.
- C A’Lique Terry is expected back at practice on Monday after missing time with an injury.
- PK Mike Weaver was held out of Saturday’s scrimmage with a hip flexor.