Three things to know as Wake Forest tries to collect second straight ACC victory
WINSTON-SALEM — Following the securing of their first Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season, the Wake Forest football team wants to see the positives carry over.
The Demon Deacons play host to No. 19 Virginia Tech on Saturday, looking to continue the pattern of improvement they’ve boosted in recent weeks.
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said the level of play his team put forth in defeating Virginia last week will need to raise again to beat the Hokies (3-1 overall, 3-1 ACC).
"Against Virginia Tech, with the level that they're playing at right now," Clawson said. "I'd say we probably are going to have to grade out even higher and play at a higher level to come out of this week (with a victory)."
Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons (2-2, 1-2) are looking to collect their third straight victory after opening the season with losses to Clemson and North Carolina State.
Here are three things worth knowing when Wake Forest and Virginia Tech meet Saturday:
Can turnaround continue?
The Wake Forest defense came out of the halftime locker room and executed its adjustments to hold Virginia to three second-half points last week.
It was a dominant performance and one to build on for the Demon Deacons.
“I thought our defensive staff and our players did one of the best jobs that we've done in the last couple years here of making adjustments at halftime and then executing those adjustments,” Clawson said. “Really, if it's not for a foolish penalty on a kickoff return, probably we should have shut them out in the second half.”
After struggling defensively in games against Clemson and N.C. State earlier in the season, it was more of the same in the first half against Virginia, which used three different quarterbacks.
“We didn't know who we were going to see,” Clawson said. “And it's almost like we had to get through the storm, you know, three different quarterbacks, they were doing different things with all three. We were really unsettled there.”
Young guys step up
The injury bug has hit the Wake Forest secondary this season, affecting important contributors such as Nasir Greer, Luke Masterson and Trey Rucker.
Two true freshmen stepped up and stood out against the Cavaliers.
Cornerback Caelen Carson recorded an interception and six tackles while safety Nick Andersen, a walk-on, made nine stops and broke up two passes.
That’s a nice development for Clawson, who said its now about all the young players on his team being able to carry it over for a full season starting Saturday against the Hokies.
“We’ve got seven more games against good football teams,” he said. “Now the next challenge is can you do it for an 11-game season? You know, can you prepare every week, that's always the difference between, to me, younger players and older players. Older players know what the marathon is. The younger guys think it's a sprint. And now we've got to do it two weeks in a row.”
Beal-Smith good to go
Wake Forest running back Christian Beal-Smith left the second half of last week’s game against Virginia with an injury. The redshirt junior headed to the locker room but returned to the sideline, although he didn’t make his way back on the field.
Clawson said Beal-Smith could’ve returned but the Demon Deacons rode with Kenneth Walker III, who was catching fire late in the game.
Beal-Smith will play against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Clawson said.
“We were concerned,” Clawson said. “They went in and checked him out and the doctors cleared him in the second half. At that point, Kenneth Walker was hot. So we were going to ride Kenneth. … Christian could have gone back in and he's fine, and he'll be good to go.”
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