The closer Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson advances to settling on one quarterback, the more he is pulled back into playing two quarterbacks.
A quarterback controversy is a coach’s biggest headache, and Wake Forest isn’t clear of one yet. It helps that the Deacons are 4-0 and gaining votes among “others” in both the AP and USA Today polls, but in the long run, every coach wants to settle on one quarterback.
First, Kendall Hinton spoke about how comfortable he felt learning at halftime of the Duke victory that he wasn’t coming out of the game. He sparked a rally from a 7-0 deficit to a 7-7 halftime tie and a 24-14 win.
“That takes pressure off you knowing any little mistake and you’re not coming out,” Hinton told reporters outside the visitors’ locker room. “You can loosen up and play ball.”
Hinton was named the starter for the third game against Delaware, but he suffered a sprained knee. John Wolford came on to finish the 38-21 victory.
Wolford entered last week’s Indiana game knowing he didn’t have to look over his shoulder. He played like it, too, comfortably leading a 33-28 victory at Indiana.
Naturally, Clawson was asked at his Tuesday media session about how Wolford appeared to play with confidence.
“I guess you could get into the psychology of it,” Clawson said. “John certainly played well the second half at Delaware. It was his strongest game, and he took care of the football. He made plays with his feet.
“I think part of it is he’s healthy, which he wasn’t a year ago. He’s a guy that out of camp won our starting quarterback job, so it’s not as if we don’t believe he’s a good player. We believe John is a very good player. I don’t think we were surprised with how he played. We know John is capable of doing that, but I was most pleased with his decision making.”
Clawson also announced on Tuesday Hinton is out for another week, so he doesn’t have to make a quarterback decision this week when Wake Forest (4-0, 1-0 ACC Atlantic) travels to North Carolina State (2-1, 0-0 ACC Atlantic).
Someday soon he’ll have two quarterbacks to juggle again.
NC STATE’S SWISS ARMY KNIFE
N.C. State’s 33-30 loss at East Carolina dug an early-season hole for the Wolfpack, but one of the encouraging signs is how new offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz gets the ball to the player known as their Swiss Army Knife: Jaylen Samuels.
The 5-foot-11, 223-pounder is listed as a tight end, but he can shift to fullback, H-back and even to wide receiver.
He leads the team in receiving with 13 catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns with a long of 22 yards. He’s third in rushing with 12 carries for 62 yards and three touchdowns.
Samuels was used in a similar role last year as a first-team All-ACC tight end that scored nine rushing touchdowns and seven more receiving, but he the Wolfpack didn’t always look to him in tight situations.
The Pack will need to entrust him with the ball against Wake Forest. It’s a game Dave Doeren sorely needs to win in order to alleviate pressure in Raleigh.
Speaking of pressure…
DUKE TURNS UP PRESSURE
Duke is in a five-way tie for the national lead with 17 sacks, a number through four games that matches the Blue Devils’ total last season.
The biggest of the three sacks Duke recorded in last week’s 38-35 upset of Notre Dame was a coverage sack aided by two strong cover corners, senior Breon Borders and junior Bryon Fields.
Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer couldn’t find an open receiver as sophomore defensive end Marquies Price looped around second and third blockers to sack Kizer for a seven-yard loss that set up a third and 20. Kizer was intercepted on the next play and Duke drove 44 yards in 10 plays to kick the game-winning field goal.
“It’s a defensive coordinator’s dream,” said sophomore linebacker Ben Humphreys at Tuesday’s media session. “You can bring pressure from different places and not just have to rush four.”
Duke’s pressure is coming from everywhere with 10 players recording sacks. Defensive tackle A.J. Wolfe leads the team with four. Safety DeVon Edwards, who was lost for the season with a knee injury in the Notre Dame game, is still second with three.
Duke (2-2, 0-1 ACC Coastal) meets Virginia (1-3, 0-0 ACC Coastal) Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Cavaliers have allowed 10 sacks in four games to rank tied for 92nd in the nation.
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