CLEMSON, S.C. — Wake Forest will go from playing one of the elite programs in the country to at least one, and perhaps two, in a desperate situation in terms of reaching a bowl game.
But, more about Duke and Syracuse — both teams sitting at 4-6 — later this week.
For now, it’s a review of the Deacons’ 52-3 loss at No. 3 Clemson on Saturday:
1. ‘The standard’
Clemson has outscored opponents 315-58 since the one-point win at North Carolina, moved its winning streak to 26 games and is 42-2 against the ACC in the past five seasons.
Coach Dave Clawson wants to build a program that competes for ACC championships — but he’s also realistic about what that entails in this era of Clemson’s dominance — especially with the Deacons missing four of their best players.
“I mean — that’s the best in the country,” Clawson said. “They’ve done that to everybody in our conference other than one team, and you know, we’re not at that level yet, and we’re certainly not close to that level when we’re shorthanded.”
2. An outlier
Before Saturday, the fewest yards Jamie Newman had thrown for in a start for Wake Forest was 177, and that was in the four-touchdown performance at Duke last season.
Completing six passes for 41 yards seems more like a stat line from one drive, but that was Newman’s total against Clemson. He was 6 for 14 and was intercepted twice — which might be the most-concerning part, as he’s been picked off twice in three of his last four starts (against Louisville and Virginia Tech, also).
Redshirt senior receiver Kendall Hinton said that the rough game didn’t disrupt Newman’s leadership.
“Really kept the guys’ heads up during and after the game. It was a rough game offensively, but it happens,” Hinton said of Newman. “Every game is not going to be perfect, and I thought he fought hard, did the best he can and now he’s getting ready for Duke.”
3. Humbling for backups
There can be a tendency for backup players to “think they’re big-time players,” Clawson said, and Saturday seemed to be an illustration of that.
“I think sometimes when you’re a two and a backup, you’re like, ‘I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.’ Well,” Clawson said, pointing toward the field where the demolition had just occurred, “no you didn’t. You weren’t ready to play. You didn’t get open. When the ball was thrown to you and you were open, you didn’t catch the ball. That’s what big-time players do.
“They’ll learn from it, and they’ll get better from it, and they have to get better from it because we still have two more games against good football teams.”
4. Start with almost all zeroes
Wake Forest’s new starting wide receivers, Steve Claude and Waydale Jones, didn’t record a catch. Neither did A.T. Perry, who entered early at one of those spots.
Freshman Donavon Greene, a Mount Airy graduate, had the only two catches of any wide receiver and they came on back-to-back plays for 12 yards at the end of the first half. On the next play, A.J. Terrell picked off a pass that was intended for Greene.
“We have who we have and we play who we play, and this was a short-term loss for a long-term game. Donavon Greene, Atorian Perry, Waydale Jones will all be better because of this game,” Clawson said. “And this was a tough way to open. I mean, if Scotty Washington and Sage Surratt and Kendall Hinton played their first game at receiver against Clemson, it probably wouldn’t have been pretty, either.”
5. Good(’s) moment
Positive plays can be few and far between in a 49-point loss, but walk-on safety Keegan Good recorded perhaps the signature moment in his career at the end of the third quarter.
The redshirt junior undercut a route to the sideline and intercepted Chase Brice’s throw.
“Just broke out. I was trying to get to the flats and I saw the receiver, he came out and I just got my eyes back and the ball was right there,” Good said. “It was pretty unbelievable, it was awesome being in this atmosphere and trying to make plays for the team.”