Wake Forest motored through five spring football practices and headed into spring break.
That wasn’t even a month ago. Oh, how things have changed.
The Deacons’ practice slate has been canceled, along with all spring competitions, because of the league’s measures to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Last week, Coach Dave Clawson said on a conference call that it was “too early to tell” if the season will begin on time — Wake Forest’s opener is Sept. 4 at Old Dominion.
Whenever the Deacons do resume, they’ll have five spring practices instead of 15 to build on.
Here are some notes from what happened when the Deacons were practicing:
Donavon Greene’s eventful first few practices
The redshirt freshman from Mount Airy had as eventful as the first two weeks of spring practice can be.
Greene struggled in the first couple of practices with drops. His frustration reached a boiling point with a punch of a garage door in the indoor practice facility during the second practice.
“I just feel like maybe I wasn’t as focused as I needed to be," Greene said. "And (wide receivers) Coach (Kevin Higgins) talked to me about it and I finally got over the hump and focused up and had a good practice. It just felt like it wasn’t me. To be a receiver in college, your job is to catch, and you’re like, ‘I’ve gotta fix something.’”
In the same practice that his emotions got the best of him, he bounced back with a couple of contested catches along the sideline, and the third and fourth practices saw Greene display the same reliable hands and big-play capability that flashed at the end of the season.
“He responded well. It was good, he was upset about it, it bothered him,” Clawson said. “He made some plays the last four games of the season, but he’s still a redshirt freshman. To do it and play at a high level is different than making a few plays in two games.
“He certainly can be, I think, an outstanding player. He got to play a little bit last year and had flashes of brilliance.”
Greene sat out the last practice with soreness.
As strong as Greene’s final four games were, it was a whirlwind of the end of the season that didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts. The first two catches of his career came on back-to-back plays at Clemson, and then the third play saw A.J. Terrell ride Greene out of bounds and pick off Jamie Newman’s pass.
“Personally, I think I needed more preparation,” Greene said when asked if he was ready to be on the field that November day against Clemson. “But it was my time to actually showcase what I was made of.”
Eventually, he did. Now the Deacons will need him to do so in more than a four-game window.
Spencer Clapp down
In Wake Forest’s second practice of the spring, offensive lineman Spencer Clapp went down with a knee injury and had to be helped off the field.
The following week, it was thought that the redshirt junior suffered a season-ending injury.
“Yes, that might unfortunately be a season-ender," Clawson said. "We might lose him for the year. That’s what it looks like at this point."
Clapp had been in the mix to fill one of the starting tackle positions. He worked with the first-team offense at left tackle and right tackle before the injury. It’s been an injury-riddled career for Clapp at Wake Forest; he was limited in availability during his redshirt season in 2017 and missed most of the 2018 season because of an injury suffered during Belk Bowl preparation.
More press coverage for cornerbacks
Cornerback was an all-hands-on-deck position entering spring, Clawson said, and that much won’t change between now and whenever the Deacons resume.
As tough as it is to discern much from the first five practices — only three of which were in full pads — there was one noticeable difference for Wake Forest’s cornerbacks.
The Deacons played press coverage on the outside.
“We’ve been working some press, which is amazing,” senior Ja’Sir Taylor said.
Wake Forest hasn’t played much press coverage in recent seasons other than on third down; it was an option at times, but rarely deployed. New cornerbacks coach Paul Williams made a point to implement it early — an aspect appreciated by Taylor.
“The last couple of years, we were trying to get some press in, but we would do it too late,” Taylor said. “Like, maybe in the fall, teach a whole new technique and it just wasn’t clicking enough, we didn’t have the trust to do it in the game.
“When you look at a corner, that’s what you see. A nice, gritty, in-your-face type of guy. We need to be gnats and bug these receivers, we make it too easy and then when we’re up in their face, they don’t like that. So that’s a good switch-up.”
Another note on Wake Forest’s cornerbacks: They’re still going to be the #BermudaBoyz.
That name won’t leave with the graduations of Essang Bassey and Amari Henderson, two of the three cornerbacks who last year coined the term for the position group. It’s up to Taylor to carry on the name, he said, which is most noticeable when Wake Forest’s cornerbacks make a play and celebrate with a thumbs-down signal.
“I’ve gotta get everybody right. There won’t be a Bermuda Boyz if everybody is not doing what they’ve gotta do, I’m not about to be by myself,” Taylor said. “We’ve gotta bring up other people. I’m gonna keep it along, people will step up. It’ll still be the Bermuda Boyz.
“We had people here, they’ve been around the Bermuda Boyz, they know what to expect. It’s not new to everybody.”