The first scrimmage of fall camp for Wake Forest produced an atmosphere that, among other things, allowed Coach Dave Clawson to evaluate the candidates — Jamie Newman and Sam Hartman — to be the Deacons’ starting quarterback.
“I think no question that when you get in this atmosphere, things feel a lot more rushed. Our practices, we don’t always go all tempo. And (Saturday night) was all tempo,” Clawson said. “The challenge of playing quarterback in our offense is the ability to do that 60 minutes, 80 to 90 plays and make all of those decisions as quick as you have to make them in our offense.
“I think they both did some good things, but I think they both had a little bit of mental fatigue. I don’t know if either of them is ready to do it for 85, 90 snaps.”
Hartman attempted and completed more throws, going 16 for 25 for 129 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 25 yards on 13 carries, taking six sacks — though the quarterbacks were down by contact. Newman completed 13-of-17 passes for 70 yards and ran for 47 yards on nine carries, breaking a 56-yard touchdown run.
“It felt great, it felt great to get out here live without the coaches behind you like it is in practice. It felt good, felt like a good game situation,” Newman said. “O-line did real great protecting today, receivers did a great job making plays. Also we’ve got some corrections to make in the QB room, and everywhere on offense, so it’s a good learning experience.”
This was the first of two scheduled full scrimmages for the Deacons in fall camp. The other is set for next Saturday night.
Clawson called it the most-balanced scrimmage he’s seen in his time at Wake Forest — he’s entering his fifth season. Defensive standouts included DJ Taylor, who started at linebacker and had six tackles, one sack and one pass broken up, and reserve defensive end Manny Walker, who had two sacks — one was a strip-sack on which he recovered the fumble.
“We had three years that the defense dominated, we had last year that the offense would dominate, and this I thought was really good back and forth,” Clawson said. “You didn’t walk out of this saying one side of the ball was better than the other.”
The Deacons were shorthanded, some of them precautionary for players who haven’t missed a practice yet.
One that falls into that category is standout receiver Greg Dortch. But Clawson said if this had been a game, Dortch would have played.
The first touchdown of the scrimmage came on a 41-yard run by freshman running back Courtney McKinney.
He had eight carries for 79 yards, which was tied for the most of the night with junior running back Cade Carney.
Newman’s 56-yard touchdown came on a third-and-2, when he called his own number on a read-option.
Hartman connected for the only passing touchdown of the night, a 5-yard strike to fellow freshman A.T. Perry.
It came on a third-and-2 and was only a touchdown after Perry stretched the ball across the goal line as he was being pulled down by the defender.
One of Newman’s four incompletions was a drop by Sage Surratt that almost assuredly would have been a touchdown.
“Ah, it’s just one of those ones, hey, it happens. We learn from it. Me and Sage have great chemistry; I know he’s going to make those catches every day, so it just happens,” Newman said. “Sage Surratt, he came out here and made some great plays, he looked good.”
In the kicking battle, Nick Sciba drilled a 49-yard field goal for the last points of the night. That was after he connected on his only other attempt, from 32 yards. Zach Murphy made a 28-yard field goal, but missed wide right from 37 yards.
“I was really happy with the extra-point, field-goal team,” Clawson said. “You lose an all-conference kicker like Mike Weaver and that’s a concern, and I thought both of those kids kicked the ball well.”
One bit of news came before the scrimmage. Reserve tight end Thomas Cole, a redshirt sophomore from Wellsburg, W.V., has been dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules.
It’s the second announced violation of team rules in less than two months for Cole, who was initially suspended for the first three games because of a violation of team rules announced in June.