Wake Me Up When 2

By John Turner
Sep. 11, 2020

The year 2020 is like a really bad gift from a friend…nothing good can possibly come from it. The good news is, we are only 3 and a half months away from 2021! The ACC, SEC and Big 12 said sure we will play this season! The Pac12 and Big 10 said nah. Considering their lack of participation and record in the College Football Playoffs, will anybody really miss them? Clemson was supposed to start their 125th year of football down in Hotlanta vs Tech. But, like most things in 2020, it had to be adjusted so we head north instead to Winston-Salem (the big Cig) to battle the Wake Forest Demon Deacons! Truist Field (the artist formerly known as Groves Stadium) has always been a unique environment for Clemson fans who are used to mammoth stadiums and crowd noise that could drown out a Kiss concert. College Gameday will be there, which is good cause they will be the only people in the stadium. How very odd but it’s football so I’ll take it! A new season always brings about lots of changes so away we go!!!

The Deacs offense will look quite different in 2020. Gone are Jamie Newman, Sage Surratt, Cade Carney, Justin Herron and all of the leading receivers from an offense that was very productive both in the run and pass game. QB Sam Hartman is healthy again after showing what he could do in 2018. Four returning linemen is also a positive, but this is where a lot of questions arise. Junior tailback Christian Beal-Smith will get the lions share of the carries. The receiving corp is talented but very young. Not a good thing when your first opponent is Clemson. The Tigers lost some great defensive players but Dabo is like a man at the shootin’ range. He just reloads and goes again. Derion Kendrick and Nolan Turner are familiar names to Tiger fans but get used to Lannden Zanders, Andrew Booth and Fred Davis. No worries there and I feel really good about the D-Line with Foster, Davis, Pinckney and Henry. True Freshman Bryan Bresee will play a lot and if the reports are true, Sam Hartman will get an upclose and quite personal “howdy” somewhere in the Deacon backfield. My big concern is at linebacker. Skalski is back but he’s suspended for the first half (targeting call vs LSU). Mike Jones, Spector and the Venables boys will get better as the season progresses. I wonder what it’s like to play for your dad when he has his own “get back” guy. No thank you. LOL. Advantage Clemson.

So many talking heads (who I loathe) are talking about the Heisman for Trevor and record breaking numbers. Like a state trooper, I say slow your roll. Here’s the list of guys who exited stage left; Justyn Ross (injury), Tee Higgins, John Simpson, Sean Pollard, Gage Cervenka and Tremayne Anchrum. The pushback is “have you heard about this 4 star and that 5 star”? Sure I have, but I’m also old enough to know that stuff doesn’t mean a whole lot at this level of football. Receiver Amari Rodgers will be Trevor’s go to guy but guys like Joseph Ngata, Frank Ladson, Cornell Powell and Canadian Ajou Ajou need to step up big time. This means the running game is crucial and Clemson has tailbacks all over the place. Our 3rd string guy, Darien Rencher, would start for most college teams in the country. Having said that, I really think Coach Elliott is going to use TE Braden Galloway a lot more than in year’s past to keep the linebackers from just teeing off on Trevor. What I’m most excited about is the debut of QB D.J. Uiagalelei. Say it three times really fast…if you can say it at all. LOL. Say it with me…Ooh-Wee-Angah-Le-Lay. Piece of cake. I see Clemson getting off to a slow start but eventually the wheels will get rolling. Advantage Clemson.

For the first time is years, I have zero worries about our special teams. B.T. Potter has improved and Will Spiers became more consistent as the season went on. Our kickoff and punt return game should be better with Kendrick and Ngata doing the honors. Wake Forest counters with FG kicker Nick Sciba who’s very good. The Deacs have to break in a freshman at punter in Ivan Mora. Welcome to big boy football youngster…here come the defending ACC Champs. Good luck with all that. Advantage Clemson.

Clemson hasn’t lost to the Demon Deacons since 2008. Yes really. It’s been so long I now have less hair, more weight, poor hearing and my kid is now in college. Jeez. The last time Clemson did lose to Wake, it was in Winston-Salem in a bizarre circumstance. Saturday will be weird but not that weird. Vegas has the line at 34 while the under sits at 60.5. I’m going no to the first and yes to the second. The Tigers look at the big picture while Wake can see the Forest for the trees. See what I did there? ;-) Clemson makes it a dozen over the Deacs 47-17.