Entering Friday’s game against Campbell, the Demon Deacons took a lopsided loss to top-ranked Clemson then fell in a shootout to instate foe North Carolina State. There was also the coronavirus-related postponement of last week’s scheduled game against No. 5 Notre Dame, creating an unplanned open date and prompting Wake Forest to reschedule its lone nonconference game to a week earlier.
The Demon Deacons are 0-2 for the first time under seventh-year coach Dave Clawson.
“For us, it was just two games,” Clawson said. “And the one game we couldn’t stop the pass game, and the other game we couldn’t stop the run game. So I don’t know how much we really know. Certainly some things stuck out that we have to get corrected.”
The Tigers passed for 376 yards followed by the Wolfpack running for 270 yards on Sept. 19. That left the Demon Deacons ranked 63rd out of 72 Bowl Subdivision teams to have played this season in total defense (512 yards per game) and scoring (41.0).
“There’s been a lot of looking in the mirror and really saying, ‘ What have I done? How have I prepared?’” linebacker Ryan Smenda Jr. said.
For the Camels (0-3), this ends a unique fall schedule for the Championship Subdivision program. When the Big South Conference delayed its season until the spring, the league permitted teams to play four games this fall and the program made itself available to Bowl Subdivision teams shuffling their schedules due to the pandemic.
This will be the Camels’ fourth game this fall against an FBS opponent, matching the number played in their modern history since the program started back up in 2008 after a nearly six-decade hiatus. This is the first against a power-conference opponent.
Minter said this fall’s opportunity builds the program’s brand and maybe leads to more FBS scheduling opportunities. He said the Camels don’t plan to play this spring.
Campbell is 0-7 against FBS teams, though it nearly beat Georgia Southern in the opener then played close with Appalachian State into the third quarter.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Minter said. “You’re talking about four games that really don’t count. So why not get your guys prepared for something later in the future that they’re going to have to experience? And you think about it: three national-televised games, nobody in the FCS is going to get that, right?”
Wake Forest sophomore running back Kenneth Walker III will look for a second straight big performance. He had 131 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in the loss to the Wolfpack.
Clawson is watching for young receivers like redshirt freshman Donavon Greene and redshirt sophomore A.T. Perry to improve on making tough, physical catches.
“We’ve given all of our guys chances to make plays on the perimeter,” Clawson said. “No. 1, we’ve got to throw it a little better. No. 2, when you have 1-on-1 throws, you’ve got to be able to make plays on those. You’ve got to be able to make contested catches. … And so our guys are learning to do that, and we’ll get better.”
Campbell has two former Wake Forest players in its starting lineup with cornerback Malik Grate and offensive tackle Mike Edwards.
Grate appeared in 11 games for the Demon Deacons in 2017 and 2018. Edwards was part of the program the past two seasons, redshirting in 2018 and missing last year due to injury.
The Demon Deacons found out four days before kickoff that the Notre Dame game was postponed. That’s why tight end Brandon Chapman is keeping a simple attitude while prepping each week.
“Me personally,” Chapman said, “I’m just glad we’re playing a season.”
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