3 takeaways from Wake Forest’s debut

Wake Forest opened the season with a 51-7 victory over Presbyterian, and the Deacons did their best not to reveal anything interesting to their next opponent, Boston College. By scoring on all six first-half possessions, Wake Forest made it easy on Dave Clawson and his staff.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some takeaways from the dominant win. Let’s take a look at a few:

Playmakers emerge

The Deacons have added two playmakers on offense: running back Arkeem Byrd and receiver/returner Greg Dortch. While both redshirt freshmen were expected to add some speed, it was nice to actually see it on the field.

Byrd ran seven times for 75 yards, but it was a 51-yard scamper that made folks take notice. Byrd might have gone for more had receiver Cortez Lewis not collided with him. The Deacons only had one run of more than 35 yards by a running back last season.

Dortch caught four passes for 55 yards and two scores, and he returned four punts for 76 yards. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown that was called back because of a holding penalty.

Byrd is not a big surprise, although he had battled nagging injuries since arriving at Wake Forest. He had offers from Minnesota, Georgia Tech and Missouri, among others. When he committed to the Deacons, his prep coach Tim Adams said: “Arkeem gives you that unique ability to score anytime he touches the ball from anywhere on the field.”

Dortch, however, was not highly recruited. He’s small (5-8, 165 when recruited) and didn’t post a great 40 time at an early scouting combine. He was mostly recruited by Big South and CAA programs, although Maryland came on late. But Clawson has been singing Dortch’s praise since he arrived, saying several times that he made so many “wow” plays in practice that Clawson had to keep debating whether to keep him redshirted.

While the Deacons liked what they saw from Dortch in the slot against Presbyterian, his returns could be a much more important factor this season. Wake Forest has been at the bottom of the ACC for nine straight seasons in both kick and punt returns.

Picking up the pace

Speaking of fast, the Deacons continued their spring trend of trying to play at a quicker tempo. There was much less time spent with the quarterback staring at the sideline waiting for a play. This decision to force the pace also may have factored into Clawson’s decision to start the veteran John Wolford at quarterback.

QB battle continues

While Wolford didn’t do anything to lose the starting quarterback job, Kendall Hinton showed exactly why he might be the better long-term choice.

Wolford was 11 of 15 for three touchdowns, and he ran six times for 47 yards. His decision-making was strong, other than a forced pass into coverage near the goal line.

Hear it: Dave Clawson says his goal is to win the conference.