Demon Deacons face major hurdle in Seminoles

After starting the season with two wins in four potentially winnable games, the Deacons now look down the barrel of their ACC schedule, starting with a Florida State team that’s beaten them by an average of 49.3 points over the last three seasons. While many issues contributed to Wake only winning two of their first four, perhaps none was more important than their inability to force even one turnover.

In fact, perhaps it’s a shock that the Deacons even won two games while losing the turnover battle 7-0.

“If that trend continues, there’s not going to be a lot of happy Saturdays,” Clawson said. “That’s a very difficult number to overcome, and I don’t know if there’s anything in our program right now more important — especially this week — than winning the turnover battle.”

Even during last season’s struggles, the Deacons forced 19 turnovers. While four of their six interceptions came from now-graduated Merrill Noel and Kevin Johnson, every player who forced a fumble is back, as well as six of the eight players who recovered fumbles.

So while the secondary may be less experienced, veteran players like Brandon Chubb, Ryan Janvion, Wendell Dunn and Tylor Harris aren’t making the impact they have in the past. Another issue is lack of pressure on the quarterback, which can cause the chaos that leads to turnovers. The Deacons only have four sacks and six quarterback hurries in the first four games.

Against Indiana, Janvion and Zach Dancel failed to come up with possible interceptions.

“We let two go today,” linebacker Brandon Chubb said. “”We should have had two interceptions today. We just have to keep going for the ball. The reason other teams have turnovers and we don’t, it’s because when they get those opportunities they capitalize on it. We haven’t capitalized on any. And like I said we had two in our hands today that we just dropped.

“I think when we get one, we’ll get rolling. It will be kind of the icebreaker. But we need to get turnovers.”

When Jim Grobe turned the program around 10 years ago, he did it on the strength of a play-making defense, led by Alphonso Smith, the ACC’s career leader in interceptions. From 2003-2008, the Deacons scored 26 touchdowns on interceptions and fumble recoveries. In 2007 and 2008, Wake Forest had an incredible 72 takeaways.

The Deacons will be underdogs the rest of the season, and if they’re going to break through, they’ll need to figure out a way to change the turnover story.