by Brandon Blakney
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons recently conducted a private 90 minute scrimmage in front of media and select fans over the weekend. The scrimmage served as a final dress rehearsal to iron out the final kinks before their August 30th, opener at Tulane.
A number of starting positions have been filled but there is still a key positional battle to monitor at quarterback. Wake also got another good look at their depth on the line and young talent at the skills positions during the controlled scrimmage. After consecutive bowl wins the past two seasons this program is coming into 2018 with big expectations!
1. Sam Hartman and Jamie Newman both showed flashes
Freshman Sam Hartman got majority of the early first team reps and he remained poised in the pocket. Hartman completed 16/25 passes and tossed out one touchdown. Hartman went through progressions and completed checkdowns, he allowed these skill guys to make plays.
Redshirt sophomore Jamie Newman had a less productive day through the air he completed 13/17 passes for 70 yards. Newman also provided one of the most exciting plays on the ground when he broke for a 56- yard touchdown on a third- and- two situation. Newman adds a different dynamic to this offense with his legs, he was also accurate through the air although majority of the completions resulted in minimal gains.
Redshirt Freshman Tayvon Bowers also saw limited action, coming off an ACL injury. The highly touted dual threat looked healthy and confident operating the read option.
Head Coach Dave Clawson spoke on the poise of his signal callers after the scrimmage.
“No question, when you get in this atmosphere things feel a lot more rushed, In our practices, we don’t always go all tempo and today was all tempo.” Clawson said.
“The challenge of playing quarterback in our offense is the ability to do that for 60 minutes, 80 to 90 plays, and make all those decisions as quick as you have to make them in our offense. I think they both did some good things.”
Both Hartman and Newman will battle it out for the first few games before a clear starter is decided, the job is up for grabs and now one of these signal callers will have to take it.
2. Kendall Hinton at Receiver
Presumed starting signal caller Kendall Hinton is suspended the first three games of this season, but that didn’t exclude the redshirt junior from participating in this scrimmage. It wasn’t his presence that stood out but more of where he was positioned, Hinton spent the day lined up at wideout and the move could be permanent. It’s no secret that Hinton is an electrifying athlete capable of making the transition, Hinton fit right in with the bunch but it will take time and repetitions to master a new position.
The Deacs also return leading receiver redshirt junior Scotty Washington, senior Alex Bachman and promising redshirt freshman Sage Surratt. This group will boast experience and upside, they should be a solid core for the black and gold.
3. The backs looked explosive
This group could be the strongest of any position, there is a nice blend of depth and versatility all four backs offer a different element.
Freshman Courtney McKinney stole the show with a breakout 41- yard touchdown run, McKinney looked explosive and showed patience he waited for this experienced line to open up holes. McKinney has nice size and possesses the speed to go the distance.
Wake will also return junior Cade Carney he carried the ball 10 times for 79 yards, Carney is a utility back his versatility is a big asset to this offense. Carney runs with power and he may be the best blocker of the bunch, he could also be a safety blanket in checkdown situations.
Redshirt freshman Christian Beal should see his share of touches this season. Beal has a nice combination of burst and elusiveness. Beal is tough to tackle in the open field, he was also effective in the passing game during the scrimmage.
Lead back senior Matt Colburn will lead this deep backfield for the black and gold, last season he totaled 904 yards on 145 carries. Colburn also scored six touchdowns and he will come into his senior season as one of the top backs in the ACC. Colburn was named to the Doak Walker watch list last month he has a good chance to break a 1,000 yards this season.