ACC previews: Wake Forest 0-2 going into tonight’s Campbell game

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 2, 2020

Associated Press

Entering today’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. This will be the Camels’ fourth game this fall against an FBS opponent. This is the first against a power-conference opponent.

“I told them: it’s the championship, it’s the bowl game, this is how the level goes up,” said Campbell coach Mike Minter, a former player with Nebraska and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

“I don’t care what the score is, I don’t care what happens. But I do not want us to lay down.”

No. 24 Pitt eyes 4-0 start against Wolfpack

North Carolina State (1-1, 1-1 ACC) faces No. 24 Pittsburgh (3-0, 2-0), Saturday at noon on the ACC Network.

The Pitt Panthers are looking for their first 4-0 start since 2000 as the defense has lived up to the preseason hype, overwhelming each of the first three opponents.

If the offense can find even a bit of consistency, Pitt should be in every game this season. The Wolfpack looked ill-prepared last week in a loss to a depleted Virginia Tech.

N.C. State: RB Ricky Person Jr. and Zonovan Knight have formed a strong 1-2 punch for the Wolfpack on the ground.  For Pitt, WR Jordan Addison is off to a white-hot start. He has 21 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns so far, showing flashes of both speed and toughness along the way. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple is finding ways to get Addison in space and Addison’s versatility and hands make him a tough cover.

N.C. State has lost four of five ACC road games by at least 18 points since the start of the 2019 season.

Hokies visit Blue Devils looking for 2-0 start

Virginia Tech won its first game without nearly two dozen players and even some coaches unavailable due to a combination of coronavirus and injury issues. The question is whether they’ll be shorthanded again when they play Saturday at Duke.

The Hokies (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat North Carolina State last weekend despite missing 23 players and two full-time coaches, including starting quarterback Hendon Hooker and defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton. That came days after coach Justin Fuente had wondered aloud whether his team would have enough players to even take on the Wolfpack.

Fuente said preparation must include ensuring both coaches and players are ready to take on multiple roles if needed due to an injury, positive COVID-19 test, quarantine or any other potential issue.

“There’s no guarantee that we’ll have a full complement of everybody coming into the next week,” Fuente said. “So it was nice for us to get to do it. It was nice for us to play well. Certainly I don’t want to make too much of it. There’s plenty of things that we’ve got to do better that other people on our schedule, starting with Duke, will highlight if we don’t get fixed.”

The Blue Devils have their own problems, though. Namely, turnovers.

Duke (0-3, 0-3) have lost 14 turnovers in three games, the most among all 72 Bowl Subdivision teams who have taken the field so far this season. The Blue Devils committed five turnovers in a home loss to Boston College on Sept. 19, then followed with seven turnovers – five coming on interceptions – in last weekend’s loss at Virginia.

The Blue Devils led that game 20-17 entering the fourth quarter, but had a run of four straight turnovers starting late in the third as the Cavaliers pushed ahead.

“There’s not a play on the practice field, not one play, that we’re not coaching ball security better,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. Obviously, it’s not been done well enough on my part. … You might not believe this, but we’re close. And so we’re certainly not going to lose hope, we’re not going to run from the challenge. We’re going to run to it.”