’23 Notre Dame Schedule Game Rankings #8: Irish Close Out Home Schedule Against Demon Deacons

New Notre Dame QB set to face former Wake teammates.

A Senior Day matchup against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons awaits the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Nov. 18. The matchup has only seen the teams face each other on five occasions, with Notre Dame coming away with a victory each time. In Wake’s last visit to the Golden Dome, the Irish won in a wild 48-37 shootout to notch their seventh straight win.

Demon Deacon head coach Dave Clawson is back for his 10th season at the school and has improved the team from a doormat to one that’s been bowl-bound the past seven seasons. He’s compiled a record of 59-53 and is coming off an 8-5 season that followed an 11-3 campaign the year before.

Wake Forest Offense: Plenty of Help Wanted and Needed

Putting points on the board wasn’t a problem for the Demon Deacons last year, but the man behind center aiding that cause was Sam Hartman, who should be behind center for the Irish in this clash. The player in line to replace Hartman is Mitch Griffis, who is a mobile quarterback and is comfortable in Clawson’s system but lacks the height at just five-feet-11.

In the backfield, another running back needs to step up to spell Justice Ellison, who led the team with 699 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Some of the top candidates to contribute figure to be Demond Claiborne and Will Towns, though both saw minimal action last year, running for a combined 128 yards on 26 carries.

Griffis will have notable options among the receiving corps, with the top targets expected to be wideouts Donavon Greene. Taylor Morin and Jamal Banks. Greene is the deep threat the Irish secondary needs to be wary of, while Morin is the top returning receiver for Wake with 47 grabs and nine touchdowns. Banks also grabbed nine touchdown passes and finished last year with 42 receptions.

On the line, plenty of replacements are needed, which may not be a bad thing. That’s because the Demon Deacons struggled to protect Hartman. Still, left guard Michael Jurgens is the best of the lot, with Nick Sharpe likely to man the other guard spot and Luke Petitbon expected to handle the center role. For the tackles, DeVonte Gordon and Spencer Clapp are the likely candidates to start.

Wake Forest Defense: Making Things Happen a Necessity for Demon Deacons

Putting heat on the passer and stopping the run were effective tools for Wake’s 2022 defense, but the team still allowed 28 points per game because of a drop in big plays. The line does have Jasheen Davis returning after he tied for the team lead in stops behind the line and also collected seven sacks. Inside, Villanova transfer Bryce Ganious hopes to clog things up, with help from fellow tackle Kevin Pointer.

Chase Jones is the top returnee at linebacker after 76 tackles that included six stops behind the line and two sacks. In addition, he recovered two fumbles, picked off one pass, knocked away another and also forced a fumble. Yet, the arrival of North Carolina A&T transfer Jacob Roberts is highly anticipated, with reserves offering plenty of speed but not much experience.

A need to take advantage of the Wake pass rush is a goal of the team’s secondary, with DaShawn Jones and Caelen Carson hoping to collect more turnovers. At free safety, Chelen Garnes had 71 tackles last year, a high number that you don’t want to see in the deep secondary. For the strong safety position, Malik Mustapha has the speed to get into enemy backfields after eight tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. Also, Evan Slocum is back to contribute as a nickel back.

Wake Forest Special Teams: Average Experience in Evidence

The Demon Deacon placekicking game has Matthew Dennis, who’s accurate but doesn’t possess a strong leg. While he’s handling that side, punting is the job of Ivan Mora, who averaged 40.8 yards per boot and also handled kickoffs. Returning kickoffs and possibly punts will be Ke’Shawn Williams, with Morin likely to see punt duty and Wll Towns being used on kickoffs.

The Last Time Notre Dame Played Wake Forest

Ian Book took over the starting quarterback job on September 22, 2018, when he ran for three touchdowns and threw for two more in Notre Dame’s 56-27 rout at Wake. Book replaced Brandon Wimbush and played a key role in the Irish rolling up 566 yards of offense on the afternoon. For the Demon Deacons, their freshman quarterback was limited to just 110 yards, though he made no mistakes. His name? Sam Hartman. A matchup in 2020 at Wake Forest was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Notre Dame program.

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