Opponent Preview – Week 6 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Clemson went up to central New York and finally played a really good, full game in getting a 17 point victory against the previously unbeaten Syracuse Orange.  A game that really never felt in doubt after quarterback Cade Klubnik found Troy Stelatto in the first quarter.  

While there was a costly fumble, the Tiger’s defense was stifling and the offense was productive the entire day.  A great performance by the Tigers and this week provides another test as Clemson welcomes in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  

Here is a look at everything you will need to know about the Tiger’s Week 5 Opponent:

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Location: Winston-Salem, NC

Time: 3:30 PM

2023 Record – 3-1  Last Game (9/23): Loss vs. Georgia Tech 30-16

3 Wins against: Old Dominion, Elon, Vanderbilt

Head Coach: Dave Clawson – 10th Season – 62-54 overall at Wake Forest

Coach Clawson is in his 10th season as the Head Coach of the Deacons.  He’s had a few up years and a few down years, but seemingly always puts a decent product on the field. One of the hottest names in college football when it comes to potential openings elsewhere, yet Clawson continues to be happy where he is, and has had unprecedented success compared to all of his predecessors in Winston-Salem.  He lost his quarterback, but this is a quality team he is bringing to Clemson on Saturday, after a bye week as well.


Offensive Coordinator: Warren Ruggiero – 10th year  as OC;  (Previous: OC Bowling Green 2009-13)

Ruggiero has had success against Clemson in the past.  It has not always translated to victories, but there have been numerous close calls.  Especially when he had quarterbacks like (current Notre Dame starter) Sam Hartman, Riley Skinner and John Wolford to name a few.  The mesh offense is one-of-a-kind and although it has a new signal caller this season, the offense is still humming along, although not cashing in when it comes to scoring points, currently 68th nationally in scoring offense.    

Wake Forest is averaging 29 points per game with 176.8 yards per game rushing and 249.8 through the air for an average of 426.6 yards of offense through 4 games.

Here is a look at the projected starters for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons as well as their 2023 statistics:

QuarterbackMitch GriffisRS Sophomore#1250 att. 166 yds76-127; 999 yds; 9 TDs, 6 Ints. 59.8% passing
Running BackDesmond ClaiborneSophomore#2363 att. 326 yds. 2 TDs2 catches, 13 yds
Running BackJustice EllisonJunior#644 att. 262 yds5 catches, 18 yds
Wide ReceiverJahmal Banks OR Wesley GrimesJunior/Sophomore#80;
24 catches 276 yds, 3 TDs;
10 catches, 199 yds. 2 TDs
Wide ReceiverTaylor MorinRS Junior#218 catches, 239 yds. 2 TDs
Wide ReceiverKe’Shawn WilliamsJunior#131 att. 7 yds12 catches, 161 yds, TD
Tight EndCameron HiteRS Junior#205 catches, 93 yds. TD
Left TackleSpencer ClappRS Senior#52
Left GuardMichael JurgensRS Senior#55
CenterLuke PetitbonSophomore#74
Right GuardMatt GulbinRS Sophomore#54
Right TackleDeVonte GordonRS Junior#62


Defensive Coordinator: Brad Lambert – 2nd Year – (Previous: Purdue, Marshall OC; HC – Charlotte)

Brad Lambert brings back his 4-2-5 base defense to the Deacons.  45th in the nation in total defense.  With those 5 DBs, the Deacs force a bunch of interceptions. 16 sacks through 4 games and an average of 4 a game will test the Clemson offensive line as well as Quarterback Cade Klubnik.   

The defense has given up an average of 22.8 points in their first four outings of 2023.  They have given up 109.5 yards per game on the ground and 229 yards through the air.  Opponents are averaging a total of 338.5 yards per game.

The Deacons are -2 in turnover margin through four weeks, having thrown 6 interceptions and also picking off 6 balls, as well as having caused 2 fumbles and have lost 4 fumbles in the four games so far.  

Here is a look at the projected starters for the Deacons on defense along with some stats from the season:

Defensive EndJasheen DavisJunior#3021 tackles, 6 TFL, 4.5 sacks
Defensive TackleKevin PointerRS Junior#9119 tackles, 3 TFL, 0.5 sack
Defensive TackleJustin WilliamsRS Junior#446 tackles, 0.5 TFL
Defensive EndKendron WaymanJunior#514 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks
LinebackerDylan HazenRS Sophomore#2127 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack
LinebackerJacob Roberts(NC A&T)Senior#4037 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5 sacks
CornerbackCaelen CarsonJunior#115 tackles
Strong SafetyMalik MustaphaJunior#319 tackles, 2 TFL, Int
NickelbackEvan SlocumJunior#1410 tackles, TFL, Int
Free SafetyChelen GarnesSenior#918 tackles, 0.5 TFL
CornerbackDeShawn JonesRS Sophomore#1010 tackles, 3 Int

Special Teams 

Here is a list of the specialists for the Demon Deacons along with statistics from the season so far:

KickerMatthew DennisRS Sophomore#999-10; long of 44 yds
PunterIvan MoraRS Junior#3615 att. 34.6 yd avg.; long of 48 yds
Punt ReturnerTaylor MorisRS Junior#28 att. 9.1 yd avg. long of 34 yds
Kick ReturnerKe’Shawn WilliamsJunior#136 att. 25.3 yd avg. long of 44 yds
Wake Forest Specialists


Wake Forest enters the year without their longtime starter at quarterback, having moved on to Notre Dame.  This is a new look Deacons team, however with Dave Clawson at the helm, you have to know that there will be some wrinkles on both sides of the ball.  

This is a team that Clemson should handle based on talent alone, however that’s not been so easy in 2023 thus far.  The Deacons schedule has been nothing special through four games, however, coming off of a bye week it could give Clemson fits early.  

Clemson finally plays someone with a worse turnover margin than them, but Wake has some ball hawks on the back end of the 4-2-5 and still need to take care of the ball to avoid the bugaboo that’s reared its head all too often in the early going to 2023.   

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