WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest head football coach Dave Clawson led the Demon Deacons through their first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday afternoon at BB&T Field. The Deacon scrimmaged for 1:45 on a beautiful spring day with the offense scoring 22 points.
The offense tallied on five field goals and one touchdown during the scrimmage. Redshirt junior kicker Chad Hedlund booted field goals of 32, 41 and 29 yards while redshirt freshman Mike Weaver connected from 40 and 38 yards.
Redshirt sophomore running back Dominique Gibson scored on a 25-yard run for the lone touchdown on the afternoon.
"Overall, I thought the defense outperformed the offense but the offense made it easy for them," said Clawson. "Offensively, it looked like a first scrimmage in a new offense. We had snap count issues, we had clock issues. It was just sloppy. It was scrimmage number one. This is our starting point. It is not so much where we are now but with every step from today on, that we get better. We have a lot of work to do but we'll do it."
Gibson led the offense with 35 rushing yards on eight carries while quarterback Kevin Sousa gained 33 yards on the ground in nine attempts. James Ward had the most carries on the day with 13 and finished with 22 yards on the ground. Orville Reynolds added 15 yards on nine carries.
Clawson entered the scrimmage expecting the offense to be a work in progress.
"It's the first time these guys have run plays in a non-controlled environment," Clawson said. "You expect it. We've put a lot in in a short amount of time. You can tell they're still processing things. They're not playing as fast as they need to."
Wake Forest used three quarterbacks in the scrimmage with redshirt sophomore Tyler Cameron and Sousa, a redshirt junior, splitting most of the time. Cameron completed 10 of 26 passes for 55 yards while Sousa was 10-for-20 for 108 yards. Walk-on Pat Long completed three of seven passes for 20 yards.
"Our offensive installation is a lot slower than our defensive installation," said Clawson. "That's where we're at numbers-wise. At almost every critical offensive skill position, you've got guys who haven't played before. You've got new quarterbacks, new tailbacks, new receivers, new tight ends. It's a new offense. It's not like these guys have a lot of game experience. Even the offensive line, those guys played together a little bit as freshmen. It's a very young group. I think it was nine sophomores out there when the first offense took the field."
Sophomore John Armstrong led all receivers with five receptions for 32 yards. Fifth-year transfer E.J. Scott caught three passes for 18 yards while redshirt sophomore Jared Crump had three receptions for 14 yards. Senior Brandon Terry led all receivers with 52 yards receiving on two catches including a 46-yarder from Sousa that was the longest completion of the afternoon.
"If we played a game next Saturday, we'd be in trouble," Clawson said. "We've got 4.5 months to prepare for a game. This is the first time Tyler Cameron has gotten a rep in a scrimmage. I think he found out today scrimmages are different than practices. For Kevin Sousa, this was the first time he's gotten meaningful reps as a quarterback."
The defense was led by redshirt sophomore defensive end Shelldon Lewinson who had seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. Redshirt freshman Duke Ejiofor added six tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Josh Okonye and Hunter Williams each recorded an interception for the defense. Redshirt freshman Wendell Dunn led all defenders with 1.5 sacks to go along with 2.5 tackles for loss and five total stops.
"Defensively, we're further along," said Clawson. "You've got two senior corners, a sophomore safety who started a year ago, a junior linebacker who started. There's a lot more experience at those positions. Defense is a lot more about reacting and offense is more about processing. Most places I've been the defense is ahead of the offense and that's where we are right now."
The coaching staff will start meeting on Monday to review the film and plan next week's practices which are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday at 5:15 p.m. at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex.
"We'll meet Monday, watch the film and grade every player on every play," said Clawson. "I will meet with the offensive staff and we'll talk about the performance of every offensive player. We'll do the same with the defensive staff and special teams. You start seeing which guys keep stepping up. I wouldn't expect a lot of drastic changes between now and next week. We're getting a feel of which guys take to coaching. The whole progression is you teach on the board, you go out to practice, you teach individually and as a group. The hardest thing for a football player is to take all that information and put it out in a scrimmage or game situation. We'll see after today who does that the best."
Wake Forest's annual Spring Game is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, April 26 at BB&T Field