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Scouting Wake Forest

Wake Forest has already exceeded expectations this season at just past the halfway point.

The Demon Deacons are 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the ACC, and feature an explosive offense. NC State travels to Wake Forest for a 12 p.m. start on Saturday, and playing at Winston-Salem, N.C., has proven a difficult task this century for the Wolfpack.

Here is a full scouting report on Wake Forest.

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Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman could play against NC State.
Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman could play against NC State. (James Guilliroy/USAToday)

Five Wake Forest Players To Watch

Redshirt junior defensive end Carlos Basham Jr. — He combines great size and athleticism at 6-5 and 275 pounds. He is fourth on the squad with 32 tackles, plus has 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries. Basham had five tackles and 2.5 sacks against UNC Sept. 13, which helped him win ACC Defensive Line Player of the Week.

Sophomore strong safety Nasir Greer — The 6-0, 200-pound Greer is second on the team with 44 tackles, plus he has forced two fumbles. He had an interception against Louisville. He will likely become busier with fifth-year senior linebacker Justin Strand and his 69 tackles out for the season due to injury. Greer, who is in his first year as a starter, has 85 career tackles and two interceptions.

Fifth-year senior left tackle Justin Herron — The 6-5, 290-pound Herron missed last year after suffering a torn ACL in the season opener against Tulane. He was third-team All-ACC in 2017 and has 45 career starters. The co-captain made the watch lists for Outland Trophy and Senior Bowl.

Sophomore kicker Nick Sciba — It’s hard to improve on perfection, but then Sciba hasn’t tried any field goals past 34 yards this year. He’s gone 12 of 12 on field goals, made all 31 extra points and also has 11 touchbacks on 46 kickoffs. Sciba made 19 of 22 field goals last year with a long of 49, and he made all 50 extra points.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Sage Surratt — The 6-3, 215-pound Surratt has been named the ACC Wide Receiver of the Week four times this season. He has caught 53 passes for 881 yards and nine touchdowns in just seven games. He erupted for 12 catches for 196 yards and three touchdowns against Louisville Oct. 12. Surratt also has returned 10 punts for 9.3 yards per return, with a long of 25.

What To Watch From Wake Forest

1. Handle whoever plays quarterback. NC State offered Wake Forest redshirt junior quarterback Jamie Newman when he was at Graham (N.C.) High, but not sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman, who first made his name at Davidson (N.C.) Day. NCSU also offered fifth-year senior Kendall Hinton at Southern Durham High, who is now a successful slot receiver for the Demon Deacons after playing quarterback earlier in his WFU career.

Hartman started the first nine games last year, but got injured and Newman made his starting debut against NC State. He passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns in Wake’s upset win. Newman has thrown for more than 300 yards in three games this season, aftre doing it once last year. If he is healthy, he will start against the Wolfpack.

2. Breaking in new Buck linebacker. Fifth-year senior Justin Strnad was off to a strong start for the Demon Deacons at Buck linebacker, but then suffered a season-ending arm injury two weeks ago. Strnad was leading WFU in tackles with 69, plus had 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He has 25 more tackles than the next Wake Forest defender.

Redshirt junior Ja’Cquez Williams is slotted to take over for Strnad, and has some experience. The 6-2, 220-pounder has 22 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble this season. NC State will surely test him in the ground game.

3. Veteran corners make life tough. Fifth-year senior cornerback Amari Henderson, who played for Charlotte Mallard Creek, and senior Essang Bassey are both proven veteran performers.

Bassey is tied for fifth on the team with 29 tackles, and has one interception and six passes broken up. Henderson has added 23 tackles, two picks and five passes broken up. Henderson and Bassey will likely battle NC State outside receivers Emeka Emezie, a junior, and Devin Carter, a redshirt freshman.

Three Keys To The Game

1. NC State cornerbacks ready for challenge. NC State redshirt freshman Malik Dunlap and sophomore De’Von Graves weren’t expecting to start at this point in the season, but that is what happens when four cornerbacks get injured.

NCSU is playing without senior Nick McCloud, junior Chris Ingram, sophomore Teshaun Smith and redshirt freshman Taiyon Palmer. All but McCloud have been ruled out for the rest of the season. Graves made the move from safety two weeks ago to help fill the void. Add in senior Kishawn Miller and three will be battling Wake Forest’s crew of talented receivers.

NCSU knew what was coming with the Boston College running game, and a similar scenario could happen with Wake Forest’s wide receivers Sage Surratt, Scotty Washington and converted quarterback Kendall Hinton.

2. Bend but don’t break. Florida State allowed five field goals from less than 27 yards in Wake Forest’s 22-20 victory before the bye week. NC State will aim for similar success in the red zone, where the Demon Deacons’ lone touchdown was Cade Carney's two-yard scoring run.

NC State opponents have converted 18 of 22 (81.8 percent) red-zone opportunities, and 12 of the scores were touchdowns (54.5 percent). The Wolfpack won’t likely win a shootout with the Demon Deacons, but if it turns into a field goal kicking contest, sophomore Christopher Dunn is right there with WFU’s Nick Skiba. Dunn has made 14 of 17 field goal tries this season.

3. Create turnovers. It seems to be a tall task in light of the injuries in the secondary, but NC State has two interceptions from the injured Ingram and one from freshman linebacker Drake Thomas. Add in just two fumble recoveries and it’s a sore sport in all likelihood for NC State head coach Dave Doeren, who heavily emphasized creating turnovers last offseason.

Conversely, the one-two punch of Jamie Newman and Sam Hartman have thrown just five interceptions in 267 passing attempts. WFU has fumbled 11 times this season, but only lost two of them. NC State will need a big early break to gain some momentum.

Three Wake Forest Numbers Of Note

28 Penalties through seven games for Wake Forest, which ranks second fewest in the country. WFU is also second in the Football Bowl Subdivision in fewest penalty yards (235).

50.0 Percent third-down conversion rate achieved by Wake Forest’s offense. The Demon Deacons are 62 of 124 on third downs, which ranks first in the ACC and ninth in the nation.

300 Passing yards in a game, which Wake Forest has achieved in five contests this season.

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