College football week 1 and we will see the Wake Forest Demon Deacons travel to Louisiana to take on the UL Monroe Warhawks. The game has a start time of 7:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN U. Current Vegas odds have the Warhawks listed as 2 point favorites, while the total is set at 45.
Analysis: The Wake Forest Demon Deacons did go bowling in 2011, but after last year’s 4-8 record they have now had 5 losing years in a row. Gone is longtime coach John Grobe and in steps Dave Clawson, who coached Bowling Green from 2009-13. 54 lettermen do return, but just 10 starters overall, so it may not be all that rosy in his first year. Wake Forest averaged just 18.3 ppg last year and 18.5 ppg back in 2012, and this year they must replace their QB, top rusher and top WR from a year ago, so this again looks like the weakest offense in the ACC. Tyler Cameron looks to have a hold on the QB spot, but watch out for Kevin Sousa, who may have more athletic ability than Cameron. The running game is a patchwork unit as players from the defense and WR corps are being plugged in to take over. Speaking of the WR corps, it returns no one that had more than 23 receptions last year. The defense will clearly be the strength of this team as they return 23 of 30 lettermen. The young DL turned allot of heads in spring and the secondary has a shot at being one of the better in the ACC.
The ULM Warhawks went 6-6 last year but didn’t receive a bowl bid even though they reached bowl eligibility. This year the Warhawks have 15 starters back and appear to be one of the better teams in the Sun Belt Conference. Kolton Browning is gone from the offense after another solid year and it looks as if Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas will take over. Pete has skills, as he was the #21 QB recruit when he came out of HS. Centarius Donald leads a less than stellar RB corps, while top WR Rashon Ceasar is back after having 964 receiving yards and 5 TDs last year. The defense is where this team will be very tough this year with 9 starters back, including NT Gerrand Johnson and LB Ray Stovall, who combined for 3 Sacks and 19 TFL last year. This should be a solid defense all the way around.
Pick: I will be going with the Warhawks in this one. They look to be the more experienced team, they are not going through a coaching change and the clearly have the better defense. Very hard to see an anemic Wake Forest offense putting up many points on the Warhawks in this one. The demon deacons have a new QB and just 5 starters back to an offense that was not all that good last year anyway. They could be the worst offense in the league again. The Warhawks are also going through a QB, but I rate Pete Thomas a bit better than Tyler Cameron, plus I give the Warhawks the edge at the skill positions and the OL. Too many advantages for the Wahawks in this one, especially since they are playing this game on their home field.
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