On Saturday’s match-up against No. 20 Notre Dame (7-3), Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson has a heavy heart. When he watches the tape, he sees former Demon Deacon quarterback Sam Hartman, who transferred to the Fighting Irish in the offseason. The Wake Forest offense was prolific in Hartman’s hands, scoring 41.0 points per game (4th out of 130 FBS teams) in 2021 and winning the division title in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the league championship game. He left as the program’s career passing leader with 12,967 yards and 110 touchdowns. Without him, the Demon Deacons (4-6) have shown a noticeable decline. They are 1-6 in the ACC and have lost their last three games.
Hartman started the season off strong, but his performance has since decreased. Notre Dame’s three losses this season were to Ohio State, Clemson and Louisville, all of which have top-20 defenses. Wake Forest’s defense isn’t as strong, giving up an average of 372.2 yards (65th). This presents an opportunity for them.
The Demon Deacons’ have struggled offensively, averaging 20.5 points (T-112th) and 331.7 yards (103rd). They have failed to score more than 21 points in an ACC game this season. Hartman’s departure has likely contributed to the decline in offensive production.
After starting replacement Mitch Griffis struggled, Clawson has made a permanent change to redshirt junior Michael Kern at quarterback. The Irish will honor a group of 31 seniors, including Hartman, before the game on Saturday. The Irish limit opponents to 16.9 points per game (12th) and just 280.4 yards of offense (7th).
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll