My Take On Wake: What speed can do for the Deacons

September 17, 2017 GMT

It’s a routine sight already to see Greg Dortch burn a defensive back, three games into his Wake Forest career. The redshirt freshman provides the Deacons with top-level speed in the slot, and his 14 catches for 179 yards are the best marks on the team. He’s responsible for half of the team’s eight touchdown receptions.

Fellow receiver Tabari Hines broke loose a few times in Saturday’s game against Utah State, to the point that he had 129 yards on five catches. He’s shown flashes in past years, and now the junior seems primed to provide another speedy option for quarterback John Wolford and offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero.

And now the Deacons know they can expect the same type of speed in the backfield. Arkeem Byrd has that speed.

“Yeah, we’ve got more explosive playmakers. Who? Tabari, Greg, Arkeem and those guys all made explosive plays,” coach Dave Clawson said after the 46-10 dismantling of Utah State. “We have a skill that has improved, we’ve gotten better and now we just have to keep doing it.”

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The development and growth of the Deacons’ offensive line probably remains the biggest factor in the offensive outburst.

But in making sure the offensive line’s improvement doesn’t get overlooked, the emergence of speedy playmakers like Dortch, Hines and Byrd can’t be overlooked in that process.

There’s something to be said for an offense that has one player who, when they get the ball in their hands, the stadium can collectively hold its breath. Dortch has the elusiveness and track-runner speed that elicits those moments. Hines has the same kind of speed. Byrd being able to provide those moments out of the backfield means this Wake Forest offense is still revealing ways it can score points.

This doesn’t change the fact that Wolford is turnover-free, healthier than he ever has been at this stage of the season. It doesn’t change that Cam Serigne is a reliable target, or that Cade Carney and Matt Colburn will get carries between the tackles and be trusted on passing downs.

What it does change for Wake Forest is that the Deacons have multiple ways they can score a bunch of points. Any offensive coordinator / play-caller / coach will tell you that’s the ultimate goal.

For a team that’s backbone has been and probably still is its defense, that only bodes well for these Deacons and the future teams to come.