Deacons will be without Bates, Carney for Notre Dame trip
The injury luck ran out for Wake Forest on Saturday in more than just losing leading receiver Greg Dortch for the rest of the season.
Leading tackler Jessie Bates III and starting running back Cade Carney will both miss this weekend’s game at Notre Dame with injuries that coach Dave Clawson said will be evaluated “week-by-week.”
“We’ve been pretty lucky this year in terms of injuries and we took a couple of injuries on Saturday that, it’s part of football. Guys have to step up,” Clawson said.
Neither injury to Bates or Carney is thought to be season ending, but they’ll be missed at Notre Dame. Bates’ 64 tackles lead the Deacons, his 5.5 tackles for loss are the most among any member of the secondary and he’s broken up four passes — including one in the end zone on fourth down in the fourth quarter against Louisville to preserve a three-score lead.
Carney was injured on the Deacons’ opening drive and didn’t return. He’s fourth on the team with 219 rushing yards, but his impact can be seen by looking at Wake Forest’s previous game against Georgia Tech, when he churned out 70 first-half yards to help the Deacons to a 21-10 lead.
Redshirt freshman Luke Masterson will replace Bates at strong safety, while Matt Colburn II and Arkeem Byrd will become the two-headed attack in the Deacons’ backfield — though Byrd also exited Saturday’s game and did not return because of an upper-body injury.
“We’ll see how they heal and who knows. We won’t have them this week, but hopefully we’ll have them in a couple of weeks,” Clawson said of Bates and Carney. “I just don’t know yet. They don’t need surgery, they’re not season-ending and we’ll just play it week-by-week how those guys are.”
Given the emotional rollercoaster of finally knocking off one of the three teams that has consistently been atop the ACC’s Atlantic Division in dominant fashion, but losing three key players to injuries, it’s worth wondering about the state of the Deacons’ locker room.
“Obviously we’re happy about that win and we have a 24-hour rule … but we’re preparing for Notre Dame. And it’s really next-man up, that mentality. We built more depth here over the years with recruiting,” senior quarterback John Wolford said. “At any given moment, the next guy’s gotta be ready to play, so we’re confident, we’re confident in the guys that are going to have to step up.
“And their preparation is key, that’s going to be a part of the game.”
Like Dortch, who suffered an abdominal injury and needed surgery Saturday night, the injuries to Bates and Carney weren’t apparent. Carney played at least one more play after his injury, Wolford said, before coming out of the game because he didn’t feel right. Bates’ injury came late in the game, though he didn’t seem hobbled when he spoke with reporters afterward.
“If you look at the season on the whole, though, in terms of how banged up we are, we’re not — what is it, Week 8 or 9? You’re going to get some injuries. We just got a few all in the same week,” said Wolford, whose one-game absence was probably the most noteworthy injury of the season before this week. “If you look at the entirety of the season, we haven’t had too many major setbacks in that department. So that’s part of football and you’ve got to be ready for that.”