Wake experiences most successful stretch ever under Clawson

Wake Forest Head Coach Dave Clawson

Wake experiences most successful stretch ever under Clawson
April 09
02:35 2020

Since head coach Dave Clawson arrived in Winston-Salem, the Wake Forest football team has experienced the most successful stretch in program history while also rewriting the record book.

Upon being hired on Dec. 10, 2013, Clawson set out to build the Demon Deacons into the top program in North Carolina and compete for championships. Over the last four seasons, the Deacs have made four bowl appearances including Military, Belk and Birmingham Bowl victories.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Wake Forest is tied for the second-most wins in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In those three seasons, the Deacs have set over 300 school records including marks for points scored, total offensive yards, first downs and passing yards.

Clawson has also helped train 50 All-ACC selections including a school record 14 selections all-conference in 2019. Wake capped off the 2019 season with its eighth Big 4 Championship with victories over Duke, North Carolina and NC State.

In his 20 years as a head coach, Coach Clawson has had a history of turning programs into winners. He is the only FBS head coach to have Division-I conference championships in four different leagues. He was the Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and was awarded the 2005 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year award in just his second year in the league. The 2007 CAA Coach of the Year award marked his fourth conference Coach of the Year honor in his first nine years as a head coach. On top of that, Clawson earned Schutt Sports/American Football Monthly I-AA Coach of the Year in 2002 and National Coach of the Year from in 2005.

The first six years of Clawson’s tenure in Winston-Salem produced steady growth and improvement. Starting in 2016 the Deacons turned a corner, unveiling a high-powered offense that powered Wake Forest to its first bowl game in five years. Since then, the Demon Deacons have continued to improve, winning eight or more games twice in the last three years and moving toward Clawson’s goal.

The 2019 season produced a number of firsts in school history: a record fourth consecutive bowl invitation, a record 14 players named to the All-ACC team, and a record-tying seven consecutive wins. Wake Forest almost entered the second week of November with a 7-1 record and a No. 19 ranking from the College Football Playoff. Wake Forest’s fourth consecutive bowl invitation was to the 2019 New Era Pinstripe Bowl in venerable Yankee Stadium. 

With wins over North Carolina, NC State and Duke, the Deacons claimed the Big Four championship for the first time since 2007 while setting a school record for home wins in a season. A program record 14 players were named to the All-ACC team and the Deacons were awarded 12 ACC Player of the Week honors. 

The team broke or tied 100 NCAA, ACC and school records in finishing 15th in the nation in total offense, while the defense gained the second-most turnovers in the last 11 seasons.

In 2018, Clawson established himself with more wins through his first five seasons than any other coach in school history. Wake Forest boasted a 1,000-yard rusher in Cade Carney and a 1,000-yard receiver in Greg Dortch, marking the first time since 1979 a Deacon team had accomplished that feat. That season marked Wake Forest’s third consecutive bowl invitation despite breaking in two first-year starting quarterbacks. Clawson maintained a steady hand at the controls as the Demon Deacons navigated a dozen season-ending injuries to win four of the last six games of the season, including the Jared Birmingham Bowl.  

The bowl win gave Clawson his third bowl win and made him the fastest Deacon coach to three bowl victories.

The Demon Deacons set 105 records in 2017, tied another 15 marks, and became one of the nation’s most efficient and productive offenses. Wake Forest set major records for points scored in a season, obliterating the record by 97. The offense set new marks for total offense yards in a game and in a season, yards per carry, most touchdowns scored and most TD passes in a season. The defense set a record with 106 tackles for loss. Two numbers stood out from that campaign: Wake had 11 players selected for 12 All-ACC positions and, as a team, the Deacons beat six bowl teams in 2017.

On December 10, 2013, Clawson became the 32nd head football coach in Wake Forest University history.

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