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Wake Forest makes progress during Clawson's 2nd spring - but Deacons still have long way to go

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WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina — For Wake Forest, even slight progress still counts as progress.

John Wolford threw two touchdown passes to the White's 22-3 victory over the Black in the Demon Deacons' spring game Saturday.

Wolford was 21 of 33 for 185 yards, and the White defense allowed just 136 total yards.

The Demon Deacons are coming off a 3-9 finish in coach Dave Clawson's first season in which they went 1-7 in Atlantic Coast Conference play and had the nation's least productive offense, averaging 216 total yards. Wolford was thrust into the starting lineup as a true freshman.

But Wake Forest still lacks the big-play threat it needs to elevate an offense that averaged just 14.8 points and scored 19 total touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Cortez Lewis caught four passes for 87 yards from backup quarterback Kendall Hinton, including a 45-yarder. But the only plays that covered more than 20 yards came from White receiver Tabari Hines — who had a 25-yard touchdown catch and a 22-yard run.

"We're clearly ahead of where we were at the end of last year and where we were at the start of spring," Clawson said. We're better than we were. And we'll get better when we have three tailbacks and five wide receivers coming in here in July."

Here are a few observations from the Deacons' spring game:

SOLID SPECIAL TEAMS: Clawson nit-picked coverage assignments during the game, but the Deacons were otherwise solid on special teams — especially kicking. Mike Weaver made 3 of 4 field-goal attempts — connecting from 46, 45 and 31 yards — before missing a 26-yarder in the third quarter. White punter Alex Kinal also had two kicks for an average of 43.0 yards, including a booming 57-yard punt. John Armstrong of the Black team had a 98-yard kickoff return called back because of a holding penalty. Adam Centers accounted for the Black team's only points with a second-quarter field goal. He connected from 26-yards out after an eight-play, 34-yard drive by Black.

PICKING PLAYERS: Teams were selected via a draft held by the players. A senior and freshman from the team's leadership council drafted against a junior and sophomore from the council to form the teams. The arrangement came with a unique stipulation -- if one team picked a starter at any position, his backup was automatically assigned to the other team.

THEY'RE GOLDEN: Five players — quarterback Kyle Driscoll, defensive lineman Julian Thomas-Jackson, tailbacks Chris Pearcey and Dez Wortham, and linebacker Marquel Lee — wore gold jerseys during the game. The different uniform meant they were alternating between teams.

SECONDARY SITUATION: Wake Forest will have to replace mainstays Merrill Noel and Kevin Johnson in the secondary, a duo that combined for 80 starts with the Deacons. That's no easy task, considering each is a pro prospect with Johnson being touted as a possible first-round selection. "We're not as good as we were a year ago," Clawson said, "but I think Josh Okonye got better all spring and we've got to get Brad Watson (fractured wrist) back and need another guy to step up. Brad is going to be a solid corner for us and Josh has stepped up. Who's going to be the third corner in that mix?"

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