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No. 23 Wake Forest at full strength to face Vanderbilt

Sportsnaut
Dec 4, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) during the first quarter in the ACC championship game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt has not experienced a big-game feel in recent years, particularly in nonconference play, with that changing a bit Saturday afternoon when No. 23 Wake Forest visits for a showdown at Nashville, Tenn.

“We’re happy to be 2-0 to have a chance to play (Wake Forest),” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “Wake Forest has become a standard-bearer, winning through differentiation.”

Wake Forest (1-0) produced an 11-win season a year ago and has high expectations entering 2022. Vanderbilt (2-0) is aiming to move to a 3-0 mark for the first time since 2017.

This will be Wake Forest’s lone nonconference road game and its only road outing until October. Mitch Griffis had solid debut at quarterback for the Demon Deacons last week, but standout Sam Hartman is scheduled to return after he had a blood clot removed.

“I am just really excited to get back on the field with my teammates and compete each day to help our team get ready for Vanderbilt this Saturday in Nashville,” Hartman said in a statement after he was cleared to return to the field.

Hartman passed for 4,228 yards and 39 touchdowns in 14 games last season with 14 interceptions while completing 58.9 percent of his passes.

Wake Forest began its season last Thursday by defeating Virginia Military Institute 44-10. That gave some insight in several areas.

“We did a lot of good things, but just had too many penalties,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said. “We had five holds, two of them cost us a touchdown and the other one cost us a two-point conversion. There were just a lot of lack-of-discipline penalties that we had.”

In Saturday night’s home opener, Vanderbilt held off Elon for a 42-31 victory. There were positive elements to that outcome, but also concerns in some areas.

“There’s too much that we left on that field that certainly Wake will be set up to make us pay for,” Lea said. “We love learning from good results. I don’t want to take that away from this team. It’ll be an exciting week for this program, and we’re excited to play that game in our stadium.”

Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright rolled up big numbers vs. Elon, becoming the first player in program history to account for six touchdowns in a game. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more.

Vanderbilt wide receiver Jayden McGowan was named the Freshman of the Week in the Southeastern Conference after recording four catches for 118 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown against Elon.

Vanderbilt leads the all-time series with Wake Forest 10-6, including three consecutive wins. The Commodores won 23-21 in the last meeting in the 2013 regular-season finale, which marked the last game as coach for Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe.

Wake Forest has won nine of its last 11 games played in September.

–Field Level Media