Injury to Hinton puts crimp in Deacons quarterback plan

Sophomore Kendall Hinton suffered a knee injury early in Saturdays nonconference victory against Delaware and will miss 2-4 weeks

Ben McKeown—For The North State Journal
Wake Forest quarterback Kendall Hinton (2) evades a tackle attempt by Duke's Corbin McCarthy (26) during the Deacons 24-14 win at Wallace Wade Stadium last season

It took three weeks for Wake Forest football coach Dave Clawson to decide on a starting quarterback. Once he settled on Kendall Hinton, it took less than a half for that decision to get thrown out the window.Hinton, a 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore who won the job with a standout performance at Duke on Sept. 10, suffered a knee injury early in Saturday’s nonconference victory against Delaware and did not return to the game.He has since been diagnosed with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.”Injuries are a part of football and they’re going to happen,” Clawson said Tuesday at his regular weekly press conference. “You hate it when they happen (but) there’s a little frustration of ‘okay, you finally made a decision on naming a quarterback and a quarter into it (he goes down).'”The good news for Clawson and the Deacons is that even without Hinton, there’s still a veteran option available.Junior John Wolford has started 24 games in his career at Wake, including the first two this season and was splitting snaps almost evenly until Hinton established himself by passing for 133 yards and rushing for 63 more in the win at Duke.Although Wolford got off to a shaky start after Hinton pulled up on a run in which he wasn’t hit, he settled down to lead the Deacons to a 38-21 victory and their first 3-0 start since 2008 — which coincidentally, is the last time Wake qualified to play in a bowl.”We’ve never had those two both healthy for the last year,” Clawson said of Wolford and Hinton, both of whom battled assorted ailments in 2015. “That’s why even last week in practice we really split reps. We’ve always felt we had to get them both ready. Thank goodness we have.”Wolford, who is known as the better passer of the two Deacon quarterbacks, completed 13 of 24 passes for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception against Delaware. He also gained 70 yards as a runner on just seven attempts.His job was also made easier by a vastly improved rushing attack in which Wake gained 302 yards on the ground — led by Matt Colburn’s first career 100-yard effort.It was the most balanced offensive performance between the run and pass in Clawson’t three seasons in Winston-Salem.”I thought John answered the bell in the second half,” Clawson said. “He looked really uncomfortable in the first half, especially for a guy that’s played so much. But then in the second half he settled down. He kind of knew it was his game.”It’s going to be his game again for at least the next few weeks, starting with Saturday’s game at Indiana. Hinton could also potentially miss ACC games against N.C. State, Syracuse and Florida State leading up to Wake’s bye week on Oct. 22.”John was good enough to be our starting quarterback to start the season and I think the players believe in him and know how hard he works at it. They’re going to play for him just as hard as they would for Kendall.”