Wake Forest football lost defensive coordinator Mike Elko to Notre Dame, but they appear to have an excellent replacement in Jay Sawvel.
Actually, Athlon Sports likes the Sawvel hire so much, they ranked his addition as the top coordinator hire in the ACC. Here is the explanation of the ranking:
Sawvel replaces Mike Elko, who left Winston-Salem for South Bend and an opportunity to coordinate Notre Dame’s defense. Elko was one of the ACC’s most underrated coordinators and will be missed. However, coach Dave Clawson found an excellent replacement in Sawvel. The Ohio native started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky in 1994 and remained in that role for two seasons. He later worked from 1996-99 as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame and also coached defensive backs at Ferris State (1999-00), Southern Illinois (2001-07) and Northern Illinois (2008-10). Sawvel followed Jerry Kill to Minnesota following the 2010 season and coached defensive backs from 2011-15, before he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2016 under Tracy Claeys. In Sawvel’s only year as the play-caller, the Golden Gophers finished third in the Big Ten in fewest yards per play allowed (4.8), fifth in scoring defense (22.1 ppg), second in the conference against the run (117.9 ypg) and tied for third in turnovers generated (25). Wake Forest finished 2016 ranked third in the ACC in scoring defense (22.2 ppg). Look for Sawvel to keep this defense near the top of the ACC in his first year calling the plays.
Sawvel served as defensive coordinator for Minnesota in 2016. Prior to that, he was an assistant on the Golden Gophers staff for five years, coaching defensive backs and special teams. Under Sawvel, Minnesota’s defense was ranked in the top 25 in points allowed, yards allowed, sacks per game and takeaways.
Last season, Wake Forest was in the middle of the pack in the ACC, allowing 370.5 yards per game, but the Demon Deacons were ranked first in red-zone defense and third in points allowed.