It's getting ugly. From injuries and poor execution to ineffective playcalling, the Demon Deacon offense is a mess. And part of that starts at the quarterback position. While Tanner Price showed flashes against Duke, and Ted Stachitas has run the ball effectively, there is no continuity offensively. And to add injury to insult, Price is out with a concussion and Stachitas is banged up again (as he has been throughout his career). Stachitas reportedly will play but is still questionable, and Cross and Skylar Jones sit waiting.
So what can be done? After the jump I'll talk a little bit about the situation itself and what could possibly be done to address the offense and the quarterback position specifically.Wake scored early and often in their first two games of the season--against bad defenses. But when the Deacs started to play amped up competition, they've had a lot of trouble moving the ball downfield and extending drives. And in my mind, aside from the injury issues, there are a few reasons as to why this is the case.
Ineffective Running Game
It's getting ridiculous at this point. Our four quarterbacks have ran the ball 81 times, while our three RBs and our FB have rushed a combined 84 times. Our WRs have 29 attempts. If we ran a true option, fine, I can see the QBs running the football, but a lot of the runs have come off scrambling. That's on the OLine partly and as a subtext, also on the QBs for bad reads and not getting rid of the football. They've been sacked a combined 10 times.
Looking to our three primary running backs (I'll keep Bohannon out of the equation for this exercise), they are averaging 4.53 yards per carry good for 327 yards. Not bad, right? Well let's take Duke and Presby out of the mix. In Stanford and Florida State combined, the three-headed monster have rushed for 107 yards on 31 carries, good for a 3.4 YPC average. It's not horrible, but it isn't going to set the world on fire, especially when early in the season we were told that the running attack would be a focal point.
Without big plays on the ground, the QBs can't throw the ball effectively. Teams are able to load the box for losses and also get the QB, which has led to those aforementioned 10 sacks. There is no play action, so Wake can get zoned to death.
Poor Offensive Line Play
This has been a concern for years now. Whenever the team scores it is often in spite of the OL than because of it. As mentioned, our quarterbacks have no time to throw, our running backs get bottled up, and we see ourselves in way too many 3rd and long situations. You can't fix a bad offensive line, but playcalling is not helping matters. We aren't throwing quick slants or outs, we aren't running on the edge enough to give our playmakers a chance to outrun the defenders, and we aren't running any I-formations that would otherwise get extra blocking involved. We also have seen almost no screens, which is a good way to get the d-line to back off. Instead, we're running zone reads, bad runs up the middle on inside handoffs and a bevy of other plays that just don't work. And the line is constantly scrambling to catch up to the defenders who have gotten right past them.
The Zone Reads
Getting back into the zone reads, this is a huge part of our problem. Yes, we've gotten some yards out of it. But is that really an offense that a D-1, ACC team should be running? Against bigger and stronger players, our quarterbacks are taking a beating. Price is already hurt, Stachitas has missed time and might miss more. Putting our quarterbacks in situations where they can be hung out to dry is just foolish. It does not establish a rhythm offensively and does not get other players involved. You might pick up a 7 yard or a 20 yard run out of it, but if you're counting on that as your primary offense, you're in trouble.
There are other problems involved, but the bottom line is that Wake is having all kinds of problems moving the football. The quarterbacks are banged up and haven't been able to establish any consistency. They don't have time to make plays with their arm and they are too often forced into broken plays resulting in a scramble. There is little to no pocket to throw from, and with a stable of talented receivers, this is painful to watch. Until the Deacs start to run a consistent offense and find some sort of identity, with the injuries and everything else, this could go from bad to worse.
How would you fix the offense? What are the Deacs missing? What else could go wrong?