I haven't been around a lot last night or today because unfortunately I had to work both days. I did get the chance luckily (unluckily?) to see the entire game yesterday and watch Wake lose 52-0 at the hands of the Seminoles. I have several thoughts on the game and basically where we are as a team, and that's what this recap is for! If you want a brief summary of the game and some kind words from the Seminole faithful then check out the recap that Samurai posted here.
Basically, yesterday went about how I thought it would. I expressed concern about the line being surprisingly high (-28) for the game, but as the week wore on and I watched the first couple of games that FSU played in against Murray and Savannah State it became obvious to me that this FSU team does not only have the talent to compete on a national stage, but also the discipline and experience that they have been lacking the last few years as well.
This became painfully obvious yesterday for Wake fans as time and time again the FSU defenders stayed at home on our reverses, misdirections and zone reads, stuffing them for losses time and time again. On the defensive side of the ball for the Deacs, often times our players were in the right place at the right time but because FSU completed their blocking assignments at a high rate, there was nothing that our defenders could do because the talent level of FSU was just too high.
Click through for some more of my thoughts and analysis of the 52-0 beatdown Wake took yesterday.
It is hard to find positives out of a 52 point loss of any kind, much less one to a conference and divisional opponent, but I saw some bright spots yesterday. First of all we all need to consider that this Florida State team is one of the most talented (if not THE most talented team) that Tallahassee has seen since the turn of the millennium. I know that we have all heard this before and I was one of those skeptical of them coming into the game yesterday as well.
This statement is not completely verified because of the game yesterday, as Wake Forest is still the team that they were on Friday. They will contend for bowl eligibility, which is the goal year in and year out in Winston-Salem. Often times fans want more (including myself), but that is the bottom-line goal every single year.
The Deacs are still in excellent shape to make that bowl, thanks in large part to the coaching staff for holding Nikita Whitlock out yesterday and Steven Chase as well (to the best of my knowledge, he did not play in the game), as well as pulling the starters when it got ugly to avoid the possibility of a big injury to a key player.
Wake is still 2-1 (1-1), and while the chance at an ACC Championship is likely all but gone with FSU needing to lose two conference games and the Deacs winning out, a bowl game is still well within reach with games versus Army, Duke, Maryland, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Virginia on the schedule.
Now for the Wake-FSU game thoughts...
To put it simply, the Deacons were outmatched in every single facet of the game Saturday on the field. Florida State is the bigger, faster, stronger, and more talented team in nearly every single position. The 52-0 result is exactly what I would expect from a talent deficit this wide between two teams.
I'm sure many are thinking that the talent gap has been this wide the past few years, but I promise you that when Florida State is at full strength or near full-strength, as they were yesterday, there is no comparison between Wake Forest and FSU. I hate to say that because I have the utmost respect for all of the football players on this Wake Forest football team, but sometimes you have to face facts, tip your hat to the other team and say job well done.
The discipline and focus displayed by the Seminoles yesterday was a far cry from the mistake prone team that limped into Groves Stadium last season and allowed big play after big play. They stuffed the DeAndre Martin pass, they stuffed the Camp pass, they stuffed the zone reads, they stopped every single thing that Coach Lobotzke threw at them because they were well-coached, stayed at home and did their job.
That is the best way to stop an offense that is as frenzied and hectic as the Wake Forest offense is. I hope the Wake defense learned a good lesson because they will need to do it this week against an Army team that runs the wishbone/flexbone veer option attack led by Trent Streelman.
It is really difficult for me to get extremely worked up about anything that went wrong for the Deacs yesterday because it is hard to imagine Wake getting the score much closer even with a perfectly called game by the coaches. Sure it would have been great to score a touchdown or two, but even at 52-7 or 52-14 it really doesn't matter in the whole scheme of things. A loss is a loss and now the Deacs just have to regroup.
Now, to focus on things that the Deacs can control moving forward I will look at positives and negatives that occurred yesterday, Some of become welcome and unwelcome trendsas we hit the 25% mark of our schedule complete:
- The play of the defensive line yesterday, even with the absence of all-everything NG Nikita Whitlock, was very solid in my opinion, especially in the pass rushing area. Did they get beat at the attack point by the offensive line a lot? Of course, and nobody would disagree with that, but when you look at each player there, Redding had a very impressive game with two sacks, as did true freshman Tylor Harris, who I think is going to be an absolute monster in his four years at Wake Forest (3 tackles and 1 FR on a very impressive heads-up play) Hasan Hazime also showed that he wasn't just a one weekend wonder on the heels of his defensive lineman of the week award against UNC, accumulating a couple of tackles and a TFL.
- Brandon Chubb is a special teams superstar and always seems to make a big hit when he makes the tackle. He has a great knack for being at the right place at the right time, and led the Deacs with 7 tackles, including a TFL.
- Bud Noel didn't get a lot of stats in this game, but only because E.J. Manuel hardly ever threw the ball his way. I'm sure he got thrown at a couple of times, but I honestly think it was under 3 the whole game. It seemed like Manuel was more than happy to just avoid him altogether.
- If you go back and rewatch the game, defensively the Deacs were in position a lot of the time, even the two long runs by Chris Thompson.The players were there and in the right position but were either forced out of the play by the blocking of FSU or missed a chance at a tackle (this will be addressed in the negatives). I was impressed with how our pass rush did against Manuel, consistently forcing him to escape the pocket to get his throw off. Two touchdowns were a direct result of the pass rush failing to get to Manuel, leading to the secondary's inability to cover for more than 3-4 seconds. That needs to be worked on obviously.
- Alex Kinal continued to impress despite having what was probably the worst of his three games. He had a 40 YPP average on 13 punts which isn't overly impressive, but still a pretty good game.
- The Deacs managed to lose by 52 points without turning the ball over at all, which leads to a possession chart that looks like the one below. So far, the ability to protect the football by the Deacs has been promising and will reap dividends in close games when the turnover margin is +2 or higher in favor of Wake Forest.
WF 1st W16 15:00 Kickoff W14 14:07 Punt 3--2 0:53 WF 1st W05 13:05 Punt W49 11:11 Punt 5-44 1:54 WF 1st W05 07:27 Punt W10 05:22 Punt 3-5 2:05 WF 1st W15 04:24 Kickoff W18 02:45 Punt 3-3 1:39 WF 1st W19 02:42 Kickoff W33 00:37 Punt 5-14 2:05 WF 2nd F43 14:51 Fumble F45 13:23 Punt 3--2 1:28 WF 2nd W18 12:48 Kickoff W25 09:54 Punt 7-7 2:54 WF 2nd W13 09:36 Kickoff W10 08:00 Punt 3--3 1:36 WF 2nd W25 04:37 Kickoff W44 01:07 Downs 6-19 3:30 WF 2nd W20 00:09 Kickoff W18 00:00 End of half 1--2 0:09 WF 3rd W14 13:09 Punt W17 12:15 Punt 3-3 0:54 WF 3rd W20 10:00 Punt F36 06:18 Punt 8-44 3:42 WF 3rd W19 00:39 Kickoff W19 14:11 Punt 3-0 1:28 WF 4th W25 12:21 Kickoff W25 10:08 Punt 3-0 2:13 WF 4th W27 06:17 Downs W26 03:55 Punt 3--1 2:2215 possessions- 13 punts, 1 TOD and 1 EOH. That's pretty remarkable actually.
- On the offensive side of things, Sherman Ragland made a pretty amazing catch on the sideline and showcased his leaping ability, as well as his hands, which is the biggest question about him right now.
- JRoc showed some glimpses of the talent that he is as well and will hopefully use this game as a springboard for the season. DeAndre Martin also continued to run well and hit the holes with good success.
- I thought the playcalling was pretty good yesterday. We were nice and aggressive, coming out. Good mix of the pass and run and took it right at the FSU defense. It didn't work out, but it was nice to see. I liked the 4th and 1 PA rollouts as well because it spread the field and gave our guys room to work.
- Camp struggled yesterday but will get it back together and shine next week against Army. Tough match-up for a good player and he just couldn't get it going.
- The tackling on this team is pretty much atrocious. We had problems against Liberty and UNC, and yesterday it was comical how often Wake Forest players were in the right spot but couldn't make the play. Instead of wrapping up with solid technique and making a play, often times players would go for the big hit, leave their feet to hit somebody, or try to push the ballcarrier out of bounds. These things don't hurt you as much against teams with less or similar talent, but when you play a team with elite talent like FSU it will absolutely tear you apart. This needs to be rectified immediately this week or Army will have a field day running the option against us.
- I want to say offensive line play in general but know that FSU's defensive line is a juggernaut. I feel bad for Colin Summers, Dylan Intemann and Antonio Ford for going up against Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner. Those guys are elite. The only thing I will say here is that I would have liked to see them make it harder for those guys to get to Price. A few times they went untouched to the QB though and that's always unacceptable. I'll give them a pass this week because they have improved a lot this season with some pretty major obstacles.
- Drops...I'm tired of seeing the ball hit the ground. I'm not going to name names but there was an offender that was particularly egregious yesterday. If you can't catch the ball down 28+ points then how can Price trust you to catch the ball when the game is on the line? FSU did a fantastic job of shutting down Campanaro in man-to-man coverage, but there were other guys open at times, and when Price managed to escape pressure and get the ball to an open player the passes were dropped more times than caught. This needs to be fixed immediately too and I know Coach Galloway will do something about it this week in practice.
- This isn't really a negative as much as it is a question I'll pose. I know that the Deacs run a PA on nearly every single play, but on the 3rd and 15's is it really necessary? It didn't really matter yesterday, but I don't think it's fooling anybody in the 3rd Q down by 4TD's and needing 25 yards to get the first down. Especially when it takes the running back out of the backfield and takes a key blocker away. Don't PA and instead give the QB a snowball's chance in hell to get the ball off before he is attacked by some German dude.
I think that pretty much wraps up all of my thoughts about this game. I know that there will be a ton of people that overreact about this game (as they did to Liberty and UNC), and call for all sorts of crazy things. This isn't a rational, reasonable response to the game though, especially if you watched the whole thing and kept a level-head about it throughout.
Wake Forest played a very, very good team in FSU on Saturday. How good will be revealed in due time, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Deacs will not be the last team to be shellacked by the Noles this year.
The Deacs have a big game against Army coming up this weekend as it is Homecoming for the alumni (Saturday, 12:30). It is pertinent that the Deacs TCOB and move to 3-1 before the game against Duke where Wake will go for the 7,249th straight win against the Blue Devils.
I hope the guys take this game to heart and use the emotions that they are feeling now to fuel their future successes throughout the year. This game can either break the spirit of a team or get them to refocus and reassess their goals for the football season. I have a feeling that Coach Grobe will demand it be the latter and I can't wait for kickoff on Saturday!
Note: Sorry this article was so long but I had a lot of thoughts and I rambled a lot. Hope it's enjoyed by all!