DeAndre Martin, Josh Harris, and Michael Campanaro all had absolutely explosive performances on Homecoming Saturday as Wake Forest, fresh off of a 52-0 housing by the Florida State Seminoles, recovered and topped the Army Black Knights 49-37. It was an offensive explosion for both teams from minute one, and it seemed early on that whichever team had an opportunity to score last would win the game. Thankfully for the Deacs, the defense was able to galvanize in the fourth quarter, and a huge fourth down stop on defense combined with a beautiful 37-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Martin was enough to ice the game for the Deacs. As much as the defense giving up 37 points to Army is perhaps concerning, it was a strong performance and a team effort that contained a lot of positives, especially on offense.
Read more on this exciting game after the jump...
-Offense, how I love thee, let me count the ways. The Deacs racked up 517 yards on a surprisingly balanced attack (221 passing, 296 rushing). Michael Campanaro was an absolute monster, with three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) with 153 receiving yards on 12 catches. Just as theorized in this week's Podcast So Dear, Army had absolutely no answer for the star receiver. The surprise of the game was the rushing attack, with Josh Harris racking up 129 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, and DeAndre Martin chipping in115 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. The amazing performance of Harris and Martin cannot be overstated, with both players ripping off some highlight-worthy carries, partially thanks to the tremendous play of our patchwork offensive line. Much love to the O-Line, who are dealing with a lot of adversity right now, but absolutely played out of their minds today. Tanner Price was also solid, 15-24 for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Tanner made some gorgeous throws but also missed some easy ones, but he also had a key drive-extending scramble on third and long late in the game. He might have been a little off today, but I continue to be proud of Tanner's consistency and leadership..
-Our defense was amazing at times and frustrating at others. To get some positives in first, the Deacs won the turnover battle yet again, one to nothing, and the defense did a pretty good job of bending but not breaking, as I mentioned on our podcast this week, at the end of both halves. I feel the need to mention one player specifically: LB Mike Olson, who had a key stop on fourth down late in the game to come pretty close to sealing the game, a job that was finished by DeAndre Martin a couple of plays later. It's also worth noting that the defense shut Army out in the fourth quarter. People might look at the score and the yardage and assume that the defense performed badly, but I honestly don't believe this is the case. Could they have played better? Absolutely. But the defense is still dealing with key injuries, especially nose tackle Nikita Whitlock, and the triple option offense that Army runs is notoriously difficult to defend. Army is going to get yardage, and they're going to get points. The key for the defense was to shore up when it mattered most, and the Deacon defense absolutely did that. I am incredibly glad we won't see another option offense all year, because very little terrifies me more in college football.
-Our special teams play remained strong. Our kickoff coverage was very solid, Jimmy Newman was a touchback machine on kickoffs, and Alexander Kinal only punted three times in the game, but averaged 37 yards, with one punt inside the 20 and a long of 50 yards. After the pain and frustration of last year's struggling punting game, it is so refreshing to look on the field and know we have a reliable, skilled punt team. It's also worth noting that the special teams unit blocked an extra point, something that I believe helped the Deacs to get a bit of momentum early.
Overall, I won't be so bold as to say that it was a more dominant performance than the score suggests because it wasn't. However, our offense absolutely tore it up, and our defense was at least okay with some occasional inspired play. If you had told me before the season that the Deacs would be 3-1 through the first four games, I'd take that gladly. The game against Duke next week is huge. There's good news and bad news: the bad news is that the only two games I'd really mark off at this point are both losses. The good news is that that means we have many winnable games to come, and I feel really good about many of the players on this team. If our guys can heal up and continue playing how they have been, I think chances are good that this team will make it to the postseason, which would be more than enough for me. But that's getting ahead of things. Let's handle Duke next week first. As always, thanks for reading, feel free to comment, and Go Deacs.