I have whiplash, From the absolute worst game of the year to the best, Wake handled their business against an NC State team that I'd argue has a very strong chance of going bowling this year. Frankly, despite NC State leading for 33 seconds or so (literally), the game never felt much in doubt. Let's digest, shall we?
Tanner Price: A Man. Okay, so Tanner had one brutal interception, but seriously. 268 passing yards, 61% completion percentage, three passing touchdowns. He hit eight different receivers as well. Add 82 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) and a rushing touchdown, and frankly, this was the best game I can remember from Tanner. The QB rushes were exactly what they should've been, Tanner wasn't pitching it (with I believe two exceptions). He was reading the field and if there wasn't a throw there, he just bolted. He was...I hesitate to use this analogy, because I don't want to overstate it, but in terms of the KIND of running, it was closer to what you see from guys like RGIII and Colin Kaepernick in the NFL than it was to, say, a service academy QB. I'm not saying Tanner was RGIII, but in terms of the style of plays, it was closer to that, which was good. He was pass-first, and even on the designed runs, he didn't get too cute.
No Shortage Of Big Plays on D. One turnover (well technically two but one was on the last play of the game), holding State to 7-17 (41%) on third down, and two big time red zone stands. Admittedly, this is more of an "eye test" observation, but watching the defense, it just felt like they were blowing up tons of plays today. Sacks, blowing up screens, bottling up runs...it just felt like there was pretty frequently an aggression and explosiveness there that hasn't always been there this year.
The Legend Of Camp Continues. 12 catches, 153 yards, two touchdowns. Enough said. Just a monster. The most amazing part is that teams TRY to cover him, they just can't.
Love For The Big Guys Up Front. I wanna give props to the offensive line. It's a thankless job, and they've had a rough go of things this year, but they did a really good job today against a North Carolina State front that's nothing to sneeze at.
I could go on and on, but I won't in this section. It's only fair I discuss...
Giving Up That Touchdown. The lone TD of the game for the Wolfpack came on an absolutely infuriating drive. The offense actually bailed the defense out (yes I just typed that) by scoring that incredible TD before the end of the half. If not for that, State would've gone into the half with the lead and the ball when Wake had definitely looked like the superior team for the vast majority of the first half. Thank you offense.
That Tanner Interception. Brutal. Just brutal.
Missed Opportunities. The Tanner INT was one, and then there was another opportunity when we didn't really capitalize on Kevin Johnson's pick when the game was (theoretically) still in reach for the Wolfpack. It's hard to complain too much, but those were definitely marks against the offense.
State Still Got Their Shots In. 372 yards to our 382. Yikes. While the D had big plays, that's a lot of yardage.
7-14 on Third Down For The Deacs. Certainly an improvement, and far from bad, but I'd love to see a bit of improvement there.
It was Parents' Weekend, and I'm pretty sure I could've watched quite possibly buzzed dads dancing on the big video screen with varying degrees of awkwardness forever. Seriously.
The Bottom Line
It wasn't a perfect game, but it was better than I ever would've imagined, and given the comparative quality of the competition, I'd call it easily the most complete game of football the Deacs have played this season. As the lone staffer who picked the Deacons to win, I feel validated, but I'll be the first to tell you I wouldn't have expected this. I said coming in that this was a potential turning point in the season, and if this game is a sign of things to come, this season might end up okay after all. Here's hoping. Go Deacs.