Deep breath, y'all.
First the facts:
Wake Forest football is 1-1 (0-1)
After 2 games the offense is averaging 2.6 yards per carry (eep) on 93 attempts for 244 yards. The pass offense is managing a respectable 12.8 yards per catch (410 yards on 32 receptions), but this is tempered by the fact that Tanner Price is only completing 58.2% of his passes.
The defense has been stout, averaging 50 tackles per game. The defensive line are getting pressure on the passer, and have done a decent job forcing turnovers. In spite of all this, opponents are averaging about 4.5 yards per play (465 yards on 103 plays).
Small sample size and Presbyterian caveats apply, of course.
Now the opinions:
I will do my best to keep this from becoming a litany of STRONG SPROTS TAEKS, but please call me on anything you feel I am off base on. (IT'S MY FIRST DAY)
The offense is a mess.
I doubt many would dispute this, especially after last night's underwhelming performance. It'd be easy to jump on the #FireLobo, #FireGrobe, #FireEveryone, #FireTheDeacon hashtag hate trains, but let's not go down that road just yet. Rather, let's look at this in terms of complex versus simple. Last night I saw an offense trying in vain to make something overly complex work for their purposes, and struggle mightily for their trouble. The game announcers noted that OC Steed Lobotzke had mentioned that our offensive playbook was "in pencil", the implication being that we are in the dreaded "work in progress" phase. It certainly looked that way, with two (miserable) fumbles on botched pitches to outside runners, a very bad interception on a ball thrown behind Michael Campanaro, and general failure to advance the ball in the run game. I took to trying to quantify the amount of lateral yards the Deacs were accruing as compared to actual field yard gained... I awoke later in a ditch, scared, and confused.
But wait, don't we have a veteran QB/WR combo? A stable of (dare I say it) competent RBs? The explicitly required by contract stud (ehhhhh) TE? Yes. We have all these things operating behind a line that is at its worst undersized, and at its best workable. How does Lobo help them? Keep it simple stupid. Something I noticed watching Presbyterian, and to a lesser extent last night, was that our best plays came on relatively simple up-the gut and edge runs, and a mix of straight-up vertical passing routes (Camp's TD last night, Jonathan WIlliams' performance against Presby) and various Camp slants/screens/sweeps. The lateral option game can be effective, but BC stayed at home and was quick to fill in on designed runs, severely curtailing any potential gains. It would have been more encouraging to see the offense adapt to this and call plays that were designed to get our playmakers running North-South, as opposed to going 60 yards laterally for 2 in-game yards.
In short, don't build a Rube Goldberg machine to drive a nail when a hammer is getting the job done.
Defense is good, not without fault
The game was not much worse thanks in part to the Demon Deacon defense, as well as some dropped BC passes. The defensive line is hitting stride, finding gaps, and were able to get in Rettig's face with some consistency. The secondary performed as they were expected; despite giving up the touchdowns Rettig was held to completing 50% of his passes and 123 yards.
But it isn't all sunshine and rainbows.
I haven't watched the game again to get a sense for how it happened, but I don't need a replay to tell you that BC absolutely gashed us in the run game. So what gives? When you look at the tackling statistics, the top ten is generally dominated by the DL and the DBs, with the odd LB thrown in. At face value this would suggest that our LBs (other than Mike Olson) aren't getting to the ball carriers, and the second level guys are having to clean up a lot of mess. I don't think this is 100% the case, but after watching Andre Williams consistently get into our secondary, I just don't know.
BC ran out of a lot of heavy formations, which is a double edged sword of a sorts. The defense should read run when they see that formation, which is good, but with all the big bodies, the extra TE and FB in to occupy free hitters, it's still advantage BC because as the play clock ticks down they still know the call and the defense doesn't. I keep coming back to the idea that maybe our tendency to get solid defensive pressure at the point of attack (with the DL) might be working against us in certain running scenarios, whereas the interior OL can get to the intermediate level and eat up Olson and company. This is something that comes with game experience, so hopefully the results improve in regard to LBs scraping off of the DL and flowing to ball carriers. Also, making tackles. Felt like throwing that in there.
I like the call to go for it on 4th at the end of the first half. I hated the execution. Seems like the one time I honestly wanted a sweep I got Josh Harris plowed into the teeth of the defense twice and a short hopped pass. Put the ball in Camp's hands 4 times. Seriously dawg.
I am generally a pessimist when it comes to Wake football. To give perspective, I spent 2004 - 2009 on campus learning about the many ways to lose games, so I come into seasons trying to temper my doom and gloom demeanor. I was excited for this game. Maybe it was #TheRivalry, maybe not, but a win against BC would have been a good indicator that this team is capable of being the mid-tier ACC terror they're destined to be.
Balance the option with more simple misdirection runs (counters, traps, sweeps), get the ball out of Tanner's hands more quickly.
Get those LBs flowing to the ball and good things will happen. Run defense needs to improve.
Camp in a Kenny Moore 2.0 role? Can't hurt.
I welcome your comments and concerns.
Get on your feet, Deacon fans.