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8/16 Wake Forest scrimmage report--Defense dominates

Headed out to BB&T Field this morning to check out the Wake Forest football team in their first scrimmage of the fall. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of fans that came out. It was around 100-150, which for a Thursday morning at 10 is pretty damn good in my opinion.

There is a lot of support behind this team and I think people are really excited about what this football team can do if they achieve up to their potential.

Today was a lot of what Wake fans expected to see. The defense was dominant at times and the offense scored only two touchdowns in about 12-15 possessions. A lot of times the offense struggled to even get first downs. Now there were definitely pluses on the offensive side of the ball, but it would be false for me to say that I'm not concerned about where our offense is at this point in the fall.

Click through the jump for an in-depth look at the first Wake Forest football scrimmage.

Overall, everything went pretty according to plan. Bud Noel did what Bud Noel does--make plays, yell a lot and get the entire defense pumped up. Nikita Whitlock was absolutely dominant at the line of scrimmage and had his way with the offensive line. Tanner Price was Tanner Price, and when given time he threw some incredibly accurate balls (mostly to Scooby Jackson and Sherman Ragland).

The offense is pretty far behind the defense at this point. Defense always reigns supreme in the spring practices and the first couple weeks in the fall, but this gap is greater than the usual deficit that the offense faces. When you combine the overall talent level, depth and experience on the defense to its counterparts on offense there is really no contest.

I'm not trying to unnecessarily deride the offense and what they have done so far, because on occasion they looked pretty good and Tanner Price clicked pretty well. It's just obvious to anybody that came to the scrimmage today that the offense overall has a LONG way to go, and honestly we are running out of time.

It was pretty clear that the offensive line has a really long way to go even before the game today, but today definitely solidified that. A lot of times the defensive line was in the backfield before the ball was even handed off (pistol formation). That is pretty troubling, but since it is a zero sum game I suppose it is good for our defense.

For the rest of scrimmage tidbits let's get to the bullet point format!

  • When I first got there the team was doing their skeleton drills, and the first two plays were drops by the wideouts, one that resulted in an interception by Joe LaBarbera that would have been a pick six in a game.
  • Terence Davis and Scooby Jackson started at the wide receiver and flanker position respectively for the scrimmage. Scooby had an up and down practice with a couple of drops and a couple of really nice plays. It would be great if he could step up and take some of the pressure off of Camp at the FL position.
  • The WR that I'm most excited about is Sherman Ragland III. He has had some catching issues in practice, but he might be one of those guys that just shines during in-game situations. He had a great diving catch on the second play of the scrimmage and also had a 24 yard TD catch straight down the middle of the field on a throw from Tanner Price. It seems his go to move is to shake the CB and then hit the gap in the zone of the middle of the field.
  • Mike Olson at linebacker was screaming for the first 3-4 plays because of the way Bud Noel was all over the field. Noel busted up the first run by Orville by meeting him head on when he tried to turn the corner. I've raved about Bud a lot in practice so far and maybe I'm a bit biased about his skills, but he is one of the better corners that I've seen come through Wake and it is looking like he could have a HUGE year. If he has worked on defending the bigger wide receivers, which was his weakness last year, then he is ready to explode onto the national scene.
  • Orville Reynolds had a pretty good practice as well, especially considering he had to evade a lot of tacklers in the backfield throughout his possessions on the field. On his TD run he beat the defense to the corner of the line and turned it up for an easy six. Once he is in open field nobody is going to catch him.
  • Deandre Martin looked good at the runningback position, but he also fumbled the ball twice. One he just dropped after two steps and another one that Nikita Whitlock just took away from him behind the LOS after nobody blocked him.
  • Tyler Jackson had a similar day to Martin, he can read the holes pretty well but seems to have trouble at times holding on to the football.
  • Tanner Price was pretty sharp. I'd guess he completed about 75% of his balls (8 or 9 throws) for just over 100 yards. He probably would have gotten sacked a few times, but when he got time he was money, with most of the balls going to Scooby or Sherman.
  • The offensive line as a unit was probably not where most people want them to be right now, but they did have some highlights. It is clear that the Deacs are looking to use misdirection and zone reads to take some of the pressure off of the offensive line, and a few times the line did a great job of taking the defensive line out of the play for the QB to make the right read and get a few yards.
  • It looks like Johnny Garcia has moved to NG and took a few snaps there when Nikita wasn't there. I believe that Hazime has been moved to DE and as well. That would mean Hazime and Desmond Floyd back up Kris Redding and Zach Thompson at DE while Godspower Offor and Johnny Garcia back up Sergio Nikita Whitlock at NG.
  • It also seemed that Jordan Pineda has switched from OLB to the H-Back position as well. He was in the black jerseys (offense) today.
  • Once again I was impressed with Tommy Bohanon at the new H-Back position. He made some really good catches and was a more than capable blocker as well.
  • Alex Kinal and Alex Wulfeck both put on a show. If Kinal punts like he did today in the scrimmage I don't see a way that he is not our starting punter. He punted 5 times and they were all nearly carbon copies of each other. All 45 yards in the air with around a 5 second hangtime. Wulfeck boomed a couple of them as well but they didn't quite have the hangtime that Kinal got on his balls. Impressive performance by both of them.
  • The offense is really relying on the running game early on in the practices/scrimmages. Zone reads/misdirections, fake sweeps, orbits, and all that stuff have been utilized. Once again I think that this is our method to covering up some of our deficiencies on the offensive line.
  • Terence Davis had one of the strangest plays I've ever seen as well today. He caught the ball on a screen pass, made two guys miss, then in traffic he dropped the ball, which in turn bounced right back up to him (all of this still in traffic). This allowed TD the time to break through the secondary and get ahead of them all for what looked like an easy touchdown, but Bud Noel somehow just got his shoelaces on a desperation dive to save a TD. Absurd play and pretty funny to watch. Not sure Coach Galloway thought it was that funny though.
Overall I was really impressed with the defense and saw about what I expected from the offense. I want to give a shoutout to the coaching staff for the way that they have kept the focus and respect of the players so far during practice. Everybody seems really team oriented and eyes focused on the same goal and that is exactly what we need.

I predict that the Deacs will need to keep the scores low in the first few games of the year to have a shot against UNC and FSU. Wake also has to get some defensive touchdowns like they have in the past (see 2006-2008) to help the offense get going earlier in the year. As the offense starts clicking throughout the year I think that this team could be very dangerous come last October and November.

I'm pretty excited about this team and I can't wait for the Liberty game (16 DAYS AWAY)!!!