For a more thorough recap of the game check out Samurai's article that was put up yesterday. In this article I'm going to examine the game through my eyes (as only I can do obviously!), and type out some thoughts about the 28-27 victory over UNC on Saturday.
A win over a rival is always big, especially when that team is UNC and their fans think they will win the game by 4 TD's + (as noted in the "Know Thy Fanbase" post I wrote last week).
Now as the only team at 2-0 in the FBS in North Carolina (unless if I'm missing anything), the Deacs travel to FSU on Saturday where they open up as a -24.5 point underdog. There will be a ton of stuff this week about FSU and Tomahawk Nation, but for today let's soak in the victory and take a final look back at the game that was on Saturday!
On the Offensive Line:
As former Wake Forest offensive lineman Michael Hoag noted in his blog, it was a fantastic patchwork offensive line for the Deacs on Saturday. With injuries and inexperience up and down the line they found a way to get it done. It wasn't always pretty, and the rush blocking is still pretty questionable, but hats off to Coach Himebauch and the hog-mollies up front. The UNC front seven is no joke and the Deacs did a great job of protecting Tanner Price and giving him time to throw the ball.
A lot of credit has to go to play caller Coach Lobotzke too (SHOCKER!!!!) because of the plays that he called that got the ball out of the backfield quickly. Michael Camapanaro had a great hand in this as well, effectively taking several "runs" (screens) and turning it up for big yards.
An eye needs to be kept on Colin Summers and his calf injury that he seemingly re-aggravated early in the game. Hopefully Devin Bolling and Summers will be full-strength for the FSU game this weekend. They are just a different monster completely.
On the offense as a whole:
Phenomenal job by Tanner Price and Michael Campanaro on Saturday. Price threw for a career high in yardage, and also rushed for two touchdowns, one of which game off a botched snap for the first score. UNC seemed content to let their linebackers guard Camp for most of the game with seemingly very little changes throughout. Obviously he torched them to the tune of 13 catches for 164 yards (both career highs, and two shy of the school record for a game in receptions).
Camp now leads the nation in receptions with 22 after two games. Both Price and Camp won POW honors at their position in weekly ACC voting.
Additional shoutouts to Sherman Ragland, Josh Harris and DeAndre Martin as well. SRIII showed the Heels what they missed when he caught two BIG passes in the last drive to get the Deacs their final touchdown to win the game.
JRoc also came up absolutely huge as well. Although his rushing totals weren't extremely impressive (21 runs for 40 yards), his blocking was the difference in the game. Don't believe me? Go watch the final drive. Twice UNC sent delayed blitzes up the middle and JRoc stopped them dead in their tracks allowing Tanner the time to get his throw off to Ragland and Camp. Without those blocks the Deacs don't win the game.
Also a tilt of the cap to DeAndre Martin who once again (in limited action) showed his ability to hit the holes, but also throw the ball as well! Martin threw a fantastic halfback pass in the first half to Brandon Terry (who also had a helluva game).
On the defense:
Although the Deacs allowed 27 points, time after time UNC drove on the Deacs and were turned away when they needed a TD. After the Tanner Price interception in the 3rd Quarter the Heels got the ball at the Demon Deacon 8 yard line. A hold and three more plays that yielded 0 yards, the Heels kicked a FG and that kept the game within reach for Wake.
After the Deacs scored what would turn out to be the game-winner the defense once again stood strong and wound up with a Riley Haynes interception on 4th down to run off even more time.
Then finally Bud Noel slammed the door on the Heels chances with a knocked down pass at the 5 yard line to seal the victory and send the Wake Forest crowd into a frenzy.
Coach Grobe relied heavily on the defense by punting time after time and it proved to be a great play as Kinal was fantastic (which I'll go into later), and the defense did their job every time. We've seen this play out before where the defense gets stop after stop but the offense can't score and then the defense fails at the worst possible time. This week the offense and the defense got the job done when they needed to.
Specifically I'm giving shoutouts to Hasan Hazime (grad student) and Riley Haynes (SR). Both of whom played the best games of their collegiate career. Hazime did just about everything for the Deacs on defense with 5 tackles, a sack, a FF, FR and two pass deflections. This was especially useful as Zach Thompson and Nikita Whitlock were unable to go at certain times.
Riley Haynes finished with 7 tackles and an interception but was especially dynamic in the second half for Wake, as he seemingly "got" it by reading the plays and making the big stops. No play was more important than the interception as time was winding down to all but win it for the Deacs.
On Special Teams:
This is somewhat hit and miss for the Deacs. RS-FR Alex Kinal, for the second week in a row, boomed the ball like the Thunder from Down Under. His 7 punts for 300 yards (42.9 YPP) were once again the difference in the game as he landed 5 inside the 20 yard line. His punt to the one yard line with under two minutes left forced the Heels to essentially go 99 yards in 17 seconds.
On the other hand I have to start being critical of Jimmy Newman and the kicking game. Wake had a great chance to take a 24-14 lead into the half but Newman missed two straight FG's in a row (after a penalty) and it was a pretty big momentum killer. It could have been the difference in the game if not for the heroics of the other players. I always hate to single out a player, especially a kicker, but that's the nature of their job and Jimmy has to get it done when we call on him. It's time for him to answer the bell or the Deacs are going to need to look elsewhere.
- It's been examined thoroughly on Twittter and scrutinized by viewers of the game, but the hit that Duran Lowe laid on Bryn Renner was not only brutal, but seemingly knocked him out. Word out of the UNC camp is that Bryn Renner and Coach Fedora said it was the wind getting knocked out of him, but as many people have speculated, there is no way that there was no direct hit on the head. I talked to Wake Forest players, saw it live, and have examined again via the GIF below, and there is absolutely no way that Bryn Renner was not unconscious for at least a few seconds. With the growing concerns of concussions throughout football, it's not unfair for people to question whether or not Renner should have gone back in the game. For more on this topic read Martin's article for SBNation on the hit here
- Also heard from several football players that the UNC offensive and defensive lines were picking up the black beads from the field turf and throwing them into the eyes of our linemen. This is obviously extremely poor sportsmanship and hopefully this is avoided in the future. After the Zach Thompson injury last week it is also possibly time to look into shields for our offensive linemen if the opponents can't refrain from doing things like this.
- Most people probably also heard the boos from the UNC crowd after the Wake Forest players were getting injured. This was also a lack of class for the UNC fanbase and one I actually found a bit funny. They think that their offense is so high-powered (like Oregon) that the Wake Forest players have to fake injuries to slow them down? They may need to check their team and the stats before they stoop to that level again. The Heels ran 82 plays, compared to 73 for the Deacs, so there wasn't even that big of a difference.
- All in all, it was a fantastic win for the Deacs, but one that needs to be kept in perspective. Wake opens up as a -24.5 underdog in Tallahassee (much higher than the -17.5 I expected), and have a lot of work to do this week. It's great to be 2-0 but Coach Grobe has got to keep the guys bringing it every day or it could be a long day on Saturday!