I think it is quite possible that in the past two weeks Wake Forest fans have witnessed one of the best games of the past few years and one of the worst games of the past few years. We entered this weekend's matchup with Syracuse full of confidence, inspired by the results against top-ten Miami and prepared to win the fifth game of the year to place the Deacs within one game of bowl eligibility. While this goal seemed unattainable when the Deacs sat at 2-3, fuming after an absolutely crushing defeat at Clemson, Grobe and company managed to put in the work required and snag two critical home victories over conference opponents N.C. State and Maryland.
What we saw on Saturday in the Carrier Dome unraveled this hard work in a matter of sixty minutes. Starting first and foremost with the worst news of the weekend and likely of the season for that matter, Michael Campanaro is done for the season with a broken collarbone. There is a slight chance that he could potentially return in the event of a bowl game, but that just means that his season is over because let's be honest with ourselves: this team has no shot of postseason play. I predicted that the Deacs would roll into Syracuse, beat the pulp out of the Orange, and leave with a 5-4 record. Instead the offense went brain dead, an all too common experience over the past few years, and Syracuse's offense did just enough to get the job done and eek out a 13-0 victory.
While the score ended up 13-0 it might as well have been 63-0 (a scene we are all likely to actually witness on this upcoming Saturday). The first half was one of the worst halves of football I have ever seen, best encapsulated by possibly the greatest #goacc stat line of all time: 14 punts, 13 first downs. The score at halftime was a goose egg for both parties involved and that might be offensive to the term "goose egg." You would be hard pressed to find a worse half of football if you tried. I've seen games of electric football played more effectively than this first half was. You know what I'm talking about right? The game where you have little plastic players on a buzzing field and you have to try to launch the tiny rubber football at fellow players while they buzz around in circles? Well, you get the picture.
After the first half I figured it couldn't get any worse, but it actually did because in the second half Syracuse shocked the world, made adjustments, and came out ready for battle. Unsurprisingly to anybody who has seen a Grobe-coached football game over the past five years, Wake chose the bold strategy of making zero adjustments and just kept throwing short pass after short pass after short pass after deep bomb to no avail. Syracuse could have placed a lava pit between 10 yards and 30 yards from the line of scrimmage because it was apparent Wake was just not going to use that area of the field. I honestly can't remember the last time in a Grobe-coached game I said "oh man that's a great job exploiting the other team's mismatches; way to go coaching staff!!!" I'm sure we've made in-game adjustments at some point in the season but I sure as hell don't remember any of them.
All-in-all the defense actually played pretty well while looking at things holistically. They held Syracuse to 13 points, engaged in a "bend don't break" type strategy while allowing 352 total yards, and held the Orange to six conversions on 19 total third down attempts. As Nikita correctly noted after the game, when you hold the opposing offense to 13 points you expect to win football games. We held Syracuse to 13 points and we utterly failed to come anywhere close to winning an ACC game against a mediocre-at-best opponent. Now kudos go out to Syracuse's defense for breaking through our split line and forcing Tanner to throw while on the run. They did their job and our offensive line took an absolute beating, but for an offense to record only 213 total yards and get shut out by an Orange team who hadn't shut out a conference opponent since 1998 is an absolute indictment of the coaching staff.
Now I don't want to get too caught up in a discussion of coaching because we have a piece coming out later this week where Mundy and I have a bit of a debate about what needs to be done about the staff, but I will say that anybody who saw this game or has really witnessed Wake football over the past few years knows that Lobo has to go. We gave credit to Lobo and Elrod over the past three weeks for the changes on offense, but as Riley and Rob correctly noted on this week's Roll the Quadcast, our boy Lobo again proved the statement "anything is good in moderation" by annihilating the short passes into the oblivion.
Just like the wildcat in the past, just like the misdirection offense in the past and just like the counter option/read/draw whatever in the past, Lobo took something that was working against the defense and decided to just run it until we puked. Syracuse knew what was going to happen and they stopped it. Wake didn't even pretend to run the football in the second half and it doesn't even make sense because JRoc was gaining over five yards a carry with nine total carries for 47 yards. This was the epitome of Lobo being an ultimate failure at all things related to the offense. While it's incredibly difficult to adapt when your best player goes out, it would make sense to try to run the football a little bit and mix it in with the 54 passes you have your quarterback throwing to keep the defense on their toes. As it stood though, Syracuse knew the pass was coming and adjusted accordingly. Props to Syracuse.
So that's out of the way: Lobo needs to be fired. He'll keep his job as long as Grobe is here because of nepotism but Lobo is extremely incompetent at crafting an offense and the statistics back it up. In the past ten years Wake's average scoring offense is 84th in the country while the total offense is 90th. Over the past four years the offense has finished in the bottom 15 teams in total offense three times and in scoring offense two times. Wake has only finished in the top half of the country in total offense and scoring offense once each in the past decade. So that's that. Lobo must go, per the usual. No biggie, let's move on.
I don't really want to keep thinking about Wake football to be honest so let's just get to the awards and get out of here. The first award of the day will again be Sam Swank's Golden Boot. We really had to dig deep this week to find a worthy recipient of the boot but there were some options. I initially wanted to give it to Campanaro as an award for his career at Wake but I'll hold off on that because I have a pretty good idea about what I want to do on the Camp front moving forward article-wise. Nikita had another good game, but that's just his standard. Last week freshman receiver Tyree Harris stepped in and got the award for being amazing opposite Camp and this week another receiver is going to get it: my main man SherMAN Ragland III. And what a man he was indeed. Despite being on the bench for the majority of the season for undisclosed "doghouse violations," ManLand was able to catch ten passes for 91 yards. He caught almost half of Tanner's 22 completions and was pretty unstoppable when he got the ball thrown his way. This is the first time ManLand receives this award but it certainly will not be the last.
I'll second the sentiment that my BSD brethren shared on the weekly podcast: if ManLand did something bad enough that he deserves not to play then just suspend him and don't bring him on road trips while having him dress out. Having him sit on the bench in full uniform is just stupid. He is clearly one of the best receivers we have and is just toiling away on the bench in Grobe's massive dog pound where we keep our talent to rot away. When ManLand dresses, ManLand should play. This shall be law.
Let's now get to Lobo's Headset which should really just be given out to the entire team, but that's kind of a cop out so I'm going to shorten this to be awarded to the entire offense. I think I already did this earlier in the year, but when you get shut out by a team who hasn't shut out a league opponent in 15 years you have to win some sort of futility award. If you were involved in the offensive scheme this week, whether it be play calling or execution, this headset is for you. Again, I know that Camp got hurt and blew up the game plan, but how hard is it to run the football to set up the pass? How hard is it to find a couple of plays in the play book with intermediate crossing routes? When the coaching staff says "stay away from the hash" they're not talking about the hash marks. Use the middle of the field. We're just giving up on the middle when we don't dump it down for three yard gains. It's just stupid. Another amazing statistic in a week chalk full of them is the fact that we had 12 total first downs and 12 punts. We would have had 13 punts if we had booted it away on the last possession, but opted instead to go for a bomb on 4th and 20. Disappointing really, we could have also tied the school record for punts (well "retied" for Kinal since it would be his second time hitting Ramsey's mark of 13 in a game).
This all leads very nicely to the final weekly installment: the Kinal Kount. If I could ask Kinal one question after this week it would be simple: is your leg ever going to fall off? Kinal boomed an amazing 12 punts, including seven in the first half. Kinal punted the ball for two times as many yards we gained, plus 69 more yards. YES HE PUNTED THE BALL FOR 495 YARDS. That doesn't even seem possible. That's just so many yards. Lobo doesn't even have any idea that yardages can get that high. Anyway with the 12 punts this week, the Kount is nicely back on pace (not that it was really ever off pace but I digress) and Kinal is still set to just obliterate every career punting record there is - total punts for a Wake player, ACC player, and NCAA player; most punting yards ever for a Wake player, ACC player, and NCAA player. If Lobo stays here for another year Kinal will be guaranteed to break all these records. Kinal has punted the ball more times in two games (22 times total against Clemson and Syracuse), than Florida State has all season (21). Let's check the stats:
Punts in the 2013 season: 64 (through nine games)
Career Punts: 159 (through 21 games)
Punts Needed for Ryan Quigley's ACC Record: 126
Kinal's Yearly Average: 90.85 (including this year)
Quigley's Yearly Average: 71.0
Harris' Yearly Average: 80.5
Also since I love you guys, but mostly because I have more of a one-track mind about Kinal's amazing punting accomplishments than Lobo does with his flavor of the month offensive attack, I've compiled some more tasty statistical tidbits to try to help meet our insatiable desire to consume all things related to the Kinal Kount. I even tossed them in bullet form for easy reading! Now don't say I never did anything nice for y'all.
- Kinal is on pace to break the Wake Forest career punting record (held by Ryan Plackemeier at 220 punts) in the fifth game of his junior season. Yes you read that right...five games into next year Kinal will have more punts than any other Wake player ever...as a junior....not even halfway through the year. Alrighty then.
- Kinal is also on pace to break the ACC career punting record (held by Ryan Quigley of Boston College at 284 punts) in the second half of the second game of his senior season.
- Kinal is on pace to break the NCAA career punting record (held by the aforementioned Nick Harris of California at 322 punts) in the second half of the seventh game of his senior season. He would still have four games to pad his stats and that's not even counting any theoretical bowl games. He could put away the record forever. Ripken's games played streak, DiMaggio's hit streak, KINAL'S PUNT RECORD!
- Don't worry though...there's more. Kinal is set to break the all-time ACC career punting yardage record by 2,672 yards. That's over 26 football fields of punts. The current record is held by Duke punter Brian Morton (interestingly enough also between 1997-2000 - must have been something in the water for punters in those four years since that's when Harris set his NCAA record!). Kinal is on pace to break this record in the first quarter of his third game senior year.
- More impressively, Kinal is set to break the Wake total yards record (also held by Plackemeier at 9,957 yards) halfway through the eighth game of his junior season - roughly 32.5 games into Kinal's career.
- Finally, Kinal is on pace to break the ultimate record - most punting yards in a career held by the one, the only Nick Harris of California (DRUMROLL PLEASE) - halfway through the eighth game of Kinal's senior year. And with four games to spare. Who says Wake doesn't win anything?
Think about those stats for a few seconds guys. It's extremely likely that after Kinal graduates (if he stays all four years) a Wake Forest punter will hold every single meaningful NCAA punting record. Plack already has the record for most yards per punt in a career and Kinal is set to shatter the usage record. On top of all this, Wake has had the top punting average in the ACC a conference record 13 different seasons. There is no reason why Wake recruiting shouldn't be pitching Wake Forest as Punter U. Come to Wake, where you can be great as a punter so long as Lobo is the offensive coordinator.
In all seriousness though, Kinal is doing a pretty solid job punting so far in his career yardage-wise as well and if his career ended today would be 5th in Wake history in career average at 40.37 yards per punt.
I won't spend much time on my prediction for next week. Wake opened a 35 point underdog against the Florida State Fighting Jameis' and to be frank we could play this game an infinite number of times and Wake would never win. The real score to this game will be: Florida State - Whatever they want it to be; Wake - Whatever Florida State wants it to be. In reality I'll take FSU winning 66-0. I don't see how Wake scores against FSU with this offense if we couldn't score against Syracuse and even though Wake has the 20th best scoring defense in the nation I think it's clear that we have not faced somebody like Winston or FSU's offense all year. FSU will keep their streak alive of having scored 41+ in every game this year and if Wake lucks into a single point I'll be thrilled.
Let's win the tailgate boys. That's all for this week. As always, go Deacs.