This was the most disappointed I have been following any of our losses this season. This includes our contest against ULM in which we generated just 94 yards of total offense. To me, I thought we had a lot of factors going in our favor. We were at home, coming off a bye week, going against a team playing a freshman quarterback and had multiple starters out, and our opponent was coming of three consecutive games against very good opponents. Instead, we lost 30-7. This was the first game in which I did not see week-to-week improvement, which is how I'm grading this season.
Wake Forest finished with just 170 yards of total offense, with more than half (91) coming on a single drive. I fully admit that was our best drive of the season, and was very excited at that point to see our team march right down the field. Wake Forest had 13 drives on the play with our top 5 in terms of yards gained being 91, 25, 16, 15 and 9. That means we only generated 1st downs on 4 of our drives. You simply cannot come anywhere close to being competitive when you are going three an out or turning the ball over more than 67% of the time. We have zero explosive players. And to make matters worse, that 25 yard drive ended in a 51 yard fumble return by Syracuse. It was somewhat fluky that Syracuse tipped it right to a player who was upright, but there was nothing fluky about Tyler Cameron leaving the ball that exposed and 4 Syracuse players being ready to pounce on it. The pick-6 John Wolford threw, even though he got hurt on the play, was also quite poor. His eyes locked onto the receiver, and Robert Welsh read it all the way and returned it for a score.
In the stands yesterday, I was getting somewhat frustrated with out defense. I felt like we were playing a bit softer coverage than we needed, and as a result A.J. Long was able to pick us apart with underneath routes. I still believe this, but realize our defense had a better overall performance in hindsight. Our defense allowed Syracuse to score just one offensive touchdown, and kick 3 field goals. Our defense really did an excellent job at stopping the run. I hate to quote Jeff Bzdelik, but if you take out Devante McFarlane's 86-yard run (which I give Bud Noel great credit for his effort in chasing him down in a game that was already decided) then Syracuse just averaged just slightly over 3 yards per carry, instead of the 5.2 average they posted. I hate to manipulate data, but I feel that it's worth removing that run in a game that was already in hand at that point.
Coach Clawson and his staff have quite the rebuild ahead of them, and our final five games will probably not be the most enjoyable to watch. Our staff is recruiting very well, and have been successful in their previous jobs, so I have faith in them. There are no shortcuts to a rebuild, so unfortunately Wake fans are just going to have to go through it one day at a time.