If I'm being honest, I thought we'd be 3-1 at this point. I thought we'd go down to Monroe and take care of the Warhawks, but ultimately we came up short. My preseason evaluations and observations from practice about our offense were wrong, and it only took me four quarters and just 94 yards of total offense to figure that out. From the beginning of Clawson's tenure, however, I said that I'd evaluate this season on week-to-week improvements and adjustments. By that criteria, this coaching staff has done a very good job.
Our offense against Louisiana Monroe was simply woeful. We weren't unprepared, but we certainly didn't execute well offensively. Even with that, our staff (and a defensive touchdown) still had us in the game during the final minutes. Admittedly the bar was set very low, but we've come a long way from Monroe in a short period of time.
We weren't perfect against Gardner-Webb, but we didn't allow a point until the Runnin' Bulldogs scored a garbage time touchdown with just 16 seconds remaining. Our offense was vastly improved in this game as we managed to get into the RedZone on our first six drives of the contest. Unfortunately, the ball kept deflecting off of our receivers' hands and got intercepted. The turnovers were discouraging, but the improvement was obvious, even considering the weaker opponent.
Turnovers continued to be costly against the Utah State Aggies. Admittedly our offense was poor in the first half. By poor I mean we had 40 yards of total offense and had 3 turnovers - 2 of which went for touchdowns. To the coaching staff's credit, they made halftime adjustments and Wake Forest scored two offensive touchdowns in the second half and had no turnovers with the exception of two turnovers on downs. Our defense limited Utah State to just 22 points of offense. It wasn't an exceptional performance, but they did limit Utah State to just 7 points in the second half. Yes, Chuckie Keeton did not play in the second half, but it was still a much better performance in the second half.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons concluded the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 24-21 victory over the Army Black Knights. In this contest, the Deacs had just 1 turnover and accumulated 338 yards of total offense. Wolford was 25-35 for 238 yards with 1 touchdown, and was sacked just once. This was by far the best performance by our offensive line. The staff also made halftime adjustments and shut out Army in the second half.
The ACC schedule will almost certainly be ugly over the next 2 weeks, and will probably be ugly for most of this season. That said, there are winnable games on the schedule, and I'm looking forward to seeing how we perform in those games. Mostly though, I'm just looking to see weekly improvement. I think that's the fair thing to do for a first-year head coach who inherited a team who lost its entire starting defensive line, starting running back, four-year starting quarterback, several offensive linemen, starting running back, and the school's all-time leading receiver. Other than that, it's no big deal. I'm excited to watch our players develop weekly and I hope I'm as optimistic about our program in December as I am in September.
That's just my take. What did you all think of our performances during the first four games?