What was the biggest positive from the Army game?
Bart: The biggest positive from the Army game was our ability to make adjustments at halftime and thoroughly dominate the second half of the contest. While I was concerned that Army would just continue to run all over us it appeared that we made some changes, got individuals to commit to their overall game plan, and stopped pursuing the ball which in turn prevents gaps from opening in the option. The offense did enough to get us the win and ultimately we got a come-from-behind home victory.
Riley: The adjustments that the coaching staff made to come back and win the game was probably the best part overall of the Army game. John Wolford looked pretty solid as well, particularly on the game-winning drive. I really think that we have a player in Wolford, and he has continued to show that, given time to throw, he can make the plays the Deacs need to win games.
Robert: My biggest positive was that our conditioning levels remained strong late in the game and that our true freshman quarterback showed tremendous poise in the pocket. He was absolutely money on third down and that play-action to E.J. Scott to score the game-winning touchdown was spot on. It was encouraging, and almost necessary, to win that game knowing what we have to face over the next two weeks.
What was the biggest negative/area of improvement from the Army game?
Bart: I was frustrated with the play of the defense in the first half. After initial stops we just let them run rampant over us as they drove down the field three times on drives of 60 or more yards. That simply cannot happen and we will be punished for it against better teams. For us to be competitive our D has to keep us in it and while it did occur in the second half, it was touch and go there for a while.
Riley: The offensive line was a lot better, but can still use a lot of improvement. I will go with overall perimeter defense. For a scheme in the 4-2-5 that is supposed to force people to the outside, the defense does a poor job of stopping plays that get outside the tackles. Some of that is lack of speed on defense, but I think a lot of it is learning the defense and applying it in game. Hopefully that will improve as familiarity with the scheme progresses throughout the season.
Robert: Our defense has to do a better job of defending the perimeter of the field. Too many times against Army we got beat to the outside, and too many times against Utah State we got burned by jet sweeps. The scheme isn't necessarily the problem, because we do lack speed, but we need to do a better job of making tackles in the open field to prevent huge gains.
Grade the non-conference portion of our season.
Bart: I would grade the non-conference portion a C+. I didn't have high expectations entering the season but our offense was far worse than anything I imagined it would be. The offensive line is starting to look a little bit better but at times they don't look qualified to play FCS football, much less in a Power 5 conference. We are 2-2 and managed to hold serve at home thus far. Let's move on to ACC play and try to get a couple more wins.
Riley: The Deacs had two tough games in Utah and Louisiana (both losses), and two easier games in Army and Gardner-Webb (both wins). So far I would say that Wake has taken care of business. I will give it a B- based on how we have played so far. Wake is pretty much the team that we all thought they were and has some serious flaws across the team. I saw a lot of good improvement from week-to-week, and overall the non-conference games have served as a good primer for the conference.
Robert: I'll give it a B-. I'm glad that we are at least 2-2, but I still can't get over our anemic offensive performance against ULM. I truly believe if we played them tomorrow we'd win, but it's very frustrating to see them allow 442 yards of offense to Idaho. If we were 3-1, I'd be thrilled and would give us an A. I'm all about process, and not necessarily results, but we did not play well at all in that game. That said, I'm very pleased with week-to-week improvement.
What part of Louisville's team worries you the most?
Bart: Louisville's defensive scheme and front is going to eat us alive. Wolford will be sacked 5+ times and we need to get a game plan for him to get the ball, one-step drop, and run some quick hitters in order to keep him vertical. This will be a rough game for our front five and John in the pocket.
Riley: The defensive front against Wake's offensive line is very concerning. Louisville is a blitz heavy team that will be sending pressure from everywhere tomorrow afternoon. I would love to see a lot of two tight end sets, along with Garside and Robinson in a lot, to protect Wolford and give him the time he needs to make his throws. I am also interested to see the backup QB, as Wake usually fares very, very poorly historically against backup quarterbacks.
Robert: Everything? I'm mostly concerned with their defense, which is currently 2nd nationally according to Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings. I expect them to bring pressure, which should cause many problems for our offensive line. I'm curious to see if we go two tight ends, as Riley suggests above, or if we opt to go with very short and fast developing plays.
Bart: Louisville wins 34-13 but the game is a little closer in the first half than Cardinals' fans might like. It think it is something like 17-7 at the break.
Riley: Louisville takes this one 31-10. The defense will keep the Deacs in it until after halftime, but barring any defensive or special teams touchdowns I just don't see how Wake gets the points necessary to win the game.
Robert: I'll take Louisville 35-7. In order to win this game we need to commit zero turnovers, and probably score a defensive/special teams touchdown. Unfortunately, I don't think our offense will score nearly enough to emerge victorious.