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Blogger So Dear Roundtable: Football Thoughts

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The guys chat about new season expectations, our best unit, our units that need the most improvement and make a prediction for the Gardner-Webb game.

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1. How have your season expectations changed after watching the ULM game?

Whitacker Forest: Honestly, I don't think they've changed much at all. I had us pegged for three wins this season, and that included a loss to Louisiana Monroe.

Riley Johnston: My season expectations have primarily stayed in line with where they were before the season. The offense isn't quite where any of us would like for it to be obviously. Dave Clawson has successfully rebuilt every program that he has coached, and I have great faith in him to do the same at Wake Forest. It is important this year to look at improvement from week to week and over the season as opposed to wins and losses.

Bart Johnston: Well I thought we would win 3 or 4 games entering the year. I don't think this has changed that much other than bumping everything down a game. So now I think we win 2 or 3. It was only one game but I don't know how many FBS teams we're better than with this offensive line. There's a reason Phil Steele ranked us last in the NCAA in offense over the summer.

Robert Reinhard: They haven't changed too much, although I believe any completely outside chance we had at making a bowl game is now gone. We looked worse on offense than I anticipated, which is concerning, but I still think we can get to 3 or 4 wins.

2. What aspect of our team were you most impressed with?

WF: That's a difficult question to answer, but I suppose the secondary. We already knew that Bud Noel and KJ were going to be a great tandem, and I'm looking forward to watching them throughout the year.

RJ: Special teams by far was the most impressive sector of the team. Alex Kinal had a helluva game and executed a brilliant gameplan by Coach Scheier. Steve Donatell also had the punt block in the first half when the cavalry was sent. I don't expect a blocked punt every single game, but for a team that is lacking on the offensive side, special teams can be an equalizer when used effectively.

BJ: I though both the special teams overall and the pass defense were amazing. The special teams unit scored our only touchdown and the punt planning for Kinal helped us dominate the field position game all night - we just couldn't capitalize on offense.

RR: Special teams was the obvious bright spot. We had a blocked punt for a touchdown and didn't allow a single punt return all night. Kinal's punting average and net punting are both at 47.1 yards/punt, which is critical to flip field position and help out our offense.

3. What are the two biggest areas that you'd like to see improve by Saturday's game against Gardner-Webb?

WF: First, I'd like to see better protection for our true freshman quarterback. He obviously wasn't getting the ball out like Tom Brady, but he really had no time to throw. I'm concerned that the o-line suffers from a talent issue rather than a coaching one. I don't know how much it can improve in just a single week, but we cannot have another showing like the one against ULM. I would also like to see our receivers catch passes that him them in the chest, but that would probably require not playing Matt James. I'm not expecting guys to look like Calvin Johnson out there. All I want is definitively catchable passes pulled in for a reception. That doesn't seem like too much to ask.

RJ: Can I choose offensive line twice? It's been a week, but that was still one of the shakiest performances I have seen out of a line in quite some time at Wake Forest (or really anywhere for that matter). The defense and special teams did their parts against ULM, but the offensive line had the offense doomed to fail from the start.

BJ: The first spot is obviously offensive line. Everyone will likely say that but it's just the truth. It was a horrible game for the front five. The second place I'm looking for improvement is play calling for the rush attack. This basically goes hand in hand with the offensive line but we can't run delayed handoffs all game because our blockers can't even hold a block long enough to for that. Therefore we need adjustments if the offensive line is going to continue to struggle.

RR: Offensive line simply has to improve. Wolford got sacked eight times, and rarely had time to throw. When he had protection, our offense was pretty good. The line must also improve if we are to establish any type of consistent running attack. Secondly, I'd like to see our defensive line improve. We only had one sack of our own on Thursday, and I'd like to see us get more pressure with just four pass rushers as the season progresses.

4. Finally, a quick prediction for the Gardner-Webb game.

WF: I think (hope) this is one of our guaranteed wins, with the other coming against Army. The last time we took on the Bulldogs, we handed them a 48-5 thrashing. Unfortunately, I don't think the score will be nearly that lopsided this time around. We didn't even manage an offensive touchdown last week, so I feel strange spotting us more than two this weekend. I'll take the Deacs by a final score of 20-10.

RJ: I picked Wake 17-0 on Roll The Quadcast on Sunday night, and that is admittedly a touch optimistic. I actually think it will be closer than anybody in Winston-Salem wants it to be, but the Deacs get the W to move to 1-1.

BJ: Wake wins 24-3. It really depends on how many times our defense scores though. I can't see a scenario where we score more than three offensive touchdowns, even against a bad FCS team. The good news is that Gardner-Webb only scored three points in a 13-3 opener against Furman so I expect our defense to thoroughly dominate. This will be a sloppy game where the offenses both struggle to move the football.

RR: The line just came out and Wake is a 22 point home favorite. That seems a bit high to me and I'll take Wake to win 20-3.