The Wake Forest Demon Deacons dominated the North Carolina Tar Heels in time of possession, and also won the turnover battle. Why then did the Deacs lose the game by 36 points? Explosiveness is the most important predictor in football. Wake had some explosiveness, but the Carolina offense was unbelievably explosive.
I examined the play-by-play of the Wake Forest vs. North Carolina game, and then charted the yardage gained on each play. Fortunately, the yardages of each play were already calculated for me. Below you will see the distribution of outcomes for each team.
One-third of UNC's plays went for 11 or more yards. It's nearly impossible to win football games when you allow your opponent to do that. Nearly half of UNC's plays went for at least 5 yards. One-third of Wake Forest's plays went for 5 or more yards. Again, that's not bad, but the defensive effort absolutely crushed Wake Forest in this one.
We knew going in that Wake Forest was not going to be able to keep up in a track meet. The Wake Forest offense controlled the ball reasonably well. They had the ball for 37 minutes and went 8-18 on third downs, but the defense allowed Carolina players to get open all evening. The secondary just has to play better.
Below are the top 20 individual plays by each offense. From the table below, you can see that UNC had six plays that gained more yards than Wake Forest's most explosive play of the evening. That's not necessarily a slight at the Wake Forest offense. That's more of a credit to the UNC offense and a detriment to the Wake Forest defense. If Wake is going to be competitive in ACC play then they have to play well on defense and special teams. They were very poor in both areas last night.
The defense was outstanding for the previous two games, but it's going to have to improve if Wake Forest is going to beat North Carolina State on Saturday.