The Wake Forest Demon Deacons were 20-point home-underdogs against the Florida State Seminoles. Despite the huge discrepancy in recruiting ranks, and the fact that Florida State had 15 days to prepare, the Deacs had the ball, down one possession, inside of Florida State territory with less than one minute to go. Unfortunately, quarterback Kendall Hinton was just off with one of his throws and Florida State sealed a 24-16 win with an interceptions.
Wake Forest out-gained Florida State 190 to 186 in the first half. The 94-yard touchdown run was literally more than half of Florida State's yards in the first half. That effort set the tone for the rest of the game.
The performance by the offensive line was the best I have seen in years. Kendall Hinton was only sacked once in the first half, and that was a result of him holding onto he ball too long. Hinton was 13-16 for 95 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He was far more patient in the pocket, and picked his spots when to scamper. Matt Colburn and Tyler Bell combined for 71 yards on just 11 carries.
The defense, has a lot of room to grow. This is the opposite of what we expected headed into the season. Wake generated almost no pass rush, and also had soft coverage down the field. Perhaps most important is the fact that Wake is so bad at tackling. It's arm tackle after arm tackle. Dalvin Cook is a monster, and I acknowledge that. But that 94-yard touchdown run should have been about a 3-yard gain. Kermit Whitfield's touchdown should have also been a tackle. The yards after contact statistics for Wake's defense must be horrible.
Les is just spot-on with this analysis. He got burned for a 51-yard reception, had a lot of missed tackles and poor angles throughout the day.
Aside from the sack, Zach Dancel has had a less than optimal performance today.— Deacons Illustrated (@WakeRivals) October 3, 2015
I was not a fan of punting on 4th-5 with about 4 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. If the plan was to win the game, then I think that's a chance a team has to take.
The drive at the end of the third/beginning of the fourth was fantastic. Big initial gain to Brent, then Cortez Lewis made an excellent play after the catch. Colburn converted a big third down inside the redzone, though that would have been 4th down territory in my opinion. Cortez Lewis was called for a 5-yard encroachment penalty that Clawson severely disagreed with. Wake could not convert on 4th down and opted to kick a field goal with 11:26 to go. I was not a fan of that decision, but it did not come back to haunt Wake.
In Clawson's defense, the defense went out (nearly forced a fumble) and got the ball back on their own 30 with 9:35 to go. Wake opened up the next drive by doing for the jugular, and was able to pick up a 15-yard pass interference play on FSU. Wake went for it on 4th-and-5, and converted on a strike to Cortez Lewis. I love the decision, and I would have said that even if it wasn't converted. Hinton had Cam Serigne open for a very long gain (and maybe a touchdown) but over threw him. Hinton then made a nice 6-yard run on 2nd down, and then hit Serigne for 13 yards and a first down. Hinton hit Cortez Lewis for a big 3rd down conversion.
Hinton hit Cam Serigne underneath. Wake opted to kick a field goal to make it 24-16 with 3:34 to go. This was after Wendell Dunn was called for an illegal formation. At this point, Clawson's earlier gamble of the field goal attempt paid off.
Wake Forest forced Florida State into a massive 3rd-7 in the fourth quarter with a little under 2 minutes to go. This was after Everett Golson had a dramatic underthrow that would have sealed the game, and perhaps put six on the scoreboard. On third down, Wake sent pressure and sacked Golson for an 8-yard loss. FSU had a 33 yard punt.
Wake began the drive by moving the ball well. K.J. Brent made a critical mistake when he failed to get out of bouds. This forced Wake to have to take a timeout. Wake gained 5 yards off a pass to Brent, then was rewarded after Florida State was hit with a personal foul. Two plays later, Hinton slightly overthrew Cam Serigne, and it was picked off by Florida State's Tyler Hunter.
Kendall Hinton was excellent today. Sure, he missed some throws, but his improvement as a passer since just last week is remarkable. He was 27-42 today against one of the better defenses in the country. Against Indiana, he was 19-46. This is despite the fact that Florida State had 15 days to prepare for this game, and has far better athletes.
Overall, this was about as good of a game as Wake Forest fans could have asked for. The team played very hard, and had very few mental mistakes. Today made it obvious that this team is getting better by the week, and is recruiting at a much better level. The offense gained 357 yards compared to Florida State's 329. They also had 27 first downs compared to Florida State's 14. FSU's offense was more explosive, but this Wake Forest offense is going to be legitimately good before too long.
This was a tough loss, but this was an exceptional effort. I don't know how many wins the team is going to finish with, but I know that they aren't going to be a pushover. I eagerly await to see how Wake performs moving forward. Dave Clawson has a proven track record of building good football programs, and that's precisely what he is doing at Wake Forest.