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Three Up, Three Down: Wake Forest vs. Syracuse

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The Deacs battled a questionable start and the elements to blast the Orange and get one win away from bowl eligibility halfway through the season. The defense and run game were both stout, and the Deacs controlled much of the game.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

The Defense. They did give up 326 yards, but they held the Orange to 5-16 on third down, a plethora of three and outs, and two incredibly clutch turnovers.  Marquel Lee was an absolute MONSTER, and the normally high powered Orange offense had no answer for him.  There's not really much else to say on this one; the defense as a whole did an amazing job of keeping Syracuse off-schedule the entire night.

Offensive Game Control. Cade Carney was a monster in his return, racking up 104 yards on 29 carries for a 3.6 YPC average and one touchdown.  John Wolford was also great on the ground, racking up 94 yards on 12 carries for a 7.8 YPC average, a long of 31 (a great touchdown run) and a pair of rushing touchdowns.  He almost had a third rushing TD, but it was fumbled into the endzone on a tough, bang-bang call.  Wake was also a strong 7-16 on third down, and had a near 10 minute advantage in time of possession.  Really, really good stuff that helped to keep the defense rested.

Special Teams. Dom Maggio had 6 punts, 4 inside the 20, and an average of 41 yards per punt and a long of a booming 51.  Considering the conditions, I am extremely impressed.  There was one snafu, which I'll get to, but by and large fantastic work.

The Downs

The Safety. Now, I will say it was great work to keep the disaster to 2 points rather than 7, but that was just bad times.  I'll chalk it up to the weather, but it's still a negative and I'd be remiss to not point it out.  We're lucky it didn't come back to bite us harder than it did.

First And Goal At The One: Zero Points. Down 2-0, Wake had a great offensive drive of 8 plays.  The offense got the ball to the one to get a first down, and nothing.  I don't disagree with going for it on fourth, but HOW do you not convert that?  Now, the play on fourth was the bang-bang call that didn't go John Wolford's way on the would be TD, but honestly, with Cade Carney, John Wolford, Matt Colburn, and Tyler Bell, plus Syracuse's rather suspect rush defense, how can you not get a single yard on four tries?  Come on, guys.  You're better than that.

Letting Cuse Stay In It. Now, as much as Wake Forest controlled the game, they didn't DOMINATE it, at least not as much as they could've.  There's the aforementioned lack of TD, but also there were some defensive breakdowns, rare though they were, that kept Wake Forest from ending the game much sooner than they could have.  As great as the defense was, there were the occasional explosive plays and/or missed tackles that had me shaking my head.

The Bottom Line

5-1.  A 28-9 win against a team averaging far more explosive performances, both in yardage and on the scoreboard.  Recovering from being down 2-0 in rather spectacular fashion.  Coming out even in turnover margin.  Another 100+ yard rusher, this time in Cade Carney, who had an amazing return.  All these things in the absolutely horrendous weather, and frankly speaking I have a hard time calling this outing much other than a spectacular success.  Much love to everyone in the program, from coaches to players.  This season has most definitely been an #aWAKEning, and I can only hope it continues.  Let's see if we can shock the world in Tallahassee next week to get to the eligibility way earlier than anyone expected.  Either way, we're most definitely driving on the bright side of the road, and I dig it thoroughly.

On to the next.  Go Deacs.

--SF