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Let’s Not Panic Just Yet

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Wake lost a game it should have won, and that makes me sad.

NCAA Football: Army at Wake Forest Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, it took me three days to be able to look, listen, read, discuss, or even think about the Wake Forest loss to Army on Saturday. It brought back very bad memories of the past few years, and I was hoping that we could get through a football year without a “total Wake Forest move”. That being said, we obviously did not, as we lost to the Army Black Knights 21-13.

First of all, all the kudos in the world to Army. They were the better team on Saturday and got a big win coming off of a 3 touchdown loss at home to North Texas (*sigh*).

Army is really good at running the football, and they have improved tremendously on defense under Jeff Monken, ranking roughly the same as Wake Forest in advanced metrics. Given the talent discrepancy in recruiting rankings between Wake and Army*, I expect to beat them almost every single time we play them, but losses like this happen.

It was Army’s first win over a Power 5 team since 2010, and their third P5 win in the past 10 seasons.

First of all, let me blow off the steam I have from the loss on Saturday:

  • The offensive game plan was mind-bogglingly poor in the second half. I will never understand how Carney and Colburn combine for only 12 rushes against an undersized defensive front.
  • I have no idea why/when/where we go for 4th Down. We refuse to go when it’s 4th and Inches, but go for it on 4th and 4 from our own 29. Irritating.
  • Our receivers couldn’t/can’t/maybe won’t ever(???) catch a cold.
  • John Wolford is extremely limited in consistently passing the ball, leading to more issues with the aforementioned bullet point.
  • We still need to learn to block instead of tackling defenders when we are returning a punt or kickoff.
  • Our secondary got beat like a drum throughout the game on the deep ball.
  • It was Homecoming and all we had to do was beat a Military Academy to get to a bowl game for the first time since 2011.
  • Heard many people who come to one game a year saying “same old [sic] crappy product”, which isn’t usually good for generating goodwill/money from alumni.

ALRIGHT. Enough of that. I got all that out of my system, and now it will never be talked about again. It was an extremely frustrating loss, but Wake Forest still sits at 5-3, and hosts Virginia this weekend with a chance to ONCE AGAIN become bowl eligible.

If you had told me through 8 games that Wake Forest would be 5-3 then I would have laughed in your face and then accepted it without any questions asked. The reason why this weekend was so infuriating is because Wake has demonstrated so far this season to be a well coached, run-heavy, defensive-minded team.

We were still a defensive minded team (for good bits), but we were certainly not “well-coached” (at least for 60 minutes on an unseasonably warm Saturday), and we were not run-heavy at all.

There are two more realistic chances this season for Wake Forest to achieve its season goal of reaching a bowl game. I know the coaching staff preaches the “1-0 each week” mantra, but that’s just coach speak. We need to make a bowl, and the coaching staff desperately wants that too.

The season basically comes down to this weekend vs. Virginia, and the season finale against Boston College. Clemson and Louisville are also games we apparently have to play, but they will be not fun to watch/much less attempt to get a win in.

In order to get that sixth win and really make progress in head coach Dave Clawson’s third season, Wake Forest has got to use their personnel better on offense. Wolford is a good game manager, but if he throws the ball 40+ times then Wake just isn’t going to win the game.

With news today that Kendall Hinton is still not ready, it is up to the coaches to learn from this past weekend and hopefully get back to a steady diet of Cade Carney and Matt Colburn in the run game. They are talented enough to lead the team to victory, and finally have an offensive line worth a damn.

This team has come a really long way from 2014, where it was the worst Power 5 offense in the past 30 years, and maybe in any conference in FBS, but there is still a long way to go, and Saturday showed that.

I am almost certainly rambling at this point, as I am using this as an outlet to express my frustrations at not being 6-2 and bowl eligible already. The point behind this article is to calm myself down, and hopefully a lot of other people who are out on the ledge with me. Saturday was awful, but most teams in the FBS lay an egg at least once a season.

What Wake cannot allow to happen is have the Army loss beat them twice. Virginia is 2-6, but nearly upset Louisville this past weekend. The game will be pretty close, and Vegas believes that too, as the line opened at Wake -3.

I urge you as fans to be upset over the result on Saturday, question the game plan and play calls that you disagree with, and continue to be passionate about Wake, but don’t give up on the team yet. This is a much improved Wake Forest team, and as frustrated as the loss made me, I’ll be back out there this weekend cheering them on again.

It’s not time to panic yet, so let’s keep up the support, put last week behind us, and help the Deacs get to the magical six win mark.

*Don’t believe me? Past 4 years 247 Sports average: Wake - 61, Army - 121.