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BSD Roundtable: Key Takeaways, Running Back Depth, and Improvements Needed to Beat Indiana

The staff discusses the Delaware game, and then looks ahead to Indiana.

NCAA Football: Delaware at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Ignoring potential injuries, what were your two biggest takeaways from the Delaware game?

Adam: It’s difficult for me to put too much weight on anything during a game against an FCS opponent, but if I had to give 2 takeaways, I'd say Matt Colburn is a solid backup for Carney and the offense needs to stop turning the ball over. Colburn had a great day running the ball, and finished the game with 118 yards and a touchdown. The defense gave up just 94 total yards, but Delaware scored 21 points because the offense gave the Blue Hens the ball inside the 20 twice. Thankfully we were playing an FCS school missing their starting QB and RB, because you won't win many games turning the ball over inside the opponent’s red zone multiple times. The Deacs have to do a better job of securing the ball on offense in the upcoming games.

Chris: I think we are a competent run offense for the first time since 2011 or probably earlier. The offensive line looks a lot better in certain run looks, and they have shown they can control the line of scrimmage. Similarly, Wolford proved he is a competent backup quarterback. Both of the above observations need to carry the caveat that they were demonstrated against an FCS school. Still, Wake's offense is not as bad as they looked in week one, and still not as good as they can be this season.

Bart: My two biggest takeaways are: 1. Wake's defense is stout - likely a top 50 D with aspirations to be a top 30-40 D as the season continues and 2. Clawson's passion is contagious. Wake held Delaware to under 100 yards. The last time Wake held a team to this few yards was 64 years ago against Furman (1952). Even though the scoring line makes the game look closer than it was, the defense utterly dominated this game and did what needed to be done to get out with a win. Seeing Clawson tear into the refs in the second half after the game was seemingly comfortably in hand provided stark contract to the Grobe tenure where you would be lucky to see any emotion at all. Clawson was furious, and rightfully so, about a targeting penalty called on Paris Black (and he was avenged by the replay) and even incurred a sideline warning for his outburst. I love the passion! Get 'em Claw!

Grumpy: As others have said, our defense is legit. They can keep us in a lot of games, even against Power 5 opponents, as long as our offense takes care of the ball. If we didn't have those two turnovers, the score would likely have been something closer to 48-7. And, once Wolford settled in, he played pretty well in the second half. That was encouraging for the next few weeks where we'll be relying on him at QB.

Coach Clawson indicated that Cade Carney is most likely out against Indiana, and probably won't be back until the Syracuse game (October 8th). How comfortable are you with the backs that Wake will have until then?

Adam: I am comfortable that Colburn, Reid, and Bell will be able to hold their own until Carney gets back. From what we've seen this year, Carney is obviously the best back on the team, but Colburn showed in the Delaware game he is certainly capable of leading the running backs and the ground attack as well. So while I think the rest of the guys will be able to go in the game and do what needs to be done, I will feel a lot better when Carney is healthy and ready to go again.

Chris: Matt Colburn showed he is a good running back this past weekend, regardless of the opponent. He made good reads, had a few good blocks, and put together a good overall game. Between Colburn, Bell, and Reid, we have some depth at the RB position that can sustain us until Carney returns. Full credit to the coaching staff for recruiting enough talent there.

Bart: I am unbelievably comfortable about the stable of backs that the Deacs have to offer. While there may not be anyone else on the roster who can do what Carney did on the first touchdown run against Duke, I'm very VERY high on Matt Colburn as an every down back. Carney and Colburn are both able to break tackles early to get into the second level of defenses and bring an aggressiveness to the position that Wake fans haven't seen in a while. The offensive line deserves kudos for their job the last two games to open up holes for the backfield and Wake is taking advantage. I'm also high on Tyler Bell as a backup and expect him to get a decent number of carries spelling Colburn for the duration of Carney's injury. I also like what Rocky Reid brings to the table, but based on when he came into the Delaware game it seems that the offense may rely more heavily on Colburn and Bell for the bulk of the work. In short, the running back position is not near the top of my concern list moving forward.

Grumpy: I'm very comfortable with our group of backs. I think Bell (particularly last year) and Colburn (particularly last game) have shown us that they can put together some long runs when the offensive line gets any sort of push, which has been happening more this year (albeit not against the toughest D-lines so far). If the O-line improvement holds up against stiffer competition starting this week, I feel good about the RB position on this team.

What's the most important thing that Wake has to improve this week in order to beat Indiana on Saturday?

Adam: Ball security. I mentioned it earlier, but we gave up 14 points to Delaware because the offense turned the ball over twice inside our own 20. Our defense is really good, but it’s hard to stop a team from scoring when they start their drive in the red zone.

Chris: Ball security should be item #1 on the bulletin board for the offense this week. The defense has what it takes to bring pressure, force mistakes from the IU offense, and make big plays. The offense just needs to build on the momentum of the previous two weeks and take care of the ball.

Bart: In order to beat Indiana this week, I think that the number one thing Wake has to improve upon is putting the offense in a position to succeed with John Wolford as the quarterback. Now that the speculation, at least for this week, has ended about whether Hinton will be good to go or not Wake is in a position to run the offense all week with Wolford as THE guy. There won't be any QB switching and there won't be any teeth pulling about who will get the nod. Wolford is able to run a variation of the Clawson/Ruggerio offense but I do believe he needs a few tweaks versus when Hinton is out there. Wolford can do a better job getting defenses to commit on the pass and to do this I believe quick hitters and quick out routes - which we saw more of in the second half against Delaware - is the way to keep the defense on their toes. Wolford has shown an ability to throw the deep ball and has put several right in the hands of receivers, who have simply dropped the passes off the hands of Wolford when they've made that play with Hinton in.

The game plan needs to begin with establishing the inside run early on in the game, mix in some shorter passes to get Wolford confident and set in the pocket, and be willing to probe deep to stretch the secondary and not let the safeties creep up. Wolford is a competent, FBS-level quarterback and the staff is going to be able to put him in a position to succeed. If Wake wants to win, the game plan needs to be tailored to Wolford's strengths since Hinton isn't walking through the door this week.

Grumpy: Other than limiting turnovers, Wake has to improve at getting the ball into the hands of our playmakers (and I don't mean Dom Maggio). Cam Serigne was on the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award (nation's top tight end), but only has one catch in each of the past two games. His one catch last week (34 yards) happened to be Wake's only reception of 20+ yards all game. Cortez Lewis has 3 catches in 3 games. Et cetera. Part of that is because our offense has leaned so heavily on the run so far (142 carries versus 65 pass attempts), but I suspect we're going to need to regain some more balance if we want to keep earning wins. We have some special players in the receiving corps, so let's use them. Plus, the more we successfully pass, the more room our RBs will have to run.