Opportunistic Defense. 5 interceptions, one for a TD. You can't complain about that under any circumstances, and that was more than the difference in this one. Special shout out to Jessie Bates, who had 2 of the 5 picks, and arguably the most pivotal: one in the endzone with Indiana up 7-0, and the pick six with the game tied at 7-7, Unbelievable performance in that regard by the entire defense.
John Wolford: Next Man Up. I have tons of love for John Wolford today. He didn't gash the defense or anything, but he did everything he needed to do. He posted a 16/29, 172 yard, 1 TD passing performance, and a very good 14 carries for 62 yards and two TDs rushing. I still think those saying this calls the starter discussion back into question are getting ahead of themselves, but I have nothing but respect for John's performance today as he put the offense on his back and, while not perfect, John showed leadership, toughness, and selflessness as a teammate. Can't say much fairer than that,
Balanced Offensive Attack. The Deacs posted the aforementioned 172 passing yards as well as 180 yards on the ground. Matt Colburn had 103 yards on 29 carries for a solid 3.6 YPC, and John Wolford's rushing numbers averaged out to 4.4 YPC. I'm of the humble opinion that if a back gets 3.5 YPC or more, that's a good day (largely because 3-4 YPC keeps you on schedule). Furthermore, 6 receivers caught positive passes, and Chuck Wade and Tabari Hines both had explosive plays, while Cortez Lewis almost had one, but was held. The Hines catch in particular was bonkers. It was a real ladder-climbing catch that really showed insane athleticism and skill.
Honorable Mention to Mike Weaver, who did a bang-up job filling in for Dom Maggio in punt duty, and was also flawless in his Field Goal and XP kicking, and good on kickoffs, too! Good job, Mike!
Defense Gave Up Insane Yardage. I heard people saying the offense sucked this game. They really didn't; any time you post 352 yards of offense, have 21 first downs, win time of possession, and are +5 in turnover margin, you'll win probably 99.99% of those games (and I'm not exaggerating, the number is probably that staggering). The problem was that the defense, while incredibly opportunistic and momentous, gave up a mind-blowing 611 yards of offense. Admittedly, 73 of those came on Indiana's final drive including a Hail Mary (which trust me, I'll get to) but good gracious. Indiana had offensive plays of 65 yards, 75 yards, and 49 yards. That cannot happen. Our secondary got absolutely obliterated for the majority of the game.
That Last Punt. Very late in the game, up 12, Wake had a 4th and about the length of the football to go. A first down would have iced it. We punted, and admittedly did a PRETTY good job of making IU burn clock to work their way down the field. That said though, with Matt Colburn moving the pile at will all day, not for massive gains but consistent ones, John Wolford having converted a fourth on a QB sneak earlier, and your secondary giving up big plays all day, why not give the offense a chance to ice it? Now I won't second guess this one too much as we ended up winning, but still, not sure about that one. Maybe I'm wrong and if you disagree tell me in the comments, but I'd have gone for it. Which brings me to...
That. Hail. Mary. My father nearly had an aneurysm when this happened, and while I was confident we'd get the onside and win so I wasn't as upset in that regard, the defense on the last IU drive, which had actually been pretty great up to that point, forcing them to waste time on short gains, was ungodly awful on the Hail Mary. When defending a Hail Mary, always, always, ALWAYS bat the ball down. That's Football 101. We didn't, and IU had a chance to come back.
The Bottom Line
If you had told me Wake would be 4-0, scoring 25.5 PPG with a +5 overall turnover margin and injuries to a starting O-Lineman in Justin Herron, D-Lineman Duke Ejiofor, RB Cade Carney, and QB Kendall Hinton, I'd have taken it 7 days a week and twice on Sunday, are you kidding me? Wake fans and unbiased friendly observers alike have been telling me since the Duke win of the possibility of Wake being undefeated (and bowl eligible) going into the battle with FSU, and let me tell you, I am NOT counting those chickens, but the fact is it is very much possible, and regardless, the likelihood of 6 wins and a bowl berth is probably statistically pretty massive at this point, which is all I really wanted coming into this year. But better than that, we sit here 4-0 and quite probably receiving some Top 25 votes. I am all in for Coach Clawson and this team. Freakin' GET IT, guys. Let's go.
On to the next. Go Deacs.