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BSD Roundtable: Tulane Review

The Blogger So Dear staff looked at the good and the bad from the Tulane game

The Blogger So Dear Roundtable is a new feature that we will do each week either looking back at a couple of things from the prior game, or looking forward to something interesting for the week ahead (sometimes both!!!).

This week we had a couple of questions posed to the writers of the site to assess basically the good and the bad from last week. Here is what the staff came up with:

/spoileralert: The disappointment answers were LONG.

Q. What is the biggest reason you saw for optimism from the Tulane game?

Adam: Defense, and specifically Jesse Bates. You don't win very many games when your offense only scores 1 time, but the defense was able to save the Deacs from a pretty demoralizing loss. Bates finished the game with 8 total tackles and its pretty clear he has a great sense of where the ball is going and the talent to make plays. In my opinion, he's going to very special player before its all said and done.

Chris: There are only a few reasons for optimism after the Tulane opener. Aside from a few drops and penalties, the problems in week 1 were not necessarily with execution. Tackling was good, especially in the open field and secondary, and the quarterbacks generally hit their throws in spite of not getting time to get their feet set. The other piece of optimism has to be that we still have a manageable schedule remaining. There are still five winnable games there for the taking, and it doesn't seem like we can play a more bottled-up, disappointing style again this year, especially if we have plans to make a bowl. The defense and special teams look decent, Dom Maggio looks like a great replacement for Alex Kinal, and there are playmakers on both sides of the ball. The optimist in me thinks putting it all together will mean getting some leadership on the field, players healthy, and coaching like we want to win.

Riley: The defense sticks out immediately as something that overall is optimistic. Obviously the entire offensive scheme and execution was extremely poor, and that showed in the stats, as well as the scoreboard. I was very impressed with the ability to rush the quarterback (4 sacks, and 4 hurries in 27 drop backs if the Wake play-by-play is correct). We have seemingly improved at tackling overall and didn't let a lot of big plays occur as a result of poor angles or missed tackles. Another reason for optimism is that Wake has seemingly replaced Alex Kinal with somebody at least very comparable in Dom Maggio. He had some good punts, and also saved Wake two points with an extremely athletic one-handed grab to avoid a safety. Not a ton of optimism outside of those things, but defense and special teams were pretty good.

Grumpy: I'm a simple man. My reason for optimism is that we are 1-0 and still on track for our somewhat narrow path to bowl eligibility.

Ned: The defense stayed strong throughout the Tulane game against an option offense that is always a challenge to prepare against. The Deacs also forced a turnover at a crucial point of the game, something the team couldn't do all of last season and didn't accomplish until mid-October in 2015.

Q. What was the most disappointing aspect of Wake Forest’s performance against Tulane?

Adam: Coaching. The play calling was absolutely atrocious. The delay/read option run just doesn't work (and it hasn't for 2 years) and it doesn't appear the coaching staff has any of thoughts of giving up on it anytime soon. In my opinion, if you can only get 2.3 yards per carry against Tulane, maybe its time to try something else. It almost seems like they are determined to run the ball x number of times whether it is working or not, and they have no ability to adjust the play calling to the game. We may also be the only team in the nation that doesn't have a screen pass in the playbook. Running a few screens would slow down the pass rush and buy Wolford/Hinton a little more time to throw downfield. Aside from the play calling the clock management was also horrible. We had Tulane pinned inside the 10 with a minute left on the clock and 3 timeouts. We called our first timeout with like 10 seconds left. We could have gotten the ball around midfield with about 45 seconds left on the clock by using those 2 timeouts we carried into the half. Its not a given we would have put any points on the board but it would have been a great opportunity to do so. To rant just a little more, subbing in a different QB every play is a terrible idea. Its obvious that Hinton is "the runner" as evident by the fact that he only threw 4 times. But why then, when we were trying to kill the clock at the end of the game by running, was Wolford in instead of Hinton? I'm certainly not a football coach so maybe all this goes over my head, but as a fan, a lot of the decisions that were made in this game just don't make very much sense.

Chris: The biggest disappointment, I think for every Wake fan after week one was the coaching staff's inability to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers on offense and disrupt the option on defense. There are two major problems: the QB "controversy" and playcalling. There would be no controversy, or not one that materially affected the flow of the game, if Coach Clawson picked a starting quarterback and let him play an entire half or game. Trying to win with a 2-QB system has failed a lot more successful programs than Wake Forest, who has at least two talented quarterbacks, but not so talented that the decision need be this difficult. This isn't 2015 Ohio State with JT Barrett, Cardale Jones, and Braxton Miller. It's a fairly straightforward case of two guys with less than perfect arms and decent mobility behind a struggling offensive line. Even the wrong decision between the two would be better than no decision. Pick a QB, Coach. Next most disappointing in the Tulane game was the playcalling. Bringing two and three man rushes against the option made a little bit of sense until it didn't. When the Deacs actually did send the house, Tulane looked like the mediocre offense they are. Blitzing the safety wasn't working for the Deacs either, but it was tried more times than simple gap blitzes in the 4-2-5. The coaching staff seems dead set on enforcing a specific style rather than adapting to changes in the game as they happen. When they see something not working, rather than try a new plan, they seem to try and force their square pegs down the round holes of games. Wake has historically been most successful when it's doing things other teams aren't prepared for, whether that's misdirection or the short passing game with small slot receivers or old fashioned running between the tackles. If the offense opens up in week two, I'll take back my amateur observations and admit once again that the game is easy from behind my keyboard. Until then, the coaching has been a frank disappointment.

Riley: It's hard to choose between handling of the quarterbacks and just overall poor offensive scheme. Alternating almost every other play between John Wolford and Kendall Hinton is inexcusably bad from almost every single viewpoint. There is no rhythm to be established, it tips the defense as to what we are likely going to do (Hinton is X% more likely to be a run play instead of a pass play), and it creates chaos with substitutions and signal differences between the two. Coach Clawson indicated after the game that he did not plan to continue to alternate like this, but I'll believe it when I see it. Texas showed on Monday night that a two quarterback system can work if managed effectively, but Sterlin Gilbert is a gifted offensive coordinator, and they have the talent at the offensive line to make it work with two different quarterbacks. That brings us to the next part of just poor overall play calling. It was obviously an extremely vanilla scheme, especially in the running game. There were very little to no outside runs throughout the course of the runs, and with a Cover 1 from Tulane bringing a stacked box, that caused an extremely poor yard per carry reminiscent of the past two years. I know the delayed running game worked any Bowling Green, but for whatever reason (probably a plethora of reasons), it is not working at all at Wake Forest, and hasn't worked for over 20 games now. It needs to be remedied, and it needs to be remedied quickly if Wake Forest is going to go bowling this season.

Grumpy: Keeping with the short and simple, I'm disappointed that we put up only seven points against Tulane. Maybe the play-calling was designed to keep our cards close to our vest heading into the game against Duke, but we were only up 4 points and could easily have lost that game. The other guys have given more details thoughts on the offensive scheme, the quarterback situation, and some issues with clock management. I pretty much agree with what has been said on those points. If this is an omen of how the coaches are going to manage games this season, I'm very concerned. If it was somehow a fluke, intentionally vanilla, shaking-off-the-rust performance by the coaching staff, then things may be just fine. This week should tell us a lot about that.

Ned: The run game struggled time and time again to earn decent yards on first downs, often leading to 2nd/3rd and long situations for the offense. Long yardage situations mixed with the fact that the QB's were constantly rotating is the perfect recipe for a lot of overthrown/underthrown balls and timing never really working itself out. A lot of the season will rely on Carney, Colburn, and Reid's ability to pick up 3-4 yards per carry to start the drive and make Wolford and Hinton's job to extend the drive much easier. We'll see if we can get that done Saturday against Duke.