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Three Up, Three Down: Utah State

This is probably the best three game start I can remember from a Wake Forest football team. What a dominant performance. In terms of Ups, it’s going to be hard to specify, but I think it’s something I can soldier through.

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

The Ups

588 Yards Of Offense. Seriously. Even crazier, it was almost an exact even split between the air and the ground. The Deacs racked up 297 yards passing (242 for John Wolford, 55 for Kendall Hinton), and 291 yards rushing. Two touchdowns came from passes, and three came from rushes. Arkeem Byrd finally showed what has been advertised of him with a team leading 120 yards on 19 carries including a beastly touchdown run, but he wasn’t alone. Matt Colburn tallied 74 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. It genuinely was the best offensive performance I can ever remember. Greg Dortch continued to do his thing as a receiver with 4 catches for 68 yards and a 43 yard touchdown scamper on the first offensive play from scrimmage for the Deacs. Tabari Hines led the way, however, with 129 yards on 5 grabs. It was seriously almost beyond reproach, and this team has more playmakers than any Wake team I can ever recall.

Special Teams. Our special teams play is really improving, especially in the return game. Jessie Bates III had a crazy 75 yard return on a quick kick (during which he was also facemasked), and Greg Dortch averaged 20.3 yards per return on kickoffs. It’s really refreshing to have threats in that phase of the game as well.

Defense Did Their Part. Admittedly they gave up 10 points and 267 yards, but take out just two busted passing plays of 77 and 64 yards respectively, both of which were after the game was well over, and you’ve got 0 points and less than 150 yards. Admittedly it’s disingenuous to suggest that Utah State wouldn’t have produced otherwise, but it’s still extremely telling that over half of their yardage and all of their points came from just two plays. Offense dominated, but the defense set the tone, especially with a Cameron Glenn interception on Utah State’s first drive (the only turnover of the game).

The Downs

Penalties. 8 penalties for 62 yards.. Not good. Especially frustrating were the offensive procedure penalties that seemed to plague the Deacs. The offensive line has been playing a lot better, so I don’t want to downplay that, but the penalties were frustrating.

Dropped Passes. A handful of nasty drops, including ones that forced the Deacs to go for a field goal to end the half to go up 29 as opposed to 33. That seems REALLY nitpicky, and in a lot of ways it is, but little things like that can absolutely make a difference in closer games. Gotta clean that up in the future, seriously.

Those Broken Plays. I’m not going to harp on it for many reasons, but I really don’t like to see our guys get beat deep on any occasions. We could quite feasibly have blanked 2 of our 3 opponents this season, but it didn’t work out that way.

The Bottom Line

3-0, and we’re certainly looking more than capable of beating App State in Boone next week if we handle our business. Assuming we do that, going into the Florida State game at 4-0 would absolutely give us the inside track to bowl eligibility. This is a fantastic start to the season, and I love what I’m seeing from coaches to players to schemes alike. It’s really refreshing, and Coach Clawson is a boss, plain and simple. Let’s get a win in Boone.

On to the next. Go Deacs.