Wake Forest defeated Utah State 46-10 on Saturday, and in doing so dominated every facet of the game over the Aggies. The Deacs saw a 14 spot improvement in S&P Ratings, and currently sit at 36th in the nation.
If the pre-season rankings were removed (which they absolutely should not be for anchoring purposes), then Wake Forest would be ranked 5th in the nation. Needless to say, the Deacs have looked pretty damn good so far this season.
As I wrote last week, I plan to review the Five Factors that Bill Connelly releases each week. Usually they come out on Sunday or Monday, so it will likely be a Tuesday morning article. In addition, I will run through the Wake Forest Team Profile and point out some things that stick out statistically, both good and bad.
Bill made it easy for me this week because Wake-Utah State was one of the ten that he put up on Twitter on Sunday afternoon. You can click it to enlarge!
Wake-Utah Sate. Deacs out here bloodying people up. pic.twitter.com/UZqzGtALMo— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) September 17, 2017
You can pretty much make out what happened in this game just by looking at where the red and green falls, almost all of it in favor of the Demon Deacons.
Wake and Utah State both had 15 possessions, but the Deacs ran 90 plays compared to the Aggies 69 plays (nice). Since Wake outgained the Aggies 6.43 to 3.87 in the yards per play department it did not work out for Utah State all that well either.
Just a refresher on what the Five Factors are:
- Explosiveness (if you win this category then you win 86% of the time)
- Efficiency (83%)
- Drive-Finishing (75%)
- Field Position (72%)
- Turnover Margin (73%)
Here are the breakdowns of the Five Factors in the Utah State game:
- Explosiveness - Wake won in rushing, passing, standard downs, and passing downs.
- Efficiency - Wake had a 38% success rate compared to Utah State’s 24% success rate.
- Drive-Finishing - Wake averaged 5.50 points per possession to Utah State’s 2.50 PPP once inside the opponent’s 40 yard line.
- Field Position - Wake averaged starting at its own 29.7 yard line, compared to Utah State starting at its own 26 yard line.
- Turnover Margin- Wake once again won the turnover margin, finishing +1 (1-0).
Turns out when you win all five of these categories, which Wake did fairly convincingly, then you win a lot of the time (almost all the time)?
A big thing that jumps out to me is that Wake exceeded the national average on all of the basic statistical categories. It was well above the average as far as staying on schedule/ahead of schedule in both rushing and passing, and there were even some explosive plays, which Wake has struggled to generate the past few years. The passing explosive plays were especially promising, with two big ones coming in the first 4 minutes of the game.
The success rate finished at 38% but it could have been much worse for Utah State. Wake had a 52% success rate in the first quarter and a 48% success rate in the second quarter. Only in the second half did it drop down to 30% and 17%.
The Deacs got past Utah State’s 40 yard line 8 times and scored 46 points. That’s 5.50 points per opportunity, which is well above the national average of 4.21. For the season Wake has been fantastic at finishing drives, ranking 3rd nationally at 5.86 points per trip inside the 40. That is a very good number to have.
Let’s take a look at the numbers for the season that stick out
- Wake ranks 17th nationally at success rate at 50.4%
- The Deacs still need to improve on hitting the big play, sitting at 104th nationally.
- Field position is still going very well, which is a combination of good special teams and a very opportunistic defense that gives the offense the ball in ideal places quite frequently. Through three games the Deacs average starting at the opponents 35 yard line, ranking 19th nationally.
- I already mentioned the 3rd ranked points per trip in 40 stat,
- The Deacs are +5 on the season in turnover margin and have turned it over just once on the season (a Jamie Newman INT late in the Presbyterian game). Cade Carney fumbled against Utah State but it was recovered by Wake Forest. Just a reminder that each turnover is worth about 5 points of field position value, so that is a pretty big stat.
- The offensive line provided much better blocking on Saturday, but Wake still sits below average in “opportunity rate” for its runners. This needs to continue to improve.
- The defense has been outstanding as far as the Five Factors go, and there’s really just no other way to describe it. The Deacs rank in the top 25 in all Five Factors through three games.
- The best thing the D does is limit the big play, ranking 3rd nationally in stifling explosive plays.
- One of the reasons why this works is that it keeps teams off of schedule, allowing just 30% of opposing offenses to gain what is needed on any given play. This forces a lot of 2nd and 3rd and longs, which allows Jay Sawvel to unleash the exotic blitzes and coverages that causes turnovers and long incompletions.
- When opponents have gotten inside the 40 yard line, Wake is 5th nationally at limiting the damage that is done, sitting at just 2.25 points per trip inside the 40 (remember, Wake is sitting at 5.86 points on the offensive side).
- Turnover margin was mentioned above, but the defense has forced 6 turnovers in three games, scored on one of them, and gotten inside the 5 yard line on another one. interestingly enough, the defense has forced 5 fumbles but only recovered 1 of them. That’s fairly unlucky.
- The defense has been especially good when the opponent decides to throw the football, ranking 9th nationally in success rate and 6th nationally in limiting explosive plays. A quick glance at the percent of the time opposing offenses run the ball on run downs and pass the ball on run downs shows why this is. Teams do not want to throw against this secondary, and when they are forced to do so it has not turned out well at all for them.
- The Deacs rank 13th nationally in havoc plays, “wreaking havoc” on 22% of opposing offensive plays.