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Bye Week Musings

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

We are at the midway point of the season and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons are 3-3(0-2 ACC). When looking at the schedule in the summer, this was in the likely ranges of outcomes, but yet it feels like we’re in a freefall.

The defensive coordinator has been let go. Two absolutely brutal losses to Clemson and Notre Dame. A frustrating loss to Boston College, and not really by way of AJ Dillon. Oh might I mention all three of those games were at home?

Their 3 wins have been:

Rice, who might be the worst team in the FBS.

Towson, one of the better teams in the FCS! But it’s still the FCS.

Tulane: Who the Deacs had to fight tooth and nail to get the win against in overtime.

But yet, look at what the Deacs have on the table. Losing Justin Herron, I will argue till i’m blue in the face, has been the biggest hit to this team. Herron was the best pass protecting lineman not only on the team, but one of the best in the country.

We also saw safety Coby Davis go down with torn ACL as well in that game, who was really coming into his own for the Deacs and expected to produce and produce a lot. We’ve also heard and seen how the entirety of the linebacking corps has been devastated by injury with Chase Monroe, Jeff Burley and Nate Mays all out for the season so Wake was originally down to 6 scholarship linebackers for the season. Elontae Bateman was medically disqualified, Arkeem Byrd tore his ACl, and Tyler Bell’s playing career was ended.Names of people who have missed a significant amount of time due to injuries: WR Scotty Washington, QB Jamie Newman, OL Phil Haynes, S Cameron Glenn, CB Amari Henderson, DB Nasir Greer.

Did I leave anyone out?

We also have the privilege of a true freshman QB. Hartman has been the picture of inconsistency. In his wins he’s 63-95 for 861 yards, a whopping 8 touchdowns and 3 INTs. However in the other 3 losses hes 39-89 for 398, 2 TDs, 3 picks,and a fumble. I will say in the game not against a CFP contender, he was 20/45 for 214 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 picks and a QBR of 41.9(yikes)

This isn’t meant to bash Hartman as he’s done an alright job the first half of the season I will admit. While I’ve seen some comparisons as “well Wolford struggled in his freshman year”, Wolford did not have nearly the same amount of help he had his freshman year. Hartman has 3 pretty darn good running backs in Matt Colburn II, Cade Carney and Christian Beal-Smith. He has good receivers in Scotty Washington, Sage Surratt, and Alex Bachman (who you still can’t single cover). Oh he also has someone named Greg Dortch who I don’t need to go too in depth on. He also, even with the Herron loss, has one of the better offensive lines in the ACC.

The defense also has weapons of their own. Essang Bassey has been holding his own and only getting better as the season goes on. Justin Strnad is a force at line backer, Boogie Basham, Zeek Rodney, Willie Yarbury, and Chris Calhoun(WHO HAD 12 TACKLES TO START THE SEASON.)

This entire team has the tools to succeed. It’s simply a matter of two things, confidence and playing within their means. I can not comment on the effort level of the team as I am not in the trenches with them. However it just looks like the team is lost and at times lacking confidence. Playing two top tier teams and having that outcome can have that effect on a team, but I don’t think the bye week could have come at a better time. Looking at the schedule after the bye:

@ FSU: 3-3 team coming off a bye weak and an absolutely heartbreaking loss against Miami. They also haven’t beaten any team that’s over .500(at least Towson is 4-1?)

@Louisville: They are bad. No more analysis needed. Also Petrino is a bad person.

Vs Syracuse: Probably the second hardest matchup left? Dungey is completing 60% of his passes and has the same amount of touchdowns and 2 less picks. Secondary hasn’t been the strength of the team but Dungey hasn’t been fantastic.

@NCSt: Next.

Vs Pitt: They lost to UNC but beat GT and Syracuse? Wake should be decently favored in this as Pitt doesn’t really have a good offense in any right which helps the Deacs and are only one spot above the Deacs(13th out of 14 teams) in Total Defense. This one plays into the Deacs’s strength.

@Dook: Daniel Jones can apparently recover from a broken collarbone in 3 weeks so sure. My thoughts on Duke are mixed. Right now ESPN has Duke as an 85% favorite in this game. But After the VT game where Duke got throttled at home against a backup QB not named Ian Book or Trevor Lawrence. Duke also did this same thing last year and went on a 6 game losing streak. They probably wont do that this year with UNC, UVA and Pitt on the schedule, but with GT, Miami, and Clemson all in the way before the Wake game we should definitely see whether or not they’re frauds.

Outside of the NC State game, there is absolutely isn’t a reason Wake shouldn’t be highly competitive to pretty decent favorites the rest of the way. I have the Deacs going to a bowl. I’ve said that since the beginning of the year and I stand by that prediction. This team has too much talent to not go to one and the back end of the schedule definitely favors us more than the front end did.

What are your thoughts on the rest of the season?

As always,

Go Deacs.