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Wake Forest Offensive Breakdown

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Take a deep look into the Demon Deacon offense

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

We are now 3 games into the season, and those of you who are good at math will realize that is 14 of the way through the schedule. Seeing as I was unable to leave my house for four days due to a hurricane (yet, somehow my power stayed on the whole time), I decided to distract myself from the deluge by taking a deep dive into the Wake Forest offense. For the sake of this article, sacks count as passing plays and do not count against rushing yards.

Overall, I think everyone can agree that the Wake Forest offense is doing great things on the field in terms of moving the ball. Through the first 3 games, the Deacs have run a total of 281 offensive plays for 1632 yards, which comes out to around 5.8 yards per play. In terms of play calling, Offensive Coordinator Warren Ruggiero has done a great job staying balanced; the Deacs have run the ball 154 times for 813 yards and 4 touchdowns and thrown 127 times (technically 123 passes and 4 sacks) for 819 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Looking at a down by down analysis, the Deacs are best on first down, where they have run 121 plays for 717 yards (5.93 yards per play). Obviously getting over half the yards needed for a first down on first down is great for staying on schedule and elongating drives. On second down, Wake has run 94 plays for 546 yards (5.81 yards per play). The Deacs are the worst (but still pretty good) on 3rd down, where they have run 57 plays for 287 yards (5.04 yards per play). The offense is 25-57 (around 44%) on converting 3rd downs, which is an improvement from our 35% a year ago. Wake has gone for it 8 times on 4th down, picking up 82 yards (10.25 yards per play) and converting 7 times for first downs.

Focusing in on the run game, the Deacs have gained the most yards this season when they run it right up the middle.

The Wake Forest offense has almost 6 times as many yards up the middle as they do on runs to the left or right. Part of that is likely due to what I consider a run up the middle (pretty much anything between the tackles), and part of that is due to the number of runs in each location. The Deacs have gone up the middle on 114 of their 154 runs this season (almost 75%), to the left 22 times, and to the right 18 times. In terms of averages, the offense is actually best when running around the left side, where they average 5.5 yards per carry, compared to 5.3 up the middle and 4.7 to the right. All 4 of the Wake Forest rushing touchdowns have come on runs up the middle.

In the chart above, you can see the yards per carry for the 3 main runners for the Wake Forest offense. Carney is leading the way on runs up the middle, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, while Hartman is leading the way on runs to the left and right (although those are like skewed due to small sample size). While Colburn is slightly behind, his efforts in the BC game show that he is definitely finding a rhythm in the run game and should be caught up in no time.

Moving on to the passing game, true freshman quarterback Sam Hartman has had ups and downs on the year and is currently 68-123 (55%), 834 yards, 6 TD, 5 Int. His stats are broken down by throwing distance below.

His breakdown isn’t all that shocking; he’s the most accurate on short throws between 0-5 yards, and the least accurate on deep throws of 15 or more yards (keep in mind this is how far the ball travels in the air, not how many yards the play goes for, and I am just eyeballing it so it’s not going to be exact). It also comes as no surprise that Greg Dortch is by far and away his favorite target.

What was a little shocking to me is that red-shirt freshman Sage Surratt is leading the team in yards after the catch, higher than even Greg Dortch on 10 fewer catches.

Again, I am just eyeballing this, so it may not be exact.

All in all, the Wake Forest offense has been solid through the first 3 games this season. As time goes on and Hartman gets more experience, they should have absolutely no problem lighting up the score board in future games.