To a neutral observer, last night was probably one of the best games of the season—two top 25 teams going back and forth to take a stranglehold on the division. Wake fans may have a few different ways to describe the experience of last night’s game—stressful and exhausting come to mind. At any rate, that was probably the best atmosphere I have ever experienced for a football game in Winston-Salem, and the Deacs came away with a massive win. As always, it’s time to completely overreact to everything we saw in the Wake game and the rest of college football this weekend. Please keep in mind that these are just the opinions of a fan who doesn’t really know that much about the sport of football and likes to complain.
Christian Beal-Smith should be retroactively given Special Teams Player of the Week for the whole season. Obviously, he was the one doing all the work on the kickoff coverage, because in the first game he didn’t play, Wake gave up 209 yards and a touchdown on 4 kick returns. The kickoff to the Wake 28 late in the first half and the touchdown to open the 2nd half were massive, momentum shifting plays that quite literally almost cost Wake Forest this game. Then, the Deacs tried to sky kick it and still couldn’t cover the kick, causing Ryan Smenda to get a targeting penalty—which gave State the ball at the 50 anyways. If the coverage is going to continue to be that bad without CBS, the Deacs may as well just kick it straight out of bounds, since they clearly cannot get it into the end zone.
The Wake Forest defense saved this game. I have no idea what was going on with the offense, but they played absolutely awful. Hartman had easily his worst game of the season—maybe his career—and the receivers were dropping passes that hit them right in the hands. On top of that, the run game was basically non existent with Wake getting a whopping 2.6 yards per carry. Yet, because of the defense, Wake Forest won this game. The D played maybe their best game of the season (the Virginia game may have been better) forcing 3 turnovers and holding the Pack to 3-14 on 3rd down. And they did all that while the offense and special teams repeatedly put them in terrible positions. We’ve spent a good portion of the season trash talking them, so let’s take a few moments to give them a little praise. An average day from the offense and Wake Forest wins that game by 20+ points. One day the Wake Forest offense and defense will both have a good game on the same day, and I can’t wait to see what happens when they do.
The defense got some help from the Wolfpack coaching staff. Going into Saturday’s game, the Deacs had given up 300+ yards rushing in 3 of their last 4 games. For whatever reason, NC State decided to completely abandon the run game and throw the ball 59 times. The Pack have two really good running backs, and they handed them the ball a total of 12 times during the entire game for 66 yards. I’m not going to complain, but that just makes no sense.
Devin Leary is the best pro prospect in the ACC. Leary is absolutely stud. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best pocket passer in the ACC right now, and like Sam Hartman, he still has 2 years of eligibility remaining. Everyone talks about Sam Howell and his NFL future, but I think Leary might be the best pro prospect in the conference. Then again, I’m pretty awful at evaluating these things, so maybe I’m way off. Either way, I hope he goes pro as soon as possible because I don’t want to play against him again.
ESPN is killing the game with mid-drive timeouts. I really don’t think anyone was faking injuries last night, but something has to be done about these mid-drive official timeouts. I’m talking about these injury timeouts where a player is hurt for like 10 seconds and then just walks off the field, and ESPN decides that is the perfect time to take a 3 minute commercial break. Not only is that terribly annoying, but it gives the defense a huge advantage if they are playing an up-tempo, no huddle offense team. I promise that ESPN will be fine if they go a whole drive without showing Nick Bolton try to sell us the latest mundane device with the word “tactical” added to it. Last night’s game lasted almost 4 and a half hours, and that is, frankly, ridiculous.
I am officially worried about the coaching carousel. Dave Clawson is probably going to get plenty of votes for Coach of the Year, and it’s starting to look like there are going to be a ton of big time job openings out there (looking at you Florida). I don’t know if Clawson wants to move up to a bigger program, but his name in undoubtedly going to come up for plenty of these jobs. That is going to make it a pretty stressful offseason.
Those are my takes from Week 11 of the college football season. Feel free to leave some of yours below.