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Three Up, Three Down: Old Dominion

The return of 3U3D begins with a dissection of the dissection of Old Dominion, which simultaneously wasn’t as close as it seemed but also wasn’t without areas of improvement.

NCAA Football: Duke’s Mayo Bowl-Wake Forest vs Wisconsin Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It was 42-10, but it really wasn’t that close. This was dominant, but simultaneously not AS dominant as it might have been. But it was also more dominant than the raw stats might indicate. That’s a weird combination, but let’s talk over the whole thing, shall we?

The Ups

TCB. It wasn’t quite as gaudy as we might have wanted, but there’s no denying that Wake Forest took care of business here. Not only did Old Dominion’s only touchdown come in the epitome of garbage time, but there were also probably at least two if not three touchdowns that weren’t for Wake Forest. It’s tough to look at any really big aspects and go “wow, that was bad” save maybe one, but just being not bad also isn’t great, and given that Coach Clawson’s team motto this season is apparently “Good To Great”, well, we need to talk about some of those not great things in a bit.

The Defense. The defense absolutely balled out. They held the starting Old Dominion offense to probably under 200 yards offensively (I say this because ODU finished with 272 total yards, and backup QB Hayden Wolff tallied 88 passing yards himself), and the ODU team as a whole ended up being held to 5-17 on third down and 1-4 on fourth. Not only is that fourth down defense good to see, the first two of those fourth down attempts were very manageable and the defense still held strong. Wake Forest also tallied two turnovers, and if I’m being honest, this was some of the most sure edge tackling by Wake defenders I’ve seen in some time. Plays that probably would have ended up 15+ yard gains for opponents in previous years due to broken tackles and the like in recent history were absolutely stonewalled many times over the course of the game.

Big Plays In All Phases. Wake Forest had a 48 yard rushing touchdown from Christian Beal-Smith, a 36 yard bomb from Sam Hartman to A.T. Perry, the aforementioned interceptions (one of which was very very close to a pick 6 for Ja’Sir Taylor, and perhaps the most surprising play of all in my estimation, a 99 yard kickoff return touchdown also by Ja’Sir Taylor. It was extremely good to see that this team has the ability to come up huge at any time if the performance in this game is any indication.

The Downs

4th Down Playcalling. Let me be clear: I supported going for it on fourth down all of the times the Demon Deacons did it. That said, though, the playcalling on those plays in particular was pretty awful. I’m glad to see the aggressiveness, but there were some bad decisions being made on those downs in particular.

Slow Developing Offense. I hate it, hate it, hate it. The slow developing run in particular continue to infuriate me. The especially frustrating part is that when we don’t do that, the offense shows much greater efficacy both through the air and on the ground. Admittedly, the offense likely also benefited from the talent disparity between the Demon Deacons and the Monarchs, so it could be argued (maybe) that some of the more unconventional looks might be helpful in trying to even out some of the later season games wherein Wake is on the other side of the talent disparity, but I’m not so sure I buy it. Use pace, quicker shots, and wear defenses down.

A Handful Of Missed Opportunities. As established, there were at least two or three plays over the course of the game that should have been touchdowns for Wake Forest and weren’t, whether due to underthrown passes, bad playcalls, or sub-optimal running choices (or some combination thereof). It didn’t matter during this game, but in closer outings, it just might.

The Bottom Line

They were good, but they weren’t great. Fitting, given Coach Clawson’s mantra. This was a good start, but they have things to work on if they want to get to greatness. I’ll say this much, if there’s any coach in college football I trust to deliver on that mantra, Coach Clawson is pretty darn high on that list. Here’s hoping the team continues to develop and they can reach the potential that we hope the team can have. Thanks for reading. On to the next, and Go Deacs.