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Recap In Brief: #19 Wake Forest Edges Liberty, 37-36

If today was any indication, next week is going to get UGLY.

NCAA Football: Liberty at Wake Forest James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t have the energy to do a full length recap of that mess, so let me just say, I’m glad we won the game. 3-0 and still ranked? I’ll take it. There were big plays from multiple players over the course of the game. The defense forced four turnovers. That’s all good. Literally everything else? Oof. Malik Mustapha was the defensive MVP of the game...but then he also was on the negative end of perhaps the most absurd touchdown I’ve ever seen, which could’ve been the game tying touchdown or even the win if the Flames had succeeded in their two point conversion. I genuinely think Mustapha will learn from that one, because on a 4th and 5, literally all he had to do was knock down the ball and there would’ve been significantly less drama. Instead, it was ALMOST peak clownball.

The offense for Wake Forest could do absolutely nothing despite what the score would indicate. The Deacs had 21 rushing yards FOR THE GAME. That’s...I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that, especially not on less than a yard per carry. The offensive line could get no push whatsoever. Sam Hartman looked rattled for pretty much the whole day, though he did manage an absolute dime or two, and a couple of Wake Forest receivers made insane catches. The problem? This was against Liberty. I realize Liberty has improved in recent years, but there is no reason the offensive line should’ve gotten so utterly dominated all day. Also, Sam Hartman did not look himself, throwing two picks, missing plenty of throws, and just overall looking tentative for pretty much the entire game. To be fair to him though, it’s not like he had much time.

But the defense wasn’t without fault, oh no. They were INCREDIBLE on big plays, and in the first half were largely responsible for getting Wake Forest the lead. But when they were bad? Yeesh. Missed tackles, penalties, busted coverages, and giving Kaidon Salter all day to tear the defense apart. Then there was the aforementioned horrible touchdown, but that was pretty much a freak play, and I’d imagine anybody you’d ask would probably agree. But that was one play. For the game, Wake Forest gave up 437 yards, and to their credit they only allowed 4-17 on 3rd. That’s pretty great! The problem is that they gave up 4-5 on 4th. Woof.

Special teams was actually pretty darn good other than one blocked punt for a safety. Kicker Matthew Dennis was perfect, going 3-3 with a long of 46. I’m not gonna be mad at that when the kid is replacing the immortal Nick Sciba. And Taylor Morin, for his part, had an absolutely massive 38 yard punt return.

Maybe this was Wake Forest getting their worst game of the year out of their system, and hey, Clemson got a bigtime fight from Louisiana Tech like what Liberty gave us...for a half, anyway. But unless this team can really shake the funk of this performance, next week will probably be an absolute bloodbath, and maybe the people who had concerns had more of a point than I thought. Oh, who am I kidding? They DEFINITELY did. Still, gotta go 1-0 for the week, and they did it, by hook or by crook.

On to the next. Go Deacs.