I knew as SOON as Demond Claiborne hit an utterly heroic 42 yard touchdown with 3:02 left in the game to take a 4 point lead that the game was doomed. Why? Because I just knew, sure as anything, that the defense, which had been pretty heroic all day, would be just tired enough to give up a quick touchdown. I was right about that. Then I was even MORE sure that it was capital o OVER when Santino Marucci, on the ensuing drive, threw a second pick of the day in tying field goal range with just over a minute left. Somehow, SOMEHOW, I was wrong yet again. The Panthers managed to only burn 23 seconds off the clock on the ensuing drive (by the way, Veilleux WAS short; it’s where the ball is the MOMENT the QB gives himself up as a runner, which is exactly how they called it), and then Santino Marucci and Wake’s truly capable offensive playmakers Ke’Shawn Williams and Cameron Hite pulled off the seemingly impossible, scoring the game-winning TD with six seconds left on the clock.
I need to just say this and get it out of the way. The defense was, yet again, incredible. They gave up yardage, but time and time again, when they absolutely needed to come up with big plays, they did exactly that. Santino Marucci and the Wake offense did a movie-tier job of pulling off the miracle touchdown drive in less than a minute. But the rest of the time, the offensive coaching during this game was TERRIBLE. Just awful. I was harsh on Marucci at times during the game, but if I’m being honest, the coaching staff didn’t put him in a position to succeed at all. I don’t think we threw it on first down a single time the entire game before the final drive, and I also don’t think we threw it on second at almost any point. And it’s not like the running game was lighting the world on fire; Demond Claiborne had 14 carries for 96 yards and 2 massive touchdowns, but darn near half that yardage came on the single rushing TD with about 3 minutes left. The pick that Santino threw was terrible, but it’s his first start, he’s a redshirt sophomore, and the coaching staff did NOT put him in a position to succeed, so it’s on them just as much as it is on him. Frankly, the number of nearly successful shot plays through the air by Marucci earlier in the game should’ve given them MORE confidence in him, not less. It’s obvious Marucci is overall as good of a decision maker as anyone else in the QB room, so let the kid sling it. Call more short and mid-range throws in less pivotal situations, rather than pulling an Iowa and doing almost nothing but run-run-run-punt for the majority of the game. This may be a hot take, but I think if the coaching staff put more faith in Marucci earlier, I think Wake wins this thing by double digits. It’s a MIRACLE that the team came together and did the damn thing, and I’m super proud to be a Deacon right now. But it shouldn’t have been that close. Santino is the starter, put it to bed right now, and starting next week, treat him like he’s the starter. End of story.
Good lord, what a rollercoaster. It’s still a slightly upward climb given the brutality of the rest of the schedule, but the bowl hopes are alive, and frankly I hope this win rallies the team, from coaches all the way down to the very last guy on the bench. Take the shackles off the offense, let the defense continue to come up absolutely huge time and time again, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’re gonna fight for it, come out swinging. Don’t fall into the Grobe Trap, our offensive playmakers are too damn explosive. Let them do what they do. Today proved that leads to good results.
On to the next. Go Deacs.