First it was nice to see Dabo own up to his mistake at the end of the first half of the NC State game where he called a timeout that allowed State to heave a pass into the endzone on the final play. He rightly called it a "missed assignment" on his part that was "100 percent on me". I like that accountability. I would like to see that level of accountability for our punt return and protection. If you think about the first quarter of the season that has to be one of the worst coached and managed areas of our team. Dropped punts, no down-field blocking (I mean none) and players not getting on the field--too many miscues.
Wake Forest seems to have the same cast of characters that have struggled in the early season. Tanner Price, RB Josh Harris, Senior WR Michael Campanaro (25 receptions, 354 yards and 4 TD's) and Senior NT Nikita Whitlock. With this returning core why have they struggled?
They are young along the offensive line and have lacked any kind of identity on offense. The coaches have been throwing the kitchen sink at teams and trying some zone option plays in their first game that they abandoning because they were sucking. They haven't been able to run the ball so they got pass happy against La. Monroe. This has led to poor execution everywhere on the team. That doesn't mean that they couldn't put it together because they have talent at many positions. Dabo reminds us that a marginal Wake team forced us to make a huge comeback and kick a field goal to win at home two years ago.
Wake Forest is 2-2 and they are well-coached as always. Two years ago they came in here and we had to kick the game winning field goal. Our guys have to have a great week of preparation. This is an opportunistic team. Offensively, they've done a lot in four games. They've presented a lot of different things from a play-calling standpoint. From the option to the spread and everything that comes with that. Price is back at quarterback and Harris is a guy that's been around for a long time for them. He's a very good player. You have to have a good plan for Campanaro. He's caught 16 passes in one game. Two years ago he also returned a punt against us (for a touchdown). We've got to handle him.
On defense they are good but not great and lack the level of talent across the board that they once had. The corners do play with great discipline though.
Defensively they have seven starters back and it all starts with Whitlock up front. I thought he was gone. He is a nightmare. He's a really good football player. He was the ACC defensive lineman of the week with Vic Beasley. He's not as tall as they list him, not as big as they list him but he plays big.
They play an odd front. They will slide into some even front as well. Linebackers are good players. This secondary is as good as they've played. No. 7 and No. 9 are three year starters. Their eye discipline is unmatched. Big challenge for our guys competing against them.
Wake is playing 11 true freshman which is something Coach Jim Grobe has never done in his tenure at Wake. If they had more talent plugging the holes, they would be more dangerous of a team. Wake will struggle after this year. Tanner Price is no Riley Skinner.
Quick player related notes: Carlos Watkins and Dane Rogers will be out to attend the funeral of their cousin this Saturday. Best wishes go out to the players and their families. (Tigernet needs to really re-think there editorial policy--everyone makes mistakes but putting out that Watkins broke legs and was in surgery is borderline irresponsible. Label speculation as speculation or unconfirmed.)
Kalon Davis and Shaq Anthony will start this weekend. Chad Morris talked about shaking up the offensive line and giving some of the reserves their shot to perform. David Beasley will play but is slowed by that slight ankle sprain he suffered against State. Patrick Destefano is out with stingers in his neck but got good word from the doctor and should begin practicing next week.
BJ Goodson is questionable with concussion-like symptoms. Dabo said he was still experiencing headaches which is a shame because we need the depth at LB now with Kellen Jones suffering an ACL tear.
Giff Timothy is questionable--he apparently received a concussion by the whiplash he received when multiple DE's ran right by him. I said that RT was a position to watch but, wow, has the play been bad. Timothy seems to have regressed and Shaq Anthony has not put the time in the weight room needed to run block more effectively (Dr. B's film review also showed how he needs to learn the calls much better as well). We may even see Joe Gore, who is still having some knee issues, in this weekend things have gotten so bad.
Speaking of blocking, I don't think I have seen so many whiffs on offense since the Chad has been here. Seckinger may have had one of the worst efforts I have seen from a TE on the counter play but the WR's have not been much better. Bryant and even Sammy Watkins aren't giving full effort all the time. Sammy is special but I would like to see him keep his body language in check a bit more. As a leader on the offense when he is showing frustration after a bad pass from Tajh it can impact Boyd and the rest of the team.
Mike Williams was unfortunately seen with a boot on his foot Wednesday. He suffered a minor ankle tweak during practice but will play against Wake. We have been hit hard with injuries this year.
Venables identified Safety as the position he is most worried about on the field because of a lack of depth. Travis Blanks and Robert Smith have struggled at filling lanes and tackling but they also have played almost every snap. Depth must be developed so these guys can play at a higher level, rather than burning out during games and over the course of the whole season. When asked where the depth would come from, Venables replied:
The same group of guys. We don't have a new group of guys. It'll be some guys running in the twos and threes, Jayron, Jadar, Geoghahan, and Breeland is also another option there potentially. Korrin Wiggins is there. It's hard to move a young guy around. This group just needs to show maturity and competitiveness and investment. When you push the envelope, you find out who's afraid and who's not. Some guys want that moment and some guys might not. It's difficult and challenging to invest every single day. The preparation that goes into it can be overwhelming. Some guys can be ready and some may not be.
Safety is a lot more difficult to learn. It's like a linebacker with higher stress because you're the last line of defense. Corner is easier to play from a learning curve standpoint, but harder to play from a physical standpoint because of the unique skill set that it takes. Those guys are coming along, though.
Bashaud Breeland is the next guy in line because Venables doesn't want to move Wiggins from Nickel right now.
I love me some Shaq Lawson(#1 on my list). If he can stay right at or under 275-280, he can be serious force going forward. Certainly a Freshman All-American. Only Vic Beasley has more sacks and TFL than Lawson in less snaps. Tavaris Barnes is also providing quality depth and needs to keep his weight in check all season to keep this burst he is showing.
These next three weeks would be a time that I would seriously step up the weight checks. Lots of after game, late night hamburgers and thudding in practice lead to some unwanted in-season weight gain. Hopefully the nutritionist is all over this.
I think it says something about Clemson that Wake no longer makes me nervous.