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Defensive Review: Wake Forest

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

This is long and I encourage you to read this installments.  The better the opponent, the more detail I'm going to provide. I'm also making a conscious effort to keep it as understandable as possible for the casual fan. However, if you want to learn, you still have to try even if it's only a play or two a week that you fully digest. I'll use pictures for the pivotal plays if you want to skip to just those. If you rewatch the game, or even parts of it, this can be used as a companion piece.  And yes, I know this is the defensive review but I like to lead off here by discussing the offense.

In the "me" era of college football, loyalty is an afterthought and QB may be the most volatile position out there as far as attrition goes.  Great QBs in high school want to start in college and make it to the NFL.  If they can't win the starting job at their school of choice, they'd rather try a different school with a more favorable depth chart.  That means that coaches at big boy programs are often spending time, resources, and effort on a guy that spends his best years with another program. So, QB recruiting and development has a different feel than it did in the past.  When the starter gets established, the coaches know that a talented backup is likely to transfer out of the program.

Notable recent transfers at the QB position in the ACC include:

Chad Kelly, to EMCC from Clemson

David Olson, to Clemson from Stanford

Jacob Coker, to Alabama from FSU

Clint Trickett, to West Virginia from FSU

Jacoby Brissett, to NC St. from Florida

Tyler Murphy, to BC from Florida

Gunner Kiel, to Cinncinati from Notre Dame

Andrew Hendrix, to Miami (Ohio) from Notre Dame

Michael Brewer, to VT from Texas Tech

Brandon Connette to Fresno St. from Duke

Travis Smith to undecided from Wake

Pete Thomas to ULM from NC St.

Ty Griffin to Oregon from Georgia Tech

(I might have missed some)

We've seen that high school QBs desire to start in college has made recruiting more complicated.  Yes, great players want to play at great programs for great coaches.  However, players know the depth chart and talent level of the QBs at the schools recruiting them.   The shorter the path to the starting job, the better.

With Cullen Harper graduating, we landed Tajh Boyd (6.0 grade), who chose us over Ohio St., Oregon, and Tennessee.  The Tajh Boyd era saw us bring in Cole Stoudt (5.6), Morgan Roberts (5.5), Tony McNeal (5.7), and Chad Kelly (5.8).  Donny McElveen fought his way into some spring practice reps as well.  Roberts, Kelly, and Jon Richt (who was already here) transferred out.  McNeal got injured and had to quit football.   Due to that attrition, we were forced to accept our own transfers, David Olson and Nick Schuessler.

Then, with Tajh Boyd graduating, we recruited and landed DeShaun Watson.  So if you're counting, while we're starting Tajh, we're allocating resources to recruit and develop 9 QBs to get the 2 that eventually played after Tajh's departure.  This doesn't count any resources spent to attempt to recruit an elite QB that would be willing to bide their time behind Tajh over that time period (T.Knight, S.Browne, A.Woolard).

So, our QB situation could be better right now, but it also might have been worse too if Stoudt had left with the others.  When compared with Watson the expected QB play at Clemson, Stoudt's QB play this year is deserving of criticism.  However, I do appreciate Cole Stoudt for staying at Clemson behind Boyd for four years. I appreciate him for gutting it out the past 4 games with a shoulder injury and for doing enough to keep us winning games.

Now we get to reintroduce our elite level QB to a stagnant offense and find out if we get to consider this season a success. We made it through the Watson-less stretch unscathed.

After the first INT Stoudt threw Thursday night, my friend said, "The only thing he can throw is his hair."  Well next year, whether it be Schuessler or an incoming Freshman, we might be fortunate to have a backup as good as Cole Stoudt.

Here is a key for my shorthand in alphabetical order in case you need to refer back to it as you read this: BCB = Boundary Cornerback, Blast = FB lead play in the C gap with a kick out on the DE or seal on the LB. Boss - Both on Same Side (ILBs blitz the same side.) Bullet -ILB A or B gap blitz.  Crack- WR blocks down on S or LB.  C0, C1, C2, C3, C4 =  we are playing Cover "x."  Diet 4-3 - 4-3 alignment with Nickel personnel. Dog (overload)- LB and S/NB blitz on the same side. EM = end man on the line of scrimmage. ET stunt - Tackle shoots outside gap and end loops around on the inside. FCB = Wideside or field cornerback, Fold = OL1 blocks the man in front of OL2 and OL2 loops around OL1 to get the playside LB.  Iso = FB lead play in the A or B gap. IV= Inverted Veer. IZ = Inside Zone or Zone blocked play inside the tackles. Jailbreak - 7 or more blitz.  LOS = Line of Scrimmage. man = man to man.  OZ = outside zone run or zone blocked play off-tackle.   PA =Play Action, PBU- Pass broken up.  Power = FB/RB/H-B kicks out EM, backside OG leads into B gap hole. Power Sweep = FB lead to the D gap with OG pulling around. Sky - FS moves up two yards, takes flat, CB and FS take deep third.  Slant Right/Left - DL slants in one direction in unison Sluggo = Slant and Go.  Smoke/Fire- S, NB, LB blitz from the outside D gap.  Soft Coverage - CBs/NB playing well of the WR until he gets to the 1st down line. Stretch = zone blocked run just inside the last offensive player on that side.  Student Body Left/Right = FB lead play to the D gap with all uncovered linemen pulling.  Stack - the 3 LBs are stacked behind D linemen.  Stalk - WR blocks CB in front of him. Sweep = FB/ H-B lead play to the D gap.    TFL = tackle for loss. Trap - playside DT is left unblocked, backside OG pulls and takes him out, RB runs underneath. TT stunt = one DT crashes on a slant and the other DT loops around and fills the hole he just left. Whip - WR starts in and pivots out

Coach/Player shorthand:  BB = Ben Boulware, BV = Brent Venables, DeFinger = DeShaun Williams, KW = Korin Wiggins, Mac = MacKenzie Alexander, Tank = Cordrea Tankersley, The Gambler = Garry Peters, The Fire Ant = Martin Jenkins, SA = Stephone Anthony, TS = Tony Steward

Here is a guide to Personnel groupings. I will include WRs as well to make it easier.  Ex. "123 personnel" would be 1 RB, 2 TEs, and 3 WRs.

Thoughts within a play will be separated by a comma (,)

Each plays will be separated by an ellipsis (...)

First downs separated by a paragraph

Comments of a drive will be done in italics

1st QUARTER

1st Drive, 15:00, WF 25, 0-0

4-3 Under with Beasley in a 9 and TS in the bubble (this usually sets up an overload/jailbreak/BOSS blitz to the strongside), IZ off jet sweep action, SA meets him in the hole and gets drug for a gain of 3...Nickel, Power Lead, playside G and C fold to get Jarrett and SA, Jarrett and Barnes win their battles to get the RB for no gain, great job by those two... Nickel C1 Boss blitz (both ILBs on the weak side though) on 3rd and 7, Beasley shifts to a 9 and Jarrett to a 0 before the snap, dropback, good pass pro by their RB on SA, still throws under major duress to the flat to a WR that is not out of his break yet, timing route in front of The Gambler is caught, gain of 12...

1st and 10, WF 40, Nickel, we're not ready at the snap, Counter Trey, pulling OT has to turn around to get Beasley from blowing up the play from behind (good eye by him), pulling OG seals SA, Barnes tries to beat playside OT with speed creating a running lane, TS shoots the backside gap and misses, uh oh, SA sheds the OG and cleans it up for no gain, whew, awesome job SA...HUNH, trips left, Nickel, PA IZ right, Josh Watson gets blown off the ball, quick 5 yard hitch in front of Kearse, complete and then Kearse levels him with authority, gain of 6...Nickel TT stunt on 3rd and 4, TE clears out Kearse over the middle and the QB hits the WR on a quick slant underneath for the first down...

1st and 10, CU 49, Nickel C4 vs. 2 TEs, screen and go, they tried to catch Kearse and Peters cheating up but they're all over it, good pass pro so 2nd read is the TE breaking over the middle, Kearse knocks it away but got away with PI, incomplete...Nickel, Counter Trey, DeFinger shoves his man into the hole, TS stones the playside OT, SA and Crawford make a pile for a gain of 2...Dime of Doom Double Bullets X on 3rd and 7,  blitz gets picked up, good coverage, Jarrett gets him for the sack with help from Lawson...PUNT

We're flat and they are just out-executing us. You just have to give WF credit.  I'm not seeing what I thought I'd see... guys cheating to pad their stats.

The initial 1st down was a well executed timing route and a play right out of the old "Air Coryell" system and Clawson is an "Air Coryell" disciple.  The QB throws in rhythm to a specific spot, usually a comeback on the outside.  The WR counts, turns, and then the ball should be there if it's coming.  The next 1st down was a TE clear-out for the quick slant, which is again, "Air Coryell."  The main staples of this offense are:  the TE over the middle, 5 yard timing route hitches, all curls, middle floods, quick slants, counter plays, power plays, and trap plays.  The first read in the QBs progression is often a deep ball but that can be changed against a fast defense like ours.

The advantage to this scheme is that when everybody's on the same page and clicking, the offense can seem almost indefensible.  Like all good schemes, the offensive calls work together because it's difficult to cover everything at once: jump timing routes on the outside in man, send ILBs and Ss with a capable TE over the middle, and rush the passer on the DL  if you're being hurt with counters and traps.  The disadvantages are that it takes time to master, and with today's practice rules, that is often a season+.  Also, your QB has to be tough in the pocket because he's going to take hits to throw deep balls and when skill guys get hurt or have an off day, it can get ugly.  So, I believe that this philosophy can turn a losing program into a consistently winning one, but in its pure form, it is prone to disastrous games and isn't a championship philosophy.  At Wake though, they'll take 7-5 and 8-4 every year, no problem.

2nd Drive, 6:56, WF 22, 0-0

4-3 Under, Counter Zone (same one FSU had some success with), SA and Jarrett get him for no gain...Nickel, comeback to the other side this time, QB is late, incomplete...Dime of Doom DB Smoke on 3rd and 10, IZ underneath Lawson, Lawson rushes upfield, OG obliterates Jarrett AND seals SA, uh oh, huge hole, gain of 20...

They caught us rushing the passer on 3rd and 10 and got away with an IZ. Kudos to them and I welcome them to try that again.

1st and 10, WF 42, 4-3 Under, PA IZ, good pass pro, check down to the RB on a circle route, SA and TS recognize it late, gain of 6...Nickel, SA on TE in the slot, PA IZ, wraparound draw, this time Shaq is all over it, loss of 6...Nickel C2 on 3rd and 10, they go with the middle screen that UGA used so well on us, SA is out of position and gets blocked, it was there but the RB drops it incomplete, ...PUNT

Again, when an OL is blocking you 4 yards downfield, it's a screen, find the RB.

Stoudt throws a pick to Kevin Johnson and we get our first sudden change opportunity of the night.

3rd Drive, 2:56, CU 43, 0-0

Nickel SS Smoke, Inverted Veer Right- WR Reverse left-pass back to the QB, just like BC did Wake is trying to exploit us with trickeration on 1st down, Jarrett almost had the RB after the mesh and then should've ended the WR after the reverse but the WR gets it off to an open QB on the opposite sideline, run out of bounds at the 19 by Smith, good hustle by Smith to cover that much ground, gain of 24...

1st and 10, CU 19, Nickel WLB, Counter Trey, beautifully run down from behind by Barnes, loss of 1...Nickel WLB bullet SDE contain, rolls right, Barnes pushes the TE back 10 yards and forces a throw away, awesome job Barnes, incomplete...Nickel showing jailbreak on 3rd and 11, NB smoke TE stunt, IZ on 3rd and long again, give to the RB, Barnes and Jarrett have him until they run into each other, geez, RB gets the corner and is run out by SA at the 4, OFFSIDES on us declined, gain of 14...

1st and G, CU 4, Nickel, pick play, throw outside to the TE with Smith trailing, caught and reaches over the goalline...TD Wake

Two successful runs on "3rd and long" and I'm having Vic Koenning flashbacks. With the sudden change and the trick play, they had us on our heels.  They were fortunate that Jarrett and Barnes collided. Nevertheless, except for Tarvaris Barnes and Shaq Lawson, the front 7 has largely played down to the level of our competition and that equals a bad 1Q for this defense. 37 yards rushing and 57 passing allowed.

2nd QUARTER

4th drive, 14:34, WF 25, 7-0 WF

4-3 base, Iso, Beasley abuses the LT with freakish speed and smacks the RB as he takes the handoff, wow!

Loss of 5...Nickel NB smoke, IZ, and Wiggins blitzed right into it, loss of 2...Nickel on 3rd and 17, (watch the RB please), IZ, Beasley gets through again but misses, RB bounces it to where VB was, TS and Peters pop him for no gain...PUNT

Good mornin' defense.

On offense, we get a PI call on a 4th and 14 to get into FG range and kick one through.

5th drive, 8:49, WF 37, 7-3 Wake

#2s are in the front 7, 4-3 Under, PA iso, bootleg with the FB and TE leaked out on that side, Barnes applies the pressure, pass is to the FB for no gain...Nickel, dropback, good pass pro again, middle flood is covered, QB rolls right and throws it away, incomplete, HOLDING on Wake declined...Dime Double NB Smoke TE stunt, Delay Boss Blitz, very exotic blitz there, QB throws the deep fade on The Gambler, WR had a step, overthrown incomplete...PUNT

Whoa, and BV brings out a blitz we haven't seen yet this year. It's a version of the jailbreak where I believe the LBs had a key (usually pass pro engagement by the RB/TE) that tells them whether or not to blitz.  We sent 6 to the playside and 2 to the left on that one.

Their punter takes the snap with his knee on the ground and we get a TD off a screen. Great call by Morris expecting pressure.

6th drive, 7:00, WF 27, 10-7 Clem

4-3 Under, PA IZ, quick slant, good coverage by Mac, incomplete, Late Flag PI, accepted by Wake, hard to tell, it was close, maybe it was a makeup call from the Kearse non-call before...

1st and 10, WF 32, 4-3 Under Sam Smoke, Power Sweep, Jarrett drives the OG 4 yards into the backfield, wow, RB cuts it up and TS nails him with a perfect playside fill, loss of 2...Nickel, dropback, Beasley beats the LT but misses the tackle on the QB, dumps off to the WR on a whip route, nice throw and catch, gain of 6...Nickel, dropback, tries to throw to a stick/out combo but the WRs break to the same place, Jarrett breaks through a double team for the sack,

loss of 7...PUNT

Whatever missteps Grady made in the 1Q, he has made up for them now. Sheer domination.

Humphries muffs the punt return and we give it to Wake in our Redzone. Sudden Change #2.

7th drive, 5:01, CU 13, 10-7 Clem

Nickel, Counter Trey at Crawford, Watson stones the OG, Lawson does a good job of chasing down the RB from behind, Jarrett literally washes the C and G down the line and helps make the play for a loss of 1, inhuman...Nickel C4, PA IZ, TE post route, the TE runs into SA at 5 yards and then fights over the top and goes down the middle, I think this one is on Kearse, HOLDING CALLED on SA, declined, TD Wake

Kearse has the TE in quarters if he runs past LB depth. If the TE stays underneath, he gets to the deep ¼ on that side to help with the outside WR.  The play is designed so that Kearse has to choose to honor the two outside routes coming at him or let them run by him and wait on the TE.  BC beat T.J. Green with this concept a couple times if you remember and Kearse got burned deep with a similar play against UL.

We answer on offense with a TD pass of our own to Artavis Scott.

8th drive, 0:27, Wake 38, 17-14 Clem

#2 DL and BB in, Nickel, PA IZ, poor pass rush, throw over the middle and a PI on KEARSE, 15 yards, no replay on that one but the announcers thought it was obvious, they need about 13 yards for a FG attempt with Weaver...

1st and 10, CU 47, Nickel NB smoke SDE drop, DeFinger caves in the pocket and forces a throw away...:08 left, TIMEOUT WAKE...Nickel C1 WLB smoke, dropback, nice bull rushes this time, throws to shallow crosser, well defended by KW, incomplete...:04 left, TIMEOUT WAKE...Dime of Doom, Hail Mary, Barnes runs him out of the pocket, JJ SELFISHLY tries to pick it off in the endzone, KNOCK IT DOWN!, Robert Smith is up in JJs grill immediately for that crap, good leadership Robert, PERSONAL FOUL HANDS TO  THE FACE on Barnes, 15 yards and 1 untimed down...TIMEOUT CLEMSON, Dabo calls timeout and spends the entire time letting JJ have it...50 yard FG is GOOD...Halftime

The penalty gives them a free FG Attempt

Halftime Thoughts

79 yards given up (0 rushing yards) and yet I think most of us are unhappy with the defensive performance in the first half, particularly the first quarter.

14 of their points came off turnovers and the other 3 off of a penalty.

I thought they could give us some trouble and they played a clean 1st quarter but I didn't expect us to be this flat in a nationally televised game either.  I'll give credit to Dabo for recognizing that and letting his emotions run wild.  I really think the players needed that and responded to it.

Also from an emotion standpoint, I felt like Wake's players made a poor decision to celebrate so much when they tied it at the end of the half.  Maybe they were just celebrating how hot their cheerleaders are. Anyway, we now go back to the locker room and think about that (the celebration, not the cheerleaders) for 20 minutes.  Hopefully we come out more excited to play.

We are playing lots of cover one and cover four which are predominately man to man situations for the DBs.  They seem content to not challenge us deep on the outside.

3rd QUARTER

We convert a 4th and 1 in their territory and then the drive stalls. FG is Good by Lakip.

9th drive, 10:11, WF 21, 20-17 Clem

Nickel, IV QB keep, first time they've run this tonight, Barnes runs under the pulling OG (bad decision), The Gambler cleans it up and gets him for a 1 yard gain...Nickel C1 NB smoke, dropback, TE stick route complete, great throw, TS gambled for the knock down and missed, Serine gets 17 before he is belted (and not for the last time tonight) by Robert Smith...

1st and 10, WF 38, 4-3 Over C1 Sam smoke, ZR give to the RB, TS takes on the OG with the correct inside leverage, but SA is out of position clearly worried about the TE, SA recovers and smacks the RB with a bellringer, gain of 8...HUNH, Nickel BCB smoke vs. trips wide, we are lined up incorrectly with Wiggins and Anthony both in the slot taking #3 leaving #2 uncovered, Kearse is screaming and pointing but they don't hear, PA IZ, quick curl to #2 WR, gain of 8, first down, geez...

1st and 10, CU 46, HUNH, Nickel C4, dropback, timing route on the outside and the QB is late, The Gambler dives and knocks it down, incomplete...Nickel, same comeback on the outside, this time The Gambler holds him, easy call, yet Dabo goes ape$%^&, PASS INTERFERENCE Garry Peters...

1st and 10, CU 37, 4-3 Under, max protect into TE delay, BB jams the TE, deep fade at Mac, overthrown, incomplete,  good coverage...Nickel C1 WLB bullet, dropback, excellent coverage, rolls left and throws it away, incomplete...Nickel C1 WLB bullet on 3rd and 10, IZ underneath Beasley, SA with a perfect tackle, gain of 1...54 yard FG is missed

Dabo and the coaching staff still trying to make an effort to fire these guys up as they run off the field.

On offense, we fumble a wide open option pitch (Do Rodney and Terry have any eligibility left?) on 4th down. Nothing but green in front of him.  Should've just kicked the FG there and put some more pressure on their offense to generate points. Now they get the ball back down just 3.

10th drive, 2:27, WF 17, 20-17 Clem

Nickel C2, PA IZ, Beasley beats the LT and Jarrett breaks through and somehow they miss the sack, QB takes off and Barnes runs him down from the backside, gain of 6...Nickel C1 WLB bullet, QB makes a bad decision to throw to a crosser with KW and SA ready to make a sandwich, Jarrett tips it, incomplete, Palmer, "he is very lucky Anthony didn't turn the lights out there"...Nickel C1, dropback, good pressure, QB has the TE on a crosser but doesn't throw it, QB runs out of there, SA gets him a yard short of the sticks, gain of 3...PUNT

They down the punt on our 1 yard line.

4th QUARTER

We go 3 and out from our own 1. Watch for trickeration on 1st down!!

11th drive, 15:44, WF 47, 20-17 Clem

Nickel C4 WLB delay bullet, PA bubble screen, screen and go with the TE, 4 Tigers hit the QB as he throws (Beasley gets banged up in the collision), and Robert Smith arrives on time and crushes the TE dislodging the ball, textbook play if this was 1993, TARGETING AND EJECTION on Robert Smith, 15 yards...

My opinion of the hit is that this was not a dirty hit and it could've been had he led with his head.  This was a shoulder to chest shot with minimal head contact. The TE certainly got the wind knocked out of him but his head did not snap back and his head did not whiplash into the ground when he fell.  If this is an illegal hit, then they should just call the penalty, "Too Hard of a Hit" and change the rule.

Secondarily, and most importantly, the ACC offices have not over-turned the call and Smith will miss the 1st half of the GT game.

"The initial forceful contact has to be to the helmet for that to be targeting," said ACC Coordinator of Officials, Doug Rhodes, while viewing the replay. "That initial contact is below the head and in the chest area so I think they're going to reverse that. Even though the helmets make contact, that isn't, in and of itself, targeting."

My next question is...whose decision is it to decide not to overturn the suspension if it's not the ACC Coordinator of Officials?

1st down, CU 38, Nickel, OZ, Lawson handles his blocker but can't quite make the play, SA cleans it up for a gain of 3...HUNH, Nickel, IZ, OG gets to the 2nd level to take out SA, BB runs him down for a gain of 12...

1st down, CU 23, Nickel WLB bullet, sprint draw, SA reads it perfectly and turns him into Watson for the tackle, no gain...Nickel BOSS SDE Drop, flag route at The Gambler, Gambler wraps him up for no reason, PASS INTERFERENCE Garry Peters...

1st down, CU 11, 4-3 Under WLB Smoke, IZ, Jarrett, Goodson, and Lawson corral him and BB does a flying Polamalu style aerial attack to help put him down, loss of 1 ...Nickel C4, TE Lead, BB and Jarrett smash him for a loss of 1, beautiful...Nickel C1 on 3rd and 12, dropback, fade at the Gambler, Gambler disrupts it but doesn't get his head around, fortunate to not get another PI or have it caught, incomplete...FG is good...tied in the 4th quarter, geez

At least it didn't last long as Scott scores on the jet sweep on the first play. Stoudts passing stats get a major boost.

12th drive, 10:53, WF 25, 27-20 Clem

Nickel BCB Smoke, dropback, looking for the comeback on the outside, The Gambler gets in on the block party and knocks it down on the blitz, incomplete...Nickel, Kearse comes down inside the box, dropback, great jam by Peters on the WR, looking for the TE on a pivot route inside, Watson gets up to keep the block party going, TE was open, incomplete...Nickel on 3rd and 10, max protect, good pass pro, Reader finally breaks through and forces him out of the pocket where he throws it away...PUNT

There's the 3 and out with 0 yards gained. Good job across the board.

On offense, we get a nice drive capped by a Gallman 30 yard TD run.

13th drive, 6:36, WF 25, 34-20

Nickel, bubble screen, Don't run bubble screen on The Gambler, nearly a pick 6, incomplete...Nickel TT stunt, they try a pick route on Gambler and BB but they cover it well, Jarrett comes around on the stunt and flushes him backwards out of the pocket and into Crawford who gets the sack, loss of 17...Nickel ET stunt on 3rd and 27, IZ, Crawford barrels through inside on the loop and gets the RB for a loss of 3...PUNT

-20 yards on that drive for Wake without the aid of penalties. Awesome job.

14th drive, 3:34, WF 35, 34-20

Nickel, dropback, quick slant caught in front of The Gambler for 8...HUNH, Nickel, dropback, good coverage, sacked by Reader and Watson, loss of 2...HUNH, Nickel, dropback, flushed out of the pocket and throws it away...Nickel on 4th and 4, trying a stack route at The Gambler and TS, not enough time as Lawson comes in and buries the QB for the Shaq Sack...TURNOVER ON DOWNS

15th drive, 0:57, WF 23, 24-20

Martin Aiken and Kevin Dodd in at DE, Nickel, IZ, into a pile up the middle, gain of 2...Nickel, IZ, into a pile up the middle, gain of 2...TIMEOUT WAKE, ok...Nickel, IZ, gain of 5...END OF GAME

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY:

Stats:

8 penalties for 75 yards in this game and a lot of them were poorly timed and provided Wake with drive continuing 1st downs.  We don't need to be giving away free first downs to GT's offense.

National Rankings

Tackles For Loss: 1st

3rd Down Conversion %: 1st

Total Defense: 2nd

Opponent Yards per Rush: 2nd

Red Zone Attempts Allowed: 2nd

10+ yard plays allowed: 2nd

Opponent Yards per Pass Attempt: 4th

Sacks: 4th

20+ yard plays allowed: 10th

Scoring Defense: 12th

Turnovers Forced: 82nd

Red Zone TD %: 65th

Advanced Stats

Overall F/+: 18th (GT 17th)

Off F/+: 46th (GT 2)

Def F/+: 1st (GT 70)

Offensive Line Rank: 100th (GT 4th)

Defensive Line Rank: 8th (GT 89th)

So, next week will be 1D vs. 2O when we face GT. Can't wait.  I think the more important matchup will be out 46O vs. their 70D.  We have to put some points on the board and limit mistakes.

The eye test says...

Tyshon Dye looks like a stud, runs like a stud...must be a stud.  I enjoyed seeing him "ring the bell" of a couple DBs in limited carries.  After about a quarter of that, DBs will start arm tackling and ankle diving.

Dye is your big, tough, one cut, straight ahead, professional style runner.  I'm trying to think of the last one we had and it's just been so long.  I guess I'll go with Chad Jasmin so I can remind everybody of "63-17" and "The Finish." You're welcome.  Dye is the kind of guy that if he can get to the 2nd and 3rd level, he can punish and wear down LBs and DBs.  I'm sure he's not 100% right now so I'm reserving judgment until next year but having the willingness to accelerate into defenders is half the battle.

On defense, this was an uninspired "B game" performance and yet still completely dominant physically and athletically.  I'm not going to read too much into this performance because the D has been carrying us for so many weeks now that they were overdue for an uninspired quarter or three.  This performance might have gotten us beat against a better opponent but, that's the problem, this was not at all a better opponent. I'll credit Wake for playing a clean 1st quarter and for clawing, scratching, and fighting to keep pace with us into the 4th quarter.  They're going to continue to give us trouble in the near future.

I'm disappointed that we were poor in our response to sudden change which was a regression to how we performed in the previous few years. We gave up too many penalties which was also a regression back to previous years.

The bottom line is that, while we had a dip in performance this week, I'm not going to sit here and tell you the sky is falling when it isn't.   I've watched a lot of football this year and I can honestly say that we are rolling out some of the best defensive talent in the nation.  However, when good talent is not emotionally involved in the game, they can look pedestrian at times in the same way that average teams can become world beaters when they are 100% into it.  When the two circumstances collide like they did last Thursday, you get a pretty close game.  I mean, have you ever seen a team celebrate a half-time ending FG like that?  They wanted to deliver against us badly.

That being said, this performance by the defense will be unacceptable on Saturday against Georgia Tech.  I am going with the assumption that, with the Orange Bowl on the line, the fire will be back.  Beasley and Crawford were nicked up a bit so, I hope the 10 days between games helps them be 100% for the nerds on Saturday.

PLAYER REVIEW:

Game Ball: Grady Jarrett (he had a bad couple plays early on but was completely disruptive and unblockable after that).

All American Level Performance:  Grady Jarrett, Stephone Anthony

All ACC Level Performance: Vic Beasley, Shaq Lawson (his best game of the year), Tarvaris Barnes, Robert Smith

Solid:  Everybody else except for

Less than solid:  Jayron Kearse (allowed a TD on a misread, got a PI call that led to a FG), Jadar Johnson (tried to selfishly intercept a Hail Mary), Garry Peters (got picked on and had issues, 2 critical PI calls for first downs)

Past Game Balls: Robert Smith (Georgia), Stephone Anthony (SC St., FSU, BC), Garry Peters (UNC), Vic Beasley (N.C. St.), Jayron Kearse (Louisville), Grady Jarrett, (Syr)