Finally and without further ado.
Here’s what I picked up on while re-watching the game:
• EJ Manuel says we’re going to find out a lot about Wake Forest. Not sure what else he needs to see.
• “This budding ACC rivalry”? Uh, that’s not the level of respect you show #TheRivalry, Chris Cotter.
• Jamie Newman gathers the Beef Boys for a little pre-game talk — I’m sure that’s not the first time he’s done that, but I’ve never noticed it.
• Prescient Mark Herzlich: Whichever defense adjusts the best midgame will win this. Halftime score was 17-17, and then Wake Forest’s defense didn’t surrender a score until it had a two-score cushion in the fourth quarter.
• Boston College entered the game averaging 252 rushing yards per game. Boston College had 252 rushing yards in this game.
• Wake Forest’s starting defensive line was: Rondell Bothroyd, Sulaiman Kamara, Tyler Williams and Boogie Basham. If starting three defensive tackles doesn’t tell you how much of an emphasis the Deacons had on stopping — or at least slowing — the power-run game, I don’t know what does.
• Luke Masterson started at rover, Trey Rucker at safety. When Rucker came out, it was Traveon Redd at safety, with Masterson staying at rover. In past games when Masterson and Redd have both been in the game, Masterson is at safety and Redd is at rover. Masterson is 6-2, 220; Redd is 6-0, 195. Everything about Wake Forest’s game plan was about stopping the run.
(which isn’t rocket science, just interesting to note commitment)
• Whoa, on the second play AJ Dillon gets swarm-tackled and whistled down, but Redd comes away from him with the ball. If that whistle is a half-second later, might have been Deacons’ ball at the 20-yard line.
• Third-and-10 conversion, not sure how there’s that big of a hole in the coverage.
• So, Boston College starts with a third-down conversion. The Eagles were 1-for-11 the rest of the game. Wake Forest’s defense is ninth in the country in third-down defense, allowing conversions at a 25.7% clip.
• That’s great anticipation by Amari Henderson on the interception. See my Twitter feed for the video. Or maybe I’ll figure out how to embed tweets here.
Amari Henderson does a great job of baiting Anthony Brown into this throw. Watch him step up for short route, then sag.Also: Bermuda Boyz celebration at end. pic.twitter.com/wZ5FUUgmHn— Conor O'Neill (@ConorONeillWSJ) September 30, 2019
• Brown had not thrown an interception this season. As you’re probably aware, he throws another one in the second half. Wake Forest won the turnover battle 2-1 against a team that entered the game with a 10-1 advantage on the season.
• 8-yard run for Cade Carney on Wake Forest’s first play — his longest run of the game. Finished with 24 carries for 58 yards.
• [Sheila Broflovski voice] What what what?! Before third-and-1, Wake Forest’s offense … huddled.
Some Dave Clawson on that:
“If you noticed, we changed up what we did in short yardage today,” he said.
I pointed out they made substitutions, and he elaborated:
“We made substitutions, we played with more tight ends, we got Cade as a lead-blocker instead of just — you know, every play we made sure Cade was in for all of those,” Clawson continued. “As a coaching staff and a team — a lot of good things we were doing, we weren’t happy with our short-yardage and that type of stuff.
“Give our offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero a lot of credit. He works like crazy and he solves problems, and he came up with a different package today and we were — I think today we were perfect in short yardage. I don’t think there was one short yardage we didn’t get.”
• Carney probably got a generous spot on the third-and-1 run, but I thought Newman got hosed on the second-and-2 spot, so that evened out.
• Fifth play, Boston College’s John Lamot shoots the middle and blows up the mesh, Newman turns it into an 8-yard run.
• Oh yeah, lost track of this: Carney became the 13th player in school history to eclipse 2,000 career rushing yards. Which is more impressive considering he shared the backfield for three years with one of the members of the club, Matt Colburn II.
• Carney’s 5-yard touchdown made possible by massive blocks in the middle by Zach Tom and … Jack Freudenthal.
Like Cam Serigne before him, Freudenthal is an honorary Beef Boy when he blocks a linebacker on between-the-tackles run.
• Trey Rucker can hit hard.
• Hard to be a power-run offense when you run back-to-back screens that lose 3 yards each. On the first, Kobay White just loses footing. But on the second, Bothroyd and Essang Bassey make a really good play to stay home as Zay Flowers tries to find an opening.
• Hell of a job by Sage Surratt to still come up with the ball while getting drilled on the punt.
• Third-and-10 and a 34-yard acrobatic catch by Scotty Washington. He had Wake Forest’s first three catches for 58 yards.
• This was third-and-goal from the 3, even though the TV graphic says third-and-3. The chain crew screwed up and was still holding distance markers, even though series started inside (or right on) the 10-yard line.
• So, third-and-goal from the 3: I don’t love the empty backfield QB draw. Boston College had it well-diagnosed.
• Nick Sciba up to 16 straight made field goals, goes to 17 with his second-half field goal. Longest active streak in the country continues.
• Went to commercial break with Newman on the phone with Ruggiero, came back from break and he’s still on the phone. What I would give to listen in on those conversations for a game …
• Ja’Sir Taylor and Redd misfit a run and boom, there’s Dillon breaking off a 33-yard run. Touchdown-saving tackle by Nasir Greer — stop me if you’ve heard that before.
“The one thing I thought we did a great job on defense today, we just — we got the ball down. They made some big plays, they had long runs, they had speed sweeps, but we got the ball down,” Clawson said. “They didn’t become 70-, 80-, 60-yard plays like a year ago. Last year we didn’t get those plays on the ground. This year we got those plays on the ground, we lived to play another play.”
• Good work by Clawson and coaching staff on sideline to plead for review on Flowers stepping out of bounds. Difference of 11 yards and allowed the defense to gather itself.
• Flowers, by the way, is really exciting to watch.
• Bothroyd is an emerging star. He makes more and more impact plays each week. He’s also a Connecticut native and had a huge ovation from fans waiting for him after the game. He said he had about 50 people there to see him.
• Boston College went 2-for-3 on third downs in the first quarter, 0-for-9 for the rest of the game.
• David Bailey, I mean … it’s almost unfair to have him be the “change of pace” to Dillon. Nothing changes. He’s just as violent a runner.
• First play of the second quarter, Tyler Williams drives the left guard back and makes initial contact on Dillon behind the line — which is one of the keys to limiting his effectiveness. Getting Williams back for this game, as I wrote in the five takeaways, was incredibly important.
Filed under: getting Tyler Williams back healthy was really important. pic.twitter.com/Fr7LJyF5w2— Conor O'Neill (@ConorONeillWSJ) September 30, 2019
• The fourth-and-3 conversion on a throw back across the formation to a tight end who leaked out — I mean, it’s hard to get upset about that if you’re Lyle Hemphill, I think. Fourth down, you’re selling out to stop the boot, tough situation to stay disciplined.
• Third-and-goal snap and Brown wasn’t expecting the ball. Fantastic reflexes to even catch it.
• Herzlich needs to befriend the pronunciation guide for the next game he does.
• All three field goals in this game were 22 yards, all three going the same direction. Weird.
• 20-yard run by Christian Beal-Smith is a really good run, and really good blocking from Tom and Sean Maginn to seal the right side of the hole.
• Newman sacked on the ensuing first down because Max Richardson just blows up Beal-Smith.
• I didn’t realize the third-and-14 deep ball to Surratt was as bad of a drop as it was.
• Dom Maggio had punts of 53 and 60 yards in the second quarter — when Wake Forest was going into the wind.
• Bailey breaks off a 26-yard run on the first play of this drive, and looks like Strnad and Ryan Smenda Jr. were caught making a check while the ball was snapped.
• Smenda has to take better angles.
• Flowers for the touchdown, nice job of Herzlich and ACCN wideshot to show how he got that wide open. Redd over-commits on play action, Flowers is easily open over the top.
• Thought Steve Claude had a decent chance on third-and-9 throw along Boston College’s sideline, but decent defense on the play.
• This is a critical drive for the defense, having just surrendered two 80-plus-yard drives that evaporated the 10-0 lead.
• Sulaiman Kamara with a big tackle on first down, wrapped up Bailey through his block, and he would’ve gotten to second level if he hadn’t been tackled there.
• Nice throw by Brown on second down.
• Williams again, slips the right guard and right tackle and is waiting in the hole on third-and-2 before Bailey can get going downhill.
To repeat: Getting him back last week against Elon was so important, even if it was a pretty nondescript game for him, so that he could get up to game speed for this one. Because Wake Forest needed him, and he delivered.
• Newman breaks off the 50-yard run on third-and-1; huge, huge play. First, Nathan Gilliam pulls and gets the key block on Lamot. And there’s still not that much of a hole there, but Newman squeezes through and the rest of Boston College’s defense over-pursues.
I gave Newman a little good-natured ribbing for not breaking away for the score.
“You couldn’t break away on that one?”
“Well I mean, save the energy to throw a tuh- on the next play, you know what I’m saying?”
Fair enough — although he threw the touchdown to Surratt six plays later.
• Fantastic throw and catch to Kendall Hinton to convert third-and-6, and it’s the same thing Wake Forest does later, on the final drive, to convert one of those three crucial third downs.
• First-and-goal from beyond the 5-yard line, the extended zone-read needs to be thrown out. That’s the worst possible situation for it.
• There’s the Surratt touchdown. I mean, it’s just like he’s grabbing a one-handed rebound while taking a loose-ball foul. Crazy hand-eye coordination. And about as much emotion out of Surratt as I can remember seeing — he’s pretty stoic. In the words of his brother a few weeks ago, “he’s a silent assassin.”
• The camera still loves Traveon Redd’s dad and his No. 1 prop hand.
• [this is where I ran out of steam doing this Sunday night, and had to resume Monday night. I didn’t resume doing it until Monday night because Monday morning/afternoon I was in Cary for the SAS Championship media day. My team finished tied for first, but lost on a scorecard playoff. I’ll try not to let bitterness bleed through.]
• Forgot Boston College had a big kick return to set up the score before halftime. Not exactly sure whose fault it was that he broke through, Redd had a shot, but that was a horrible time to allow a big return.
• Jet sweep to Flowers and Wake Forest strings it out nicely, Henderson there to clean it up.
• I have no idea how Brown gets away from Williams and Bothroyd. Sometimes he really looks good; sometimes he really looks bad. He looked both ways in this game.
• Strnad creates a TFL, slicing up the field before center Alec Lindstrom could block him.
• Screen to the tight end goes for 10 yards, setting up a fourth-and-1 that Boston College converts. So, not a third-down conversion, but not exactly a third-down stop. If Greer or Smenda makes a tackle for 5- or 6-yard gain, different decision for Steve Addazio.
• Brown has all day to throw and finds White over the middle for 20 yards. First game of the season that Wake Forest didn’t have a sack.
• Poor job by TV producer to have us watching highlights as Boston College takes snap on touchdown.
But, just a simple boot. Wake Forest’s defense caught out of position.
• It’s perplexing to me that the Deacons didn’t try to put together a drive with 41 seconds left and all three timeouts.
• Did not realize Brown was 14-for-16 in the first half. Means he was 7-for-13 in the second half.
• There goes Cotter with more “budding rivalry” talk and the second half is underway.
• Pretty uninspired three-and-out to start the second half for Wake Forest’s offense.
• Dillon breaks an 18-yard run on the first play and Smenda misfit the run or took a bad angle. Not his best game.
• Dillon loose again. Wake Forest’s defense looks tired — which sounds crazy for it being the fourth play of the half. Maybe just needed to get revved up.
• Wake Forest didn’t have a sack in this game, but Luke Masterson put a couple of hits on Brown that seemed to rattle him a bit.
• Fantastic break on the ball by Essang Bassey for the fourth-down interception. His first since the second game of last season against Towson.
Just a fantastic break on the ball by Essang Bassey. pic.twitter.com/qRFnFtRj48— Conor O'Neill (@ConorONeillWSJ) October 1, 2019
• I have no idea what Wake Forest’s first play of this drive was supposed to be. Weird breakdown.
• Magnificent play by Freudenthal to settle into a soft spot of the zone, make himself available, and then get an additional 7-8 yards after the catch.
• Good 10-yard scramble to convert a third-and-4 by Newman. Lamot came on a blitz, picked up by Zach Tom, and Newman saw there was no spy or delayed rusher and didn’t have a better option for a throw.
• Justin Herron had a good block in the hole on Newman’s 7-yard keeper. Him and Jake Benzinger — really all of the Beef Boys — are playing at high levels.
• Another really good play by Freudenthal on this drive, converts third-and-11 with a 12-yard catch. He can work the middle of the field — Wake Forest shouldn’t forget him (or the other three typical middle options) in the name of throwing to Surratt and Washington.
• 10 tackles in the first half, seven in the second for Lamot. He had 17 tackles total in four previous games.
• Another pass over the middle, another third-down conversion; this time to Hinton.
• Curious if Newman thought he had a free play on fade to Washington, or if that’s where the ball was going all along. Either way, think it was a missed pass inference in the end zone. Washington could only try to one-hand catch it because his other hand was being held.
• Jason Maitre was defending Washington on the first-down play and on third down, which I think Washington had a better chance to catch. Still a ton of contact.
• Nasir Greer is blossoming, as Clawson said a couple of weeks ago. Really, really good safety.
• False start on Loic Ngassam Nya is Wake Forest’s first penalty of the game with 2:47 left in the third quarter.
It’s simple and obvious, yet so important: Wake Forest won’t beat itself. Turnovers are limited (one’s coming soon, the third straight game Newman has thrown an interception) and penalties are rare. The Deacons are second in the country with 3.2 penalties per game, trailing Rice (2.4).
• Surratt is so dangerous with picking up yards after the catch.
• There were Kenneth Walker III’s only two carries of the game, both for 4 yards, two plays apart.
• Excellent throw on third-and-3 with pressure coming by Newman, and excellent by Surratt.
He only had four catches, his season-low, but they were an important four.
• And there’s Newman’s interception. Think it’s just an overthrow trying to hit Walker down the seam.
• It’s a catch. Come on. Play. [ban all replay reviews other than in tennis]
• 17-yard run, 33-yard catch-and-run for Dillon. Wasn’t much resistance on either play — the run was a misfit and the pass was over-commit on play action.
• If I’m Hemphill or any other member of Wake Forest’s defensive staff, I’m spending a portion of the next week working on defending screens and rollouts/bootlegs.
• I wouldn’t feel comfortable in job security if I’m Boston College’s special teams coordinator.
• On the blown field goal: Strnad looks like he made a great play to knock the ball down, and I gave him credit in the moment for knocking it down rather than intercepting it – the difference in about 30 yards of field position.
He wanted none of the credit.
“I collided with someone — was it Essang? Yeah, we collided. But as they were saying, it was actually a good thing because obviously,” Strnad said, trailing off, and then responding to being asked if he really wasn’t just trying to knock it down. “I’m not going to take credit for that, no. … I’m just being honest.”
• Freudenthal’s PBU to prevent an interception is probably his most-important play of the game.
• There’s a good play from Smenda. Not all bad.
• 50-yard punt by Boston College’s Grant Carlson is only net 33 because of Surratt’s return.
• There’s a strange amount of New York Jets commercials on ACC Network.
• Clearly not a fumble, and was a forward pass, on Wake Forest’s first play of the eventual touchdown drive
• Next play, 26-yard catch-and-run by Hinton. Looked smooth and fluid — and word from Clawson after the game was that Hinton still wasn’t quite 100% for this game.
• Offsetting penalties on the play before Washington’s touchdown catch.
• And now Washington’s touchdown catch, explained by himself:
“Jamie, he threw a great ball. It was third down, I knew I had to come down with it. So I just went up, high-pointed it and came down with it,” Washington said. “It was a big one, we needed that. It was a big play, just glad I could come down with it.”
If this wasn't on You got Moss'd, why even have the segment? pic.twitter.com/CIHvqQHFgs— Conor O'Neill (@ConorONeillWSJ) October 1, 2019
• They’ve gotta stop calling Washington a former basketball player. His father played basketball. Not him.
• Clawson was irate, and for good reason, about the too many men on the field call. Boston College subbed with Dillon coming out and Bailey coming in, but I’m guessing refs didn’t see it because the play ended on the sideline and Dillon just stayed there.
Not excusable, just probably why it was missed.
• Down 10 with less than 10 minutes left, Boston College had a 10-play, 65-yard drive for a touchdown — and the only pass was the running back’s touchdown pass.
• It was a nice drive, though. With 10 minutes left and down two scores, there’s not that much of a need to go fast — you’re not counting on Wake Forest swallowing up six minutes when you give the ball back, especially because in the second half, the Deacons had one 20-play drive and the next-longest was seven.
• Really impressive thrown on the run from Bailey, too.
• Bassey comes up too far and immediately knows it when the tight end runs by him and doesn’t block him.
• The “hoo hoo hoo hoo” from Herzlich is a little too exuberant for an objective announcer, but that’s been the only issue in that regard in this game, I think.
• OK, here we go with Wake Forest’s final drive.
• Good call on the first play to have Newman complete an easy pass over the middle to get a little rhythm.
• It’s way too obvious right now that when the Deacons go empty, Newman is going to keep on a designed run.
• The guards, Nathan Gilliam and Sean Maginn, had really good blocks on the third-and-1 conversion that was a Newman run up the middle.
• That’s a beautiful route by Hinton on third-and-6 for the 9-yard catch. Really good throw by Newman, too.
• And then an excellent throw and catch for the Freudenthal third-down conversion. Herzlich is right, Wake Forest just replaces the blitzers with where the football is going. If teams are going to middle-blitz to stop the RPO, that’s where the ball has to start going on hot reads to tight ends and slots.
• The direct snaps need to be scrapped.
• Geez that’s maybe the fifth time or more that ACCN has been showing replays while the ball is being snapped. That’s on the producer. You’ve gotta be better than that.
• But an excellent punt from Dom Maggio. He had a really good game before that punt, and then that was perfect. I asked him about his approach to that moment.
“You like to think you thrive in those moments, right? I mean, you get a few chances and that one really counted, and I wanted to make it count,” Maggio said. “Everyone did a great job and I was just happy to help the team seal the deal there.”
• Another “Nasir Green.” It’s not that hard.
• Good timeout with 4 seconds left by Clawson to make sure the defense is set and at least a little more rested. Always think that should be done more often by teams in the lead in these situations when the clock is stopped.
• The final play: I’ll admit, when Bailey threw across the field to Brown, I thought it was trouble for Wake Forest because he had most of his offensive line in front of him. Really good play by Bassey to wait to deliver the hit, which effectively seals it.
Here’s Strnad on how much the defense practices — or doesn’t — for those plays:
“That’s when you’ve just gotta play football, run to the ball as hard as you can and that’s what we did,” he said.
So it’s like the little kids play where you just tackle whoever has the ball?
“Exactly, keep running, keep going.”
How much communication on plays like that?
“No, not when they start lateralling. It’s, go. Play football, backyard football. That’s exactly what it is,” Strnad said. “Obviously you’re pretty nervous out there, but trust and believe in our teammates that we’re going to hustle to make plays and that’s what we did.”
• “2-0 against ACC teams, 1-0 in the ACC.” It’s. Not. That. Hard.
• OK, that’s it. I don’t feel like watching what the Network’s folks have to say from the studio. It’s also Tuesday morning — this thing just needs to be finished.
Thanks for reading.