I counted eight times that a Duke defensive player was injured and one of them was a lot more obvious than any others that he got a signal from the sidelines to go down in the fourth quarter.
That’s deep into this one.
Here’s what I saw while re-watching the game:
• Extremely fitting that the first camera shot is the students in pouring rain.
So let’s get this out of the way: I have zero problem with the attendance. If you went, great. If you stayed home because you didn’t want to soak for two-plus hours, and then sit in the cold, that’s fine too.
• If I never listen to this funky country song intro for the ACC Network intro to Saturday night games again, it’ll be too soon.
• The earliest ever for this one: The camera loves Traveon Redd’s dad.
• The last two weeks dropped Jamie Newman’s per-game total-yardage average under 300 yards. After putting up 428 against Duke, he’s at 308.6 per game now.
• Zach Murphy with the opening kickoff and it’s fair to say that’s the best coverage of the night for Wake Forest. Zach Ranson and Kenneth Dicks III make a nice play to tackle Damond Philyaw-Johnson at the 18.
• Ja’Corey Johns makes the first tackle of the game (after whatever the hell Duke’s first play was, but Orlando Heggs II was open).
Johns has quietly had a pretty decent season, especially for a redshirt freshman who didn’t touch the field last season. He’s had 47 tackles, 7½ for loss, 2½ sacks and two QB hurries.
• Four-man rush on third-and-10, Sulaiman Kamara gets up the field to occupy the right guard and tackle, Boogie Basham slides inside to rush Quentin Harris’ throw.
• Wake Forest’s offense takes the field and the first eight plays were runs.
• 9-yard run by Jamie Newman on the first play, about 6 yards after contact.
• Sean Maginn started at left guard again (after a one-game absence from that role).
• Cade Carney turns the corner for 10 yards on the second play, and it looked like a few of the runs he had against Duke last season when he was able to turn the corner.
Some teams are easier to turn the corner against than others.
• Once — just, ONCE — Wake Forest has to throw out of the empty-backfield look.
• Nate Gilliam with a great block on Newman’s 9-yard run around the left edge, and then Newman with good speed to the outside.
• Third-and-7 run is blown up because Duke’s Edgar Cerenord gets into the backfield way too quickly, and then Koby Quansah makes a nice shoestring tackle on Newman.
• Fourth-and-7, strange route by Kendall Hinton short of the sticks on the sideline, if it had been completed anyway.
• Nice play on a jet sweet by Coby Davis. Also: Dicks is in at rover to start this series. Interesting.
• Great penetration on second down by Dion Bergan. He’s going to be like Zeek Rodney, I think: So much more valuable than cold, hard numbers will ever indicate.
• Johns with a third-down pressure. I knew Duke’s offensive line wasn’t good — but they’re worse than I thought so far in this re-watch.
• Harris doesn’t field this snap on fourth-and-1 cleanly, I don’t think it’s a bad snap.
Wake Forest’s defense, though, looked well-positioned to stop any kind of run up the gut, to me. Rondell Bothroyd always seems to be around fumbles had the first shot at the recovery, Chase Jones is the one who actually comes up with it.
• Wake Forest won the turnover battle 3-0 — so the Deacons are plus-9 for the season. That’s strong.
• Victor Dimukeje is a really good defensive end — but his first sack, on this third-and-7 after two Carney runs, was about as easy as it gets. Didn’t realize until now Dimukeje was a high school teammate of Dom Maggio.
• Ah, yes. Our first replay review. Blame David Cutcliffe on this one.
• Keegan Good almost runs into the goal post, which is as good a chance as any to use this Clawson quote from earlier in the week:
“Keegan’s awesome. He has gone through two ACL repairs and rehabs, most players in that position have quit and not played, and it’s his last year here and he’s really helping our football team,” Clawson said. “I think everybody in our program, in our locker room, sees how hard he works, how much he cares, what a great teammate he is, and when a player who’s put into it what Keegan has, on that stage, makes that type of pick, everybody was thrilled for him.”
• So this sleep equipment cleaning contraption … man, I miss Pillows!
• Good penetration from Traveon Redd on a first-down QB keeper, good finish by Ja’Cquez Williams and Chase Monroe.
• Third-and-8 delayed handoff and Boogie Basham tracks it down from behind for a 6-yard gain, Duke punts.
Basham was honored for Senior Day and said he’ll make his decision on whether to return next season or enter the NFL draft after the Syracuse game.
“Kind of just what me and my family think is the best decision,” Basham said of what will factor into his choice. “Of course, I wouldn’t want to leave the guys, built some great relationships, but everybody moves on.”
• Two more dives into the line on first and second down — and this winds up being a really important play: Newman avoids a rush (not Jake Benzinger’s finest moment, but drove his man past Newman at least) and then fits a throw over the middle off his back foot to Hinton, who turns it into a 13-yard gain on third-and-7.
• Followed up by five straight carries by Kenneth Walker III, the first of which is a bruising 9-yard run.
Enjoyed finally getting to interview Walker after the game. He’s the first freshman to be interviewed this season.
• And here we have our first Duke defender injury, as Quansah is down. There’s 3:38 left in the first quarter — let’s see when he returns.
• Second-and-1, Walker goes sideways, makes one guy miss on a cut, breaks two tackles to pick up 9 yards. Clawson:
“Kenneth has that ability to make people miss. There’s a lot of runs that he bounces that we’re saying, ‘No, no, no,’ and then outruns the perimeter and makes a cut. He’s kind of the home-run hitter back there. He’s the big-play guy.”
• Quansah is back in the game. He took one play off.
• Walker’s last carry in this stretch is an 8-yard run and I love the way he works with a pulling Loic Ngassam Nya to set up his block. Also, Walker lost his footing here or it would’ve easily been a 15-20-yard gain.
• Cutcliffe takes a timeout because his defense wasn’t getting lined up against Wake Forest’s tempo — which provides more evidence some of these injuries were … uh … how to put this delicately … we’ll say … lies.
• Geez, that hood position on Cutcliffe really makes him look like Emperor Palpatine.
• Two more dives into the line on first and second down. See, I can understand frustration there because those are pass boxes. Duke has seven in the box, the eighth is close. Those should’ve been passes.
• Very nice of Dave O’Brien and Tim Hasselbeck to shout-out the story about Steve Claude.
He’s an incredible man. I went into those interviews thinking I knew a lot higher of a percentage of Claude’s story than I actually did. I told yall in one or two of these early film reviews that I hoped I could tell his story at some point this season — more than anything, I’m grateful to Claude and his mom, Latrebah Dixson, for being trusting enough to open up to me about themselves.
OK, now back to our regularly scheduled re-watch.
• 38-yard field goal by Nick Sciba, and the snap got a little inside on Dom Maggio but he got it down in time. Of course, Sciba is unbothered by that …
“The only thing I watch is his hand on the ground and I don’t take my eyes off that, so that can’t affect me either,” Sciba said of high snaps. “But I think it wasn’t necessarily high, but right at Dom’s hip, which Dom handled easily.”
• Oh wow, they even pulled out the Emery Sciba footage from the Louisville game. Jinxed the hell out of the first kick return touchdown.
• I mean … every player on the coverage unit gets locked up by a block other than Nasir Greer, who’s got contain in the middle of the field. Every player who was left of Murphy is locked in on a block — you’ve gotta be better than that and get off blocks.
I think this has been covered, but just in case: DeAndre’ Delaney was not in uniform because of an injury, and he’s been one of the best special teams players this season. Also worth noting that Justin Strnad and Luke Masterson were two of the more-reliable coverage players, too.
Not excuses, but for a team that doesn’t have a litany of preferred walk-on all-stars who can cover kicks, it’s a significant blow to be missing your best three best coverage players.
• First quarter ends. Wake Forest has 91 yards of offense*; Duke has 11. Duke leads 7-3.
* means the Deacons had 527 yards in the final three quarters.
• Hasselbeck points out that Duke has committed everybody to stopping the run on first and second down, which is correct. But he’s asking for a play-action pass, which Wake Forest doesn’t necessarily have in the playbook.
• That’s a fantastic play by Coby Davis on the forced fumble. Lowers his right shoulder/elbow right on to the ball. What’s cool to see about that is I feel like Davis has been lost a little bit, searching for his form before the torn ACL in the season-opening game of 2018. He had three tackles and this forced fumble against Duke — will be interesting to see if he follows it up next week.
• Gilliam down before this third-and-14. He returned by the start of the second half, if not sooner (that’s just the first time I noticed him come back).
• Pretty cool to have an in-game interview with Sage Surratt.
• Geez. Forgot about Wake Forest giving up a punt return to midfield. Keegan Good saved it from maybe being a touchdown. This one is on the players — too many missed tackles.
• There’s Duke’s only first down of the first half until the last two plays, which were conceded draws in the final 30 seconds.
Jalon Calhoun runs a wheel route from the slot and beats Greer — good route, good play call, good throw. I’m not Lyle Hemphill, I don’t know what should’ve been different there, if anything, to prevent it.
• Really strong first-down stuff by Ryan Smenda Jr., who had a team-high 11 tackles.
• And again on second down, it’s Smenda.
• Wow, stick all three of these plays in the vault for Smenda. Third-and-10 and the sophomore linebacker bull-rushes the running back and drives him backward into Harris, who throws early and high over the middle.
That’s why you’re patient with Smenda through some gaffes this season. He’s far from perfect, but he’s somebody you stick in the middle of your defense and let him learn, adapt and benefit from that experience later — meaning the latter stages of this season and the next two years.
• Hinton doesn’t pick up Newman’s pass deep — think it was a well-thrown ball — on first down.
• Which means the 12-yard run on second down was a sneakily important play, one that looked like Newman was going to be stopped for minimal gain until he breaks out to the left.
• And there’s a clutch play by Claude, the bobble/re-catch along the sideline that went for 7 yards on third-and-5.
Replay review, hooray!
• Oooh oooh oooh, Pillows!
• There’s Walker’s drop on the flare — gotta catch that, obviously.
• Touchdown run for Newman — first of all, great running by him. Smooth cuts and man, sometimes when he dives into the line on the slow mesh, you forget how fast he is.
But what really makes the play are blocks by Ngassam Nya, who pulls and kicks out the end, by Walker, who reaches a linebacker in the hole, and by Waydale Jones, who’s blocking the cornerback on that side of the field for the last 15-20 yards and has him locked up so Newman can cruise into the end zone.
I’d bet a substantial amount of money – for a reporter’s salary, at least — that Jones is shown that and told it’s attention to detail and doing things like that on every play, not just when thrown to, that’s going to be the difference between contributing in the future and not.
• Also: I didn’t realize until now that Newman went with the one bicep flex for a touchdown celebration, using his left shoulder (the one that was injured a month ago).
• That’s a lot of fruit snacks.
• I’d sky-kick everything for the rest of the season.
• Smenda comes on a third-down blitz and Harris rushes his throw (he didn’t necessarily have to), throws his tight end into the ground, basically, and he falls down without being able to run, a yard short of the first down.
So Harris to this point is 3-for-4 for 23 yards on third downs … with zero conversions.
• I refuse to believe there’s this big of a demand for something that cleans your sleeping machine or whatever they’re advertising.
• Nice throw and catch for 11 yards to Jack Freudenthal, who gets up with a little sauce in his first-down signal.
I mean, he’s earned that. Came to Wake Forest as a walk-on receiver, he’s told us he spent about three practices there before they laid out the plan for him to move to tight end.
• Fantastic play by Hinton on the 36-yard catch, and maybe an even better throw by Newman. Right where it needed to be.
• Randall Cobb is a fantastic comparison for Hinton.
• There’s our second Duke defensive injury, this time to Derrick Tangelo. (I didn’t see him come back on the drive, but he was at least back by Wake Forest’s second drive of the third quarter.)
• I can’t believe the empty-backfield draw worked on third-and-5.
• Second-and-8 screen to Hinton and it’s a touchdown if Carney gets downfield to block instead of trying to find somebody. Freudenthal and Claude get locked up on defenders, but Carney doesn’t get downfield and ends up hitting Hinton so it’s only a 2-yard gain. If he gets down the field and lays a block, it’s a touchdown.
• The 34-yarder to tie the NCAA record from Sciba was perfect.
And because this is where I stopped Sunday night and resumed Monday, I can say it’s lunacy that Sciba isn’t a finalist for the Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s best kicker.
• First-down sack for Basham as Duke tries to start a two-minute offense — and a pretty big celebration for a normally reserved player.
• Good discipline from Essang Bassey, Trey Rucker and Ja’Cquez Williams to hold a bubble screen to a minimal gain.
• On third down, I’ll bet this is the only mistake Basham made all night.
First of all, Ja’Sir Taylor makes a great play on a blitz from the nickel, and gets the sack-forced fumble. The more plays you see out of him, especially in these last two games, the more hope you cling to that cornerback won’t experience such a drop-off while losing two three-year starters next year.
Basham, though, has a shot to recover the fumble in traffic and doesn’t get it because he’s trying to scoop and score instead of falling on the ball. I’m not talking about it squirting around in his hands and facemask immediately, but when it’s on the ground, it’s there.
I mean … he played great. Had an incredible Senior Day. But it could’ve been even better.
• Taylor got his first career sack there and first career interception later.
• The end of the half took way too long.
• That’s an absolutely perfect punt from Maggio with 29 seconds left. Toward the sideline, killed it with a bounce in bounds, downed at the 15.
• Duke ran 24 plays in the first half and in the first 22 of them, only had one first down. Blue Devils get two first downs on the last two, which are runs to end the half.
• Great to see Mark Richt back to work.
• That halftime stat line on Newman — 6-for-12 for 74 yards, 17 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown, sacked twice — is about as good a representation of what his years at Graham looked like.
• Before a third-and-1, our third injury to a Duke defender. This time it’s defensive tackle Trevon McSwain.
• Good conversion on third down — Deacons were 10 of 21 in that category, by the way, while their defense held Duke to 1 of 11.
• Touchdown, Newman-to-Hinton. Another beautifully thrown deep ball from Newman — just so accurate, not sure Hinton breaks stride. And Hinton gets back in the end zone for the first time since the game-winner against Utah State.
“Jamie gave me a great ball and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get tripped up or not, but when I figured out I was good, in the clear, it was surreal to get back in the box,” Hinton said. “It’s been such a long time.”
• Ah, at the end of the play, Cerenord is down. Fourth Duke defense injury.
• Two shirtless guys in the student section. They — and whoever else might have joined them — were appreciated.
“Let me just say this too, the crowd wasn’t huge but to the people who were there, thank you,” Clawson said. “To come out in that weather and hang in with us, especially that student crowd that took their shirts off, you guys are awesome.”
• Wake Forest comes out in the second half and kicks deep to Philyaw-Johnson, who has a seam and gets to the 30 before a nice tackle by Chase Jones.
• Unfortunate over-pursuit on a 14-yard screen pass that jump-starts this Duke drive. Kamara the most-guilty party of over-running it, while Smenda was being held.
Also at the end of the play, Rucker is really fortunate he doesn’t make contact with Deon Jackson or he would’ve been called for targeting.
• Ja’Corey Johns swallows up a second-down run for minimal gain, nice play to come off of his block.
• Deacons get a taste of their own medicine on third-and-7 with a 10-yard run by Jackson. Guessing Duke was going to go for fourth down unless it was a TFL. Deacons dropped players out of the box.
That’s the only third-down conversion Wake Forest allowed.
• Third-and-14 and Harris has to get rid of it quickly because of a fantastic speed-rush by Basham. But it’s nice dump-off to the tight end, and the 8-yard gain might be the difference in Duke kicking the 43-yard field goal and punting.
• I wrote about Hinton’s Senior Day redux and all that, but what was also cool about this game was seeing Justin Herron go through it. Last year was weird when Ryan Anderson, Phil Haynes and Patrick Osterhage all went through it and Herron was in the end zone with them, able to watch but not have a shared experience with the three Beef Boys who all started together.
• Hey, McSwain is back in the game. Might have missed three plays (spanning Duke’s 11-play drive, too).
• Nice back-to-back catches for Freudenthal, the second of which converts a third-and-3.
• Claude deep.
Damn.— Conor O'Neill (@ConorONeillWSJ) November 24, 2019
• Walker breaks off about a 15-yard run to get inside the 20, but it’s called for a “hold” on Herron. I agree with Hasselbeck, it’s a pretty bad call.
• Dimukeje is a pro.
• Maggio proves that the Coffin corner punt isn’t dead.
• A little too easy for Duke to get out from the shadow of the goal post. Two runs by Mataeo Durant for a combined 14 yards, and then Harris runs for 17 on a pump-fake of a screen and keeper up the middle. Chase Jones was a little late on the read, I think he could’ve filled the hole.
• There’s Taylor’s interception and … I mean, he played it well and it was good coverage. But that’s really more of an awful throw by Harris than anything else.
• Walker breaks a 34-yarder on the first play. He bounces it out left — well, first of all, his patience for a freshman running back is off the freaking charts.
OK, so he bounces it left and the reason he’s able to do so it because Zach Tom and Herron seal the edge and get a secondary push they didn’t have against their assignments initially. That’s strong stuff from the Beef Boys.
• A couple more false starts in this game against the Deacons’ offensive line. Strange.
• Third-and-9 and there’s Waydale Jones’ 13-yard catch and run on an underneath crossing pattern. That could/(should) be a little confidence booster moving into the last two games.
• Here’s a nondescript 6-yard run by Walker — not so fast.
He gets stringed out right and comes up against the sideline and lowers his shoulder to plow through a couple of defenders and make what should’ve been a run for maybe 1 yard a 6-yard gain. That’s the extra yardage that wins games.
• Newman’s third-down pass is batted down. Because of Walker’s extra effort, Sciba’s record-breaking kick is from 44 yards instead of about 49 or 50.
• Way too easy 17 yards on Duke’s first play.
• Way too easy 22 yards on Duke’s second play. That one is tackling. The first one is soft coverage.
• Man, every time you think Rucker isn’t playing well, he comes up with a huge play. Here it’s just a textbook tackle on Jackson for a minimal gain to get Duke into a second down and quell the big plays on back-to-back snaps.
• Well damn. Rucker burned on the wheel route to the tight end.
Yin and yang with freshman safeties. Wake Forest will be better for it next year.
• One of the more-important 0-yard runs in Carney’s career on the lateral from Newman before he’s sacked, and instead of third-and-10 or more, it’s third-and-6 and the playbook is still pretty open.
• Not the greatest route by Claude on third-and-6 because he catches it a yard or two short, but has the sense to kind of twist and fall forward for a 7-yard gain.
• On repeat: Kendall Hinton’s instincts playing receiver, in this case his ability to sit down in the soft spot of zone coverage and immediately make himself available, is the most-impressive thing about his rapid evolution as a receiver.
• A 2-yard Carney run and the most-egregious — at least, to this point — fake injury of the night for Duke’s defense.
Just … watch Quansah look to the sideline, fall down, and then go to the ground as he looks at the umpire to make sure he’s not watching to see that it’s been signaled in to him.
I mean ... There's clearly a signal from the sidelines here for Koby Quansah to go down. He's barely involved in the play. pic.twitter.com/BX25IZAveN— Conor O'Neill (@ConorONeillWSJ) November 26, 2019
• Newman busts through for 25 yards, with two broken tackles and gets to the 13-yard line. He’s a bad, bad man.
• After a Walker run, Cerenord is down again. At least the medical staff is, you know, looking at him.
• Quansah back in the game. He missed two plays.
• But now Dylan Singleton is down. It’s the seventh time a Duke defensive player is down, but he’s only the fifth one — all of the others have been Quansah, Cerenord, Tangelo or McSwain. Of those five, only Tangelo is a non-senior.
I’m sure they’re just struggling in their old age.
• Third-and-2 from the 5 when we actually play football again, and this is where the Wild Cade fails. Clawson gave a better description than I can:
“We ran that third-and-2 and we wanted him to hammer the thing and he ended up bouncing it and losing yards, and we had to kick the field goal. We just said, ‘Cade, when we call your number in that situation, you’re the battering ram. We don’t want you to bounce those things.’
“He took it to heart. If you look at the way he ran the rest of the game, he wasn’t bouncing anything. He ran with low pad level and ran through arm-tackles, pushed the pile and did a great job.”
• Here’s the second kick return TD. They had been sky-kicking, but on the last one Philyaw-Johnson ran up to field it and nearly broke it … so I have no idea why the solution was then to kick deep.
Nasir Greer and Tyriq Hardimon had the cleanest shots at him and they both miss, and he’s off to the races.
• Cerenord is back in the game, so he missed two plays. I don’t see Singleton.
• Hinton goes 57 yards on a the slant. Good throw by Newman to hit him in stride. Honestly thought Hinton was going to score here.
• Walker scores on the next play, a 14-yard run through a couple of feeble tackle attempts. That was the 80th play of the game for Wake Forest’s offense, I believe. Duke was worn out.
“For the most part, it was pretty much the O-line. If it wasn’t for the O-line, you pretty much can’t do anything, so yeah,” Walker said.
• I’d love to know how you get a delay of game on a two-point conversion attempt.
• Here’s the most-important sequence of the game from Wake Forest’s defense:
First play: Jackson gets 5 yards, decent tackle by Ja’Cquez Williams.
Second play: Smenda and Davis blow up a jet sweep for Calhoun, 1 yard.
Third play: Great PBU by Greer.
• This one-handed catch by Donavon Greene is one of the best plays of the game, for the situation. It gets a small asterisk for being a free play because Duke jumped offside, but still — that’s a one-handed catch running full speed with a defender on your hip for 36 yards to convert a third-and-11 in a one-score ACC game with about 6½ minutes left …
That is a massive play for a freshman to make.
• Man … Quansah won’t be missed by the Deacons, I’d say. I’m astounded by how unnecessary it was to twist Newman’s knee/ankle like he does.
• Well, Hinton certainly looked natural taking his first direct snap in almost a year.
• Hasselbeck got something mixed up or fed the wrong info on saying Sam Hartman has played in four games. He’s played in two, and by holding him out in this situation, Wake Forest is freed for the last two games to have him as the backup without a restriction on his usage.
• Michael Carter II is the eighth Duke defensive timeout.
• Carney runs for 11 on fourth-and-1, Claude has a good block to seal it and Carney runs over a safety.
• Carney to the Greg Dortch pylon two plays later for the game-sealing touchdown. Greene had the block on the outside when it sprung left, too.
It’s late, and you know how things went from here.
OK, that’ll do it —
I never got around to finishing the re-watch of the Clemson. Actually only made it to halfway through the first quarter before it was time to write about Claude and everything else. The Sunday night road basketball game didn’t help my timing.
But here’s what I got from re-watching that opening segment of the Clemson game:
• Dabo Swinney runs down the hill faster than any player, catches up to the flag that’s in front of him and then turns and greets every player that runs past him.
It’s easy to watch that and feel like that’s a coach who would be pretty cool to play for.
• Loic Ngassam Nya starts for the first time in his career — he’s earned it, but I’m not sure this was the game to put him out there for the first time.
Hindsight obviously 20-20, but he false starts before the first snap. Which leads me to the quirkiest stat I’ve come across this season, I think.
• Good: Before Wake Forest takes its first snap, you can see the offense huddling and players coming in from the sideline to deliver the play. I wasn’t sure how much of that the broadcast picked up. The Deacons did this for several drives of the first half, but not all of them.
It’s completely out of character, I’m sure most of you know, and I think it’s done completely aware that Clemson’s staff is larger than any team Wake Forest plays — and hence, better at picking your signals.
Tigers probably don’t need to bang on a trash can to shut down most opponents, though.
• Newman keeps on the first play and I think he should’ve thrown the bubble screen to the left.
• If you remember the Florida State film review from last year — not the biggest Dan Orlovsky fan.
But he’s right about Newman and Warren Ruggiero needing to be on the same page, and they obviously weren’t.
• I’m not saying the ABC crew thought Justin Strnad is Sage Surratt … but while Orlovsky is talking about the missing receivers, Strnad is shown.
• Third-and-14 wasn’t even an RPO, just a stretch run into a six-man box. And it got blown up.
• Dom Maggio’s first punt goes 59 yards and gets returned 53 yards by Amari Rodgers. He catches the punt at the 19 moving backward, turns when he hits the 16 and there’s not a single Deacon in the camera frame.
One time, loud, for the people in the back: That is a terrible punt.
Here was Clawson on the long punts: “Dom has a great leg but those 60-yard punts, every time it happens it puts us in harm’s way, and I thought in the second half, Dom did the best job he’s done punting all year.
“I mean, he kicked it out of bounds and it was 45, 50 yards. And that’s what we need. When we hit those 60-, 70-yard bombs, I mean his first five punts he averaged 60 yards. And that doesn’t help us win against a team with the skill level that Clemson has.”
• An offense with, hmm, let’s see … I’ll guess four future first-round picks, and that doesn’t include Travis Etienne, doesn’t need to start its first two drives at your 28- and 41-yard lines.
• Simple first two plays for Clemson, Trevor Lawrence keeps a speed option up the middle for 10 yards, Etienne takes the next play up the middle for 4 yards.
• RPO slant to Tee Higgins for the touchdown from 14 yards out — Essang Bassey is right there in coverage, Higgins just ran a good route to get inside.
(edit: So after I typed this, was made aware that it was not Bassey’s route to have covered — that he was just stuck trying to make up ground for somebody else’s blown assignment.)
• I love the design and play call of this first play of the possession. Fake the bubble screen, get stacked deep routes and throw to the shorter one. Waydale Jones was open — just an excellent read and break on the ball by Tanner Muse.
Orlovsky points out the ball should’ve been throw earlier — I agree.
• That counter run out of the shotgun is so deadly. I don’t know much and I sure as hell don’t know how to defend that.
OK, I’ll try not to make this all about how good Clemson is. But … good Lord, they’re a complete team and they’re better at every single position.
• Trey Rucker was laying down some hard hits early in this game. As I believe I said last week, he and Nasir Greer will pretty much be the hardest-hitting duo of safeties in the ACC next year. Gotta come up with a name for them.
• Tyler Williams should’ve had Etienne tackled for about a 6-yard loss. Third-and-11 would’ve been a little easier to defend than third-and-2.
• Etienne up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown. Traveon Redd went above the line of scrimmage instead of meeting him in the hole.
• Now Wake Forest’s offense going with tempo, and Christian Beal-Smith gets 4 yards on first down.
That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. I have no idea why I stopped there, but here we are. Now I’m done.