Wake Forest's Christian Beal-Smith had a career-high 123 rushing yards against Louisville last week. 

I will not focus on the amount of replay reviews. I will not focus on the amount of replay reviews. I will not focus on the amount of replay reviews. I will —


There were too many.

Here’s what I picked up on while re-watching the game. You don’t have to read to the end, but for some insight on the Deacons’ QB situation for the Florida State game, scroll on down to the bottom:

• Stick-with-your-gut lesson for the ACC Network’s talking heads: If you first think "expect points," expect points.

• It was fall break for students and the Dixie Classic was across the street. I’m not going to harp too much on the lack of a crowd for this one.

Next weekend, however, will be a different story.

• Mekhi Becton walks out with Scott Satterfield to take the field. Reminds me: He’s a sight to behold out there. Just massive.

• Huh. Tim Hasselbeck points out something two weeks late: Scotty Washington’s catch at Boston College belonged on a You Got Moss’d segment.

• It’s lazy to point out, but the easiest harbinger to look at for the slow start was the false start by Justin Herron before the game’s first snap.

• And on the first real snap, a pass through Sage Surratt’s hands. That’s not as much the harbinger as where Louisville’s Anthony Johnson was — draped all over Surratt.

“That’s football. All corners have a different playing style, you know, those guys were a little more aggressive,” Surratt said when asked about how physical Louisville’s defensive backs were. “And you’ve just gotta play football, though.”

• Jamie Newman to Kendall Hinton for a 17-yard pass on third-and-15 — it’s surprising to me this didn’t get the drive going with some momentum. Incredible work after the catch by Hinton to peel off of two tackles.

• Misfire on third down — only the second time this season Wake Forest didn’t score a touchdown on its first possession (the other was the North Carolina game).

• Fantastic punt by Dom Maggio, and just seems like a miscommunication and tough play for Essang Bassey and Christian Beal-Smith, who both try to save the ball from going into the end zone.

• Rondell Bothroyd started at defensive end and crashed the backside too hard on the first play, and Ryan Smenda Jr. got drawn toward fake too far, and that’s how Micale Cunningham broke loose for a 32-yard run on the first play. Even Nasir Greer takes an awkward angle once Cunningham gets to the secondary.

• Much better on the second play for Smenda, who gets in front of Becton and combines with Greer for a TFL.

By the way, Wake Forest had 12 TFLs in this game — its most of the season. The Deacons had eight apiece against Rice, UNC and Elon. Odd, considering how many explosive plays they surrendered.

• Three-man pass rush with Boogie Basham … as the fourth/spy. Don’t think we’ve seen that this year, guessing it’s a way to better take advantage of Justin Strnad’s coverage skills.

• Louisville fails to convert on third-and-long; the Cardinals were 6-for-14, and that’s the best percentage (42.8%) against Wake Forest this season.

• Wow, first commercial break and there’s a 90-second spot for a pillow. Who told me about that on Twitter? It’s not that I didn’t believe you — I think I didn’t want to believe you. Yall had to watch 15 more of these?


• Double yikes – Clawson’s pre-game speech mentioning “the ball is the program,” and two plays later is Cade Carney’s fumble.

• You can get mad at Washington for whiffing on a block on the first play, a Hinton screen, but it’s also a really good diagnosis by the Louisville cornerback to get around the block. He misses the tackle, but disrupts Hinton enough that it’s a minimal gain.

• Rodjay Burns makes a play on the forced fumble. Shocking to see that from Carney.

• Smenda and Bassey misfit on the second play of this possession and it goes for 14 yards.

Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall didn’t hurt the Deacons that much, though — the Cardinals’ running backs combined for 90 yards on 31 carries. The Cardinals’ quarterbacks combined for 138 yards on 11 carries, though. That’s the bigger issue here.

• Hawkins makes one cut around Basham and speeds up the middle for a touchdown — and Wake Forest’s body language is awful.

• Back-shoulder throw to Surratt on the first play for 22 yards, beautiful.

• And then nothing. Screen right for 2 yards, screen left blown up for incompletion, and then Brandon Chapman drops a would-be first down over the middle.

To note: The offense seems somewhat predicated on running those quick-hitting bubble screens, but I can’t remember one going for more than 10 yards this season.

• Excellent punt by Maggio fair-caught inside the 10.

• Third defensive series and the defensive ends are Bothroyd and Ja’Corey Johns. So it appears Bothroyd is moving back out to end, which can be made possible with Tyler Williams, Dion Bergan Jr. and Sulaiman Kamara at tackles.

• Bothroyd and Bergan completely blow up a second-and-1 run, great play by both. Second-and-1 TFLs seem huge — unless you don’t get the third-down stop.

• Which doesn’t happen because Cunningham scrambles up the middle for 7 yards.

• Tutu Atwell looked good against Wake Forest last year, one of obviously a few bright spots for the Cardinals in that game.

• That’s a really smooth option for a 12-yard gain, Cunningham flicks it out to Keion Wakefield for 12 yards.

• Good stay-at-home play from Johns for a TFL. And then …

• Seth Dawkins finds a soft spot in zone coverage and with Cunningham on the run, catches and turns upfield, makes one move on Amari Henderson and is gone.

• Down 14-0, this felt like a crucial drive for Wake Forest.

• Katie George reports that Newman said Wake Forest “focused on maximizing rest and recovery” during the off week — which flies in the face of Clawson saying last week that they were giving the players too much rest, also confirmed in talking with Jack Freudenthal and Nate Gilliam. So, something is off there.

• Good route, good throw, good catch on 5-yard pass to Freudenthal to convert third-and-3.

• It’s a good thing Wake Forest was going fast, because I don’t think Scotty Washington’s fumble was a catch. Not sure he ever secured it.

• Ha, there’s a good bubble screen. Only goes for 8 yards, but a first down. I’m an idiot.

• Zach Tom, Sean Maginn and Kendall Hinton with really good blocks on Newman’s 9-yard keeper to convert third-and-3.

• The first-and-20 extended handoff was predictable.

• Third-and-19, 25-yard pass to Hinton. Protection was excellent (against a three-man rush), and Hinton made a great catch.

• Shovel pass to Freudenthal on the next play, slick little option, I like that play. Think it needs to show up more.

• Also: Freudenthal’s five catches were a career high, his 51 yards were 2 short of a career high and his touchdown was his first of the season. And the most-important play he made was probably the onside-kick recovery. He had a nice game.

• Back-shoulder touchdown pass to Surratt, and if you see single-coverage on him inside the 15-yard line, that’s the best possible place for the ball to go. Newman saw that pre-snap, made adjustment and it’s a touchdown. It’s not rocket science.

At this point Wake Forest has done what it needed to to steady itself. And then …

• The kick return touchdown. Kenneth Dicks III has Hassan Hall lined up and just whiffs. He over-pursues or over-commits or – something, he just allows Hall to make one cut and race to the uncovered part of the field. It should’ve been a tackle inside the 15-yard line.

“On the kickoff return we didn’t tackle. I mean on the first one, we had a guy right there unblocked and he misses a tackle,” Clawson said. “I don’t know if we had nine other guys thinking he was going to make the tackle, but it looks like we got bottled in there and stopped pursuing and then that thing went out and we couldn’t get it on the ground.”

• “They have been punched in the mouth tonight,” says Dave O’Brien, and Louisville still has the 50-yard punt return and fourth touchdown to go.

• Steve Claude is getting shoved in the back when a pass goes through his hands. Call that drop if you want, but it’s also pass interference.

The book on Wake Forest’s receivers is to be physical. That much is clear at the midway point of the season.

• Nothing there on second-and-10 handoff to Kenneth Walker III, who tried to make something out of nothing and made matters worse by going backward and losing 2 yards.

• Third-down sack to a defense averaging the third-fewest sacks per game in the ACC entering this game.

• On the 50-yard punt return: I don’t know why more teams don’t do this, but I love the return setup by Louisville. They put two returners back and half of Wake Forest’s coverage unit went to the wrong player.

Dayton Diemel seems like the only one of three Deacons who looked up to find the ball and adjusted his course. Luke Masterson missed a tackle at about the 40-yard line (and I believe this is where he was injured). Finally tackled by Michael Jurgens (a pretty nice tackle).

OK, so yeah, the replay confirms it: Bassey and Beal-Smith, who have been really good in punt coverage, go to the wrong returner.

• First play of the second quarter is an incompletion on a reverse, and it’s well-covered by Wake Forest.

That seems to be the theme, more than anything, of the 28-7 start: Every time Wake Forest did something positive, the next play was a disaster. Score a touchdown; give up a 100-yard kick return touchdown. Get a second-and-1 TFL for 3-yard loss; give up 7-yard scramble on third down. Get another TFL; give up a 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Get an explosive play or third-down conversion; barely get anything out of the next three plays. 

• Third-and-6, 9-yard touchdown. Ja’Sir Taylor gives up outside route and I think he should’ve given up inside route — he looked like he had help inside, none outside.

This was the first reviewed play of this game?!

• OK, so it’s 28-7. Here are some more quotes on that:

Justin Strnad: “We talked about the things we needed to do was start fast and don’t turn the ball over, obviously. And all assets, special teams, we didn’t show up in time to win an ACC football game. Took too long to lock in and the game got sloppy pretty quick and we were never able to get our feet, really.”

Clawson: “We were down 28-7 at the end of the first quarter, certainly all credit to Coach Satterfield and Louisville, those guys showed up ready to play. And we didn’t. And by the time we woke up in the second quarter, we dug ourselves into a 21-point hole and we battled back.”

Nasir Greer: “We didn’t come out focused, we didn’t come out with the right mindset. We let them kind of do whatever they wanted to do in the first quarter. We knew we had to buckle down and make some adjustments about certain things we did during the week, because it wasn’t quite working well. But we just didn’t come out focused like how we were supposed to.”

• Pillows!

• That’s a good throw and bad drop by Jaquarii Roberson on an RPO. Hasselbeck is absolutely right, that’s a missed roughing the passer.

• 17-yard carry for Beal-Smith and that’s the explosiveness we saw for the last two spring practices and in fall camp last season. He had 123 yards on 14 carries and added 38 kick return yards — his performance was one of the most-encouraging things in the game.

“Christian wasn’t happy with how much he played at BC, and we told him that, ‘If you’re not going to protect, you’re not going to play,’” Clawson said. “So this week I thought he did a much better job in protection, he took that personally and because we felt more comfortable with him protecting, we got him in there more. And he was certainly very productive with the football.”

• Excellent run by Carney for 15 yards after Claude drew the pass interference.

• Surratt was being given an outside route on his touchdown catch, still went inside for the touchdown.

• Believe that was a clip shown right before cutting to commercial of an animated/agitated Newman walking the sideline and yelling to “wake the” — um, rhymes with duck — “up.”

• Strnad shaken up on kick return, Ja’Cquez Williams replaced him for this series and made a tackle on the first play.

• Nasir Greer is a hell of a player. Comes off a block to force the fumble with a vicious hit on Cunningham, which ended up taking him out of the game.

Traveon Redd crashed too hard and that’s how Cunningham broke free around the edge, but credit to Redd for tracking the play and that’s how he’s in position to grab the fumble recovery.

Another review, another one upheld.

• I think the second-and-goal scramble is the one that Newman hurts his shoulder. But I’ll keep a closer eye for the rest of the re-watch.

• Never mind, it definitely is. On Carney’s touchdown on the next play, Newman can’t even raise his left arm above his shoulder to give the touchdown signal.

I’d love to know the extent of the injury, I’m sure you all would, but I haven’t been able to confirm anything directly. We’ll find out more with Clawson’s press conference Tuesday (hopefully).

I’d also love to know treatment he went through to come back in the game.

• Strnad got sucked up too far into play-action, and Atwell beats Henderson on the cross for a 28-yard catch.

• Kudos to Dave Goren of Wake Forest’s radio crew for reporting that Newman was being examined for the injury in this moment.

• Downing this punt at Wake Forest’s 2-yard line might have only been the fourth-best special teams play of the day for Louisville, but it’s a killer one. Deacons had just driven 74 yards without a problem and scored on short field on last two possessions.

• Enter Sam Hartman.

“It always gets hard, gets rough at some points because you’re not playing, you want to play. Everyone wants to play,” Hartman said.

• Laser from Hartman on his first throw, an RPO to Surratt.

• That’s a hell of a throw by Hartman and an even better catch by Washington. If the call on the field is a catch, it’s on Top 10 (ESPN still does that when Stephen A. isn’t yelling at you, right?).

• Nice TFL by Redd. I didn’t realize/know Masterson was hurt on the kick return.

• Atwell is a different kind of fast. He’s electric.

• The straightaway runs didn’t hurt Wake Forest at all, at least to this point. It’s the QB runs and jet sweeps that crushed them.

• A ton of confusion before third-and-11, good timeout.

• Third-and-16 (after a false start) and Conley scrambles for 16 yards. Smenda turns it back to the inside, where Henderson and Bothroyd can make the play and they don’t.

Not targeting, though.

I’m not going to count the reviews. They’re awful, you know how I feel about them, and I think 1 of about 10 actually got overturned.

• Smenda blows up a third-and-1 run up the middle. Louisville went unbalanced, moved their right tackle to left of Becton, and Smenda beats him to the hole. Outstanding play.

Smenda still had plays in this game that he didn’t look great, but he also made some plays. That’s a start — and I’d bet on those plays become more consistent as the season goes on.

• It’s not halftime yet and Hasselbeck says it might be the wildest game he’s seen “in a long time.” Guessing that became “ever” afterward.

• Bassey came within a few inches of blocking Blanton Creque’s 32-yard field goal. Almost had a punt blocked earlier, too.

• Beal-Smith goes for 13 yards on the first play of the two-minute drive and I thought it was Walker during the game. But again: that’s how explosive Beal-Smith looked for the last two spring segments.

• False start on the next play and I’ll bet Warren Ruggiero lost his mind, because it looked like they had the fake-screen, throw-deep play set up perfectly.

• Back-to-back false starts have to make offensive coordinators scream.

• 25-yard carry for Beal-Smith. Great, great cut-back against the grain, and great downfield blocking by Washington.

• Hinton, for what’s really his first full season of playing receiver, has an awesome knack for finding the soft spot in zone coverages. I know at this point Louisville is in prevent, but Hinton sits down in the area of the field that’s open and works back to Newman.

• Incomplete throw on the play before the interception: I’m really, really curious if it was supposed to be a back-shoulder throw and Newman led Washington, or if Washington cut his route a half-step too early, or if contact prevented Washington from getting both hands on ball.

All three are equally possible, I think.

• The interception is, above all, a heck of a play by Louisville’s Yasir Abdullah. Great leaping ability, hands, anticipation to come down with that.

That said, a little bit more touch and it’s a touchdown to Freudenthal. It’s not like Newman threw a laser, either. It just needed a tiny bit more loft.

(and Newman knows it, as he comes to the sideline saying that to Clawson)

• Halftime. I’m realizing the DVR says I’ve only got 215 minutes recorded. I guess this thing is going to cut off at some point. Which will obviously suck. I set it to record 30 or 45 minutes longer than program, but I guess the extra hour of the game means I need to set it for more time in the future.

• Pillows!

• And there’s the other back-breaking kick return. Trey Rucker over-pursues, and Hall has good enough vision to go where he just came from. And there’s nobody there for Wake Forest. Bassey is the safety valve and loses leverage to the outside, and it’s broken.

So you can make your jokes about Wake Forest needing a different special teams coordinator all you want, but what I see is player-error more than anything on the long returns. That’s not Wayne Lineberg’s fault.

Ja’Sir Taylor even takes a bad angle at the sideline and could’ve forced him out at the 30. Ja’Cquez Williams and Kenneth Dicks III are the reason he didn’t have two kick return touchdowns.

• The 15-yard touchdown pass is one of the worst defensive plays I’ve seen from Wake Forest — and I re-watched the Boston College, Notre Dame and Clemson games last year.

Henderson is upset with Greer in the end zone. Smenda is only in the frame because he realized how wide open two receivers were. Redd stands flat-footed at the 10, I’m assuming he had responsibility on Atwell on the fake screen.

Just an abhorrent play, even worse considering it’s the first snap after halftime.

• In the first half, Beal-Smith and Walker were deep for every kickoff. First kickoff of the second half, it’s Hinton and Walker. Interesting.

• Good 10-yard run by Carney on the first play for Wake Forest’s offense of the second half. And then …

• Missed a hold and/or pass interference on first down (and Surratt still should’ve had catch down the sideline). Edge run gets stuffed. Herron and Sean Maginn miscommunication leads to a sack.

• Two plays, two first downs on Louisville’s next possession. At this point, the Cardinals are up 38-21 and have all the momentum, rolling along — this was an early danger zone for Wake Forest.

• Satterfield has an interesting QB situation brewing, because Conley — this stupid interception notwithstanding — looks ready to take the reins already. But Cunningham looked good in his time, too.

• Nice play by Smenda on the near-pick in the middle of the field.

• And then good Lord, Conley could’ve run for at least 20 yards on the interception. But a good play and diving interception by Greer — another rallying point for the Deacons off of one of his plays.

• Beal-Smith was the best running back in this game, at least for Wake Forest.

• Newman is out there with — at worst, a separated shoulder and at best, a bruised shoulder — and he’s lead-blocking for Beal-Smith, with Wake Forest down 38-21 and looking listless for most of the night.

That’s special stuff.

• Deacons lose Gilliam and two plays later, Herron goes down. I think Gilliam didn’t return, but I know Herron returned. So Gilliam’s status will be worth monitoring.

• Fantastic throw and catch for the 47-yard touchdown to Surratt. Newman led him perfectly. Surratt is so physical.

• Pooch kick, and still had a player go offside.

“We didn’t even trust ourselves to cover it. So you’re just handing them the ball at the 32-yard line, 35-yard line,” Clawson said. “And even that we didn’t even do that right. We had a kid that … got in his motion behind the 30 and they’re getting 5 more yards.”

• Basham blows up a first-down handoff for a 3-yard loss. The stats say he had a good game, with seven tackles, three TFLs. I … I don’t know. He’s going up against Becton, who’s a future NFL tackle. But Basham is a future NFL player, too. This was a really big test for him, and I don’t have the sense that he got as many QB pressures as he should have/as Wake Forest needed him to.

I’m probably being too harsh, but for a player who’s looked like a first- or second-round draft pick, I think you’re allowed to be harsh and expect a lot.

• Even when Taylor has good coverage on Atwell, he makes a contested 10-yard catch on third-and-10. He’s a problem.

• The most worthless review thus far. The referee’s name was Jeff Flanagan. If he’s doing the Florida State game, maybe I’ll stage a coup and we’ll disable the review capabilities in the press box.

(only kind of kidding)

• We’re back to feeling like opponents’ red-zone trips have a foregone conclusion to end in touchdowns. That needs to change quickly if the Deacons’ defense is going to rediscover its form of the three-game stretch against Rice, UNC and Elon.

• Really good heads-up play by Zion Keith to recover the surprise onside kick after Louisville goes up 45-28.

• Wake Forest’s offensive line can sustain an injury or two and not lose a beat, with Loic Ngassam Nya as the sixth option.

• 18 straight made field goals for Nick Sciba, who’s also skilled at onside kicks. He’s a nice weapon to have.

• Fitzpatrick beats Henderson on a deep ball and that’s the one that Clawson was talking about that the Deacons were bailed out by a holding call.

• Basham drew the (blatant) hold — it’s not, but just as good as a sack.

• Harder-than-it-looked fair catch in a crowd by Hinton.

• Carney gets to the edge on a 27-yard run with a nasty stiff-arm.

• Newman keeps taking hits, that one on a blown-up mesh point in the backfield.

• Next play is the interception on the tipped third-down pass. Hinton was looking for a pass interference call, Newman too. I mean … they’re not wrong. Dorian Etheridge is draped on Hinton’s back when the ball is halfway there. Would imagine Clawson and Co. sent more than 10 plays to the ACC office (early) Sunday.

• Pillows!

• Satterfield and his staff have orchestrated a turnaround in a way I didn’t think was possible so quickly in their tenure. It’s pretty remarkable.

• Bassey misses Atwell in space on a third-and-3 conversion. I’ve covered how good Atwell is, and he didn’t get burned in the passing game as much — but Wake Forest needs a better game from Bassey against Florida State.

• Good pass-rush move by Bothroyd to make Conley uncomfortable and throw an incompletion.

• Smenda didn’t make the tackle, but good play on third-down stop.

Maybe I’m too much of an apologist for him, but he didn’t look as bad in re-watch as I thought he was or as bad as message boards and Twitter have made him out to be. He’s the second-best linebacker on the team. He’s going to be in there. He’s a sophomore. He’s going to play, he’s going to grow, he’s going to improve. Join me on that hill if you want.

• A game to forget for Herron, who picks up his second holding penalty.

• Chandler Jones interferes with Hinton on another third-and-long pass. And it’s uncalled again. And I’d bet that was sent to the league office.

• Ja’Corey Johns shows up in a big way for a second-down TFL. And again, one step forward …

• Two steps backward with Henderson beat deep for the 50-yard touchdown that makes it 52-31.

• There were 45 points scored in the final 10 minutes of this game. [insert blinking-man GIF]

• OK, here’s Newman’s final drive. First: a really smooth return by Hinton for about 38 yards. I’d expect to see him back there from now on.

• First play, Newman can’t step into his throw, but not much of a hit.

• Hinton does a fantastic job working back to the ball.

• Newman scrambles on first down from the 31 and gets brought down from behind, left shoulder might’ve taken a little bit of a blow.

• Second-down keeper and Newman takes a hard hit directly on the left shoulder. Lost the ball but ruled down.

• Third-down and he throws a strike to Jaquarii Roberson for a conversion, but took a hit after releasing. Can’t see because camera moved off of him how significant the hit was.

Oh never mind, he gets up tilting to the left, clearly it’s bothering him.

• So they review that play, there’s a solid two minutes to examine things — and Newman keeps and picks up 8 yards on a read-option, but lowers his right shoulder at the end of the run to shield his left one.

• That’s an excellent 3-yard touchdown run by Walker, hits the hole with authority. Wake Forest has three really good running backs.

• Pillows!

• First play and Hawkins breaks loose into the secondary, yards tacked on with Henderson’s facemask penalty.

• Shamar McCollum’s snaps have decreased since the first few games, but he made a couple of plays in the second half.

• Five of Wake Forest’s seven penalties committed by seniors. (three by Herron)

• I have one minute left on my DVR recording.

• Basham, Redd and Bergan blew up the (predictable) third-down run, and Louisville takes the field goal.

• And there goes the recording, before Louisville even gets its field-goal unit on the field.

I’ll make sure this never happens again. The ironic part is that my girlfriend was an hour late in turning on the cable box — but it still (obviously) recorded everything from the start of the game, but it’s a shame that extra hour didn’t extend the time that it recorded the game.

I’m sure I could go on ESPN+ or something and find a replay, but I think this thing is long enough and I know what I saw in the final 5:40. There were a lot of points and the most-significant part was probably Conley's 41-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1. 

So, here's the mini-MTOW:

I saw Sam Hartman remind us that he can really sling the ball around, and that he was improving by the time of his season-ending injury last season. The narrative of his freshman season seemed to change in some fans’ minds over the course of the spring and summer, and I think it’s worth remembering that Hartman was improving at a rapid pace before his injury.

Which brings me to this: I think Hartman is going to start against Florida State. I think he showed how dangerous he is as a passer, and didn’t even get to display how much his improved weight (up to 200 pounds) and strength can help him in the RPO/zone-read offense.

I think you only need to remember what Clawson and the staff did with John Wolford two years ago in the game at Clemson — they sat Wolford, who wasn’t 100%, to get him that week of rest, plus the off week. He came back and had one of the best second halves of a season in program history. Newman has had one of those in the first half of the season — I think the decision here is to do the same thing, rest Newman (have him ready, in case Hartman is hurt) against the Seminoles and get him to 100% for the five-game November.

We’ll (hopefully) know the solution Tuesday around 12:07 p.m. from Clawson, so I don’t know how many of you will have read this by the time Clawson steps to the podium — but that’s my feeling right now.

Also: I’ve reached out to the ACC to ask if there’s any insight into the ruling of the final onside kick recovery. Dennis Hennigan, the supervisor of officials, doesn’t publicly comment if the league feels things were correctly called, and because there wasn’t a statement Sunday, I wouldn’t expect much — but I’m interested at least to see if anything is said.

Keep up with all the latest on Wake Forest athletics, from analysis to features and lots more Deacons news you won’t find anywhere else.

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