The third-ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame host the unranked Demon Deacons of Wake Forrest Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium. Wake Forest will be making its first ever visit to Notre Dame Stadium and will be the 70th different team to do so. The game is the second meeting between the two schools who are scheduled to meet again in 2015. The kickoff is scheduled for 3:38 EST on NBC and will be the last time this season Irish fans get to hear Tom Hammond and Mike Mayock cover the Irish this season. The weather forecast calls for a high of fifty-three degrees dropping into the mid-forties by game’s end, sunny skies with sunset at 5:23, a 10 percent chance of rain, and wind from the southeast up to seven miles per hour.
Last year, the Irish won in Winston-Salem 24-17 in a game that easily could have gone the other way. From the initial meeting Wake Forest returns four starters on offense, all at the skilled positions, and essentially five starters on defense.
Wake Forest is headed by Jim Grobe in his 12th year at the head of the program. The University of Virginia grad (75) has led the Demon Deacons to more eight-plus wins, bowl games, and bowl game wins than any previous head coach in the program’s 124 year history. Grobe is held in high esteem by many in the football community and most parents would want their sons to play for him because of the class act he’s been and continues to be among college coaches. That doesn’t mean that Grobe is a softie as he fired two coaches last January who had been with him when Wake won the ACC in 2006. One of the coaches had been with Grobe for 17 years, the other six years. This was the first time in his 11 years at Wake Forest he’s had coaching changes that weren’t from coaches choosing other positions. Another coach, who has been a player and coach under Grobe, returned to his alma mater, Air Force.
Grobe began as an assistant at Emory & Henry, moved on to Marshall, and then at Air Force under Fisher DeBerry before becoming the head coach at Ohio University. At OU he went 33-33-1 from a 1995- 2000 rescuing a moribund program. Since 2001 Grobe is 73-72 at Wake Forest for a career record of 106-105-1. Against the Irish he’s 0-1.
The Demon Deacons come into South Bend with 5-5 overall record and 3-5 in the ACC Atlantic Division. Have wins over Liberty 20-17, North Carolina 28-27, Army 49-37, Virginia 16-10, and Boston College 28-14. Their losses were to Florida State 0-52, Duke 27-34, Maryland 14-19, Clemson 13-42, and North Carolina State 6-37. Wake Forest’s opponents are a combined 53-47 which includes Florida State and Clemson who are both 9-1. The Maryland loss was in part to the suspension of six players, 3 starters, one player who plays a great deal and two reserves, and they were missing their top receiver due to injury.
Wake Forest Offense
The Demon Deacons come into this game seemingly abandoning last year’s concerted effort to achieving a balanced offense. Last season Wake ran 464 times and passed 457 times and succeeded in their efforts to be balanced. In Wake’s last three games their rushing attempts per game have fallen to season lows while the passing attempts have reached season highs. Wake runs the inside zone and outside zone and passes from the traditional I-formation and the spread. They also run a series of screen with receivers and all their backs, especially this season, to try to slow the pass rush.
As a team, they average 3.1 yards per rush which pales compared to Notre Dame’s 4.8 team average. The Demon Deacon’s passing game averages 10.5 yards per catch compared to Notre Dame’s 12.2 yards per catch.
Wake Forest is 111th in total offense with 310 yards per game, 111th in rushing with 103 yards per game, and 87th in passing with 207 yards per game. The Demon Deacons are 106th in scoring with 20 points per game.
Wake is 18th in turnovers with 12 turnovers, six interceptions and six fumbles lost. They are 84th in sacks allowed giving up 23 sacks. They are 114th in third down efficiency converting 52 of 164 third downs, a 32 percent success rate.
In the Red Zone, Wake is ranked, in my opinion, a misleading 12th converting 21 of 23 trips inside their opponent’s 20. The breakdown of those scores is 10 rushing touchdowns, seven passing touchdowns, and four field goals. By comparison the Irish, ranked 79th, have been inside their opponent’s Red Zone 49 times and scored 38 times with 16 rushing touchdowns, eight passing touchdowns, and 14 field goals. Wake would surely swap Red Zone stats with the Irish if they could and take the extra 72 points in exchange for a lower ranking.
Trick Plays & Wrinkles
The halfback pass will need to be high in the Irish defense’s awareness as backup tailback Deandre Martin #21 is 3-4 passing this year with a long of 38 yards. Martin can be expected to throw from a sweep look or the Wildcat.
Flanker reverse pass and double pass is also a Wake staple with Michael Campanaro #3. In his career as a passer Campanaro is 4-5-1 for a long of 40 yards and three touchdowns. Campanaro hadn’t thrown a pass this year until last week when he tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terence Davis #81 after a backward pass received in the slot from quarterback Tanner Price #10.
Wake runs the jet sweep, end-around, and reverses to the tune of 22 attempts by four different receivers and a touchdown.
The Demon Deacons may run the Wildcat formation with both tailbacks.
Quarterback Tanner Price #10 has 2 receptions this season, so he may be passed to on a throwback from a halfback pass, flanker reverse, or straight from the Wildcat.
Look for a dump off to the fullback if Wake gets close to scoring. Wake has five touchdowns passing to the fullback from somewhere in the backfield or lined up as a tight end.
Wake Forest Projected Offensive Starters
QB #10 Jake Price, junior, 6-2, 205, 34 games, 32 starts
TB #25 Josh Harris, RS junior, 5-11, 210, 30 games, 19 starts
FB #42 Tommy Bohanon, senior, 6-2, 245, 47 games, 22 starts
WR #3 Michael Campanaro, RS junior, 5-11, 195, 32 games, 20 starts
WR #81 Terence Davis, fifth year, 6-2, 205, 32 games, 9 starts
TE #89 Spencer Bishop, RS junior, 6-2, 240, 29 games, 3 starts
LT #63 Dylan Intermann, RS freshman, 6-5, 300, 9 games, 2 starts
LG #60 Whit Barnes, RS junior, 6-4, 290, 10 games, 9 starts
C #74 Garrick Williams, fifth year, 6-4, 310, 29 games, 24 starts
RG #75 Frank Souza, RS junior, 6-4, 310, 8 games, 8 starts
RT #68 Colin Summers, RS sophomore, 6-5, 315, 21 games, 8 starts
Offensive Skill Players
Quarterback Tanner price #10 is having a bad year when one takes into consideration his improvement, mostly due to the offensive line’s problems. Notre Dame can win without Everett Golson playing well. Price and Wake Forest do not have that luxury. He must play well for the Demon Deacons to be competitive and it’s hard to play his position in the meteor storm that surrounds the Wake Forest pocket. Price has done a fantastic job avoiding sacks, but his accuracy has suffered.
In his third year as a starter the southpaw has a strong enough arm though the ball may wobble and he makes all the throws. He gets the ball off quickly in Wake’s short to medium passing game, executes the boot well, and makes decent throws on the run. He is better this season throwing the ball away or dumping it off instead of holding on to it waiting for a receiver to get open or trying to thread the needle as he has in years past. Last year before the game against the Irish the Wake staff felt he was at his peak in his command of the offense, but they have recently reduced the complexity and terminology to make things easier for Price. It’s tough to do heavy thinking when you’re under constant pressure.
Statistically Price is 189-341-6 for 55 percent and 12 touchdowns. He has a long of 73 yards. As a runner he has a -.1 yard average due to sacks, but a long run of 25 yards, and has scored two rushing touchdowns. He also has two receptions for an average of 6.5 yards and a long of seven yards.
Tailback Josh Harris #25 has close to 4.4 speed when he gets going, is capable of game breaking plays, and sees the field well. With last year’s offensive line he’d have 1,000 yards by now instead of the 607 yards he has so far this season. He’s inconsistent blocking on the blitz, from picking it up well to whiffing with his head down. Harris is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, has a long of 63 yards, and five touchdowns. As a receiver he has 18 receptions averaging 4.6 yards per catch, and has a long of 21 yards.
Backup tailback Deandre Martin #21 is a triple threat as a rusher, a receiver, and a passer in the Wake offense. A slashing runner with 4.4 speed Martin has been oft injured and would have significant career stats had that not been the case. As a runner Martin is averaging 4.2 yards per carry, has a long of 37 yards, and five touchdowns. As a receiver he has eight receptions for an average of 8.4 yards, and a long of 36 yards. As a passer he is 3-4 with a long of 35 yards. Martin also picks up the blitz well.
Fullback/tight end Tommy Bohanan #42 is a versatile back that aligns as a back anywhere in the formation and also at tight end. He doesn’t have a carry all year, but can get the tough yards in short yardage and has done so in his career. He is third on the team with 20 receptions for a 9.6 yard average, a long of 34 yards, and five touchdowns. His career rushing statistics average 3.0 yards with a long of 22 yards. Bohanan is a good pass blocker who can pick up a defensive end on a speed rush. One negative is he can sometimes be into his block and then look to see what the runner is doing instead of focusing on his block which is sort of weird at this level.
This is a beat up unit that wasn’t picked high by ACC observers to begin with. A series of major or nagging injuries to the top four wide receivers has limited the Wake offense in practice and games. Wake has lost ten games to injury with their top three receivers coming out of fall camp. One is gone for the year and his replacement has been hampered in practices with finger, hip, and abdominal problems. Aside from Michael Campanaro #3 there are concentration issues in the receiver corps.
Wide receiver Michael Campanaro # 3 is a multi-talented receiver who is Tanner Price’s favorite target evidenced by his Wake Forest game record of 16 receptions against Boston College. He came to Wake as a running back and it shows when he has the ball in his hands. He’s nimble and balanced runner and receiver with 4.4 forty speed. Campanaro is a football player. He is a tough individual, has good open field ability, and possesses good ball skills. He usually is in the slot or will motion across the formation, runs a lot of bubble screens, crossing routes, and can go deep on the seam or skinny post. In short the best and most versatile slot receiver Notre Dame has faced this season. Statistically, he has 65 receptions for a 9.5 yard average, a long of 41 yards, and six touchdowns. As a jet sweep, reverse, and end-around runner he averages 4.9 yards per rush, has a long of 14 yards, and a touchdown. All those statistics are all the more noteworthy as he has missed two games with a broken hand. As a passer he is 1-1 for a 39-yard touchdown this year, but for his career he is 4-5-1 for three touchdowns. Last year Campanaro had 6 receptions for 74 yards against the Irish.
Wide receiver Terence Davis #81 has the highly desired combination of size and speed that all coaches would like. He’s athletic and a tough player having separated both shoulders this season and only missing one game. His best routes may be his out-n-up and crossing routes. He has 37 receptions for a 13.4 yard average, a long of 73 yards, and two touchdowns.
Wide receiver Brandon Terry #86 has legitimate 6-5 height. Terry is a potential Red Zone threat on the high fade or back shoulder fade, has good hands, and gets the ball at its highest point. He’s not real strong and has trouble with press coverage and in just getting separation. He has 14 receptions, a 20.5 yard average, a long of 47 yards, but no touchdowns.
Sherman Ragland #26 is a converted running back with 4.5 speed who definitely has concentration problems receiving. He has19 receptions, and 11.6 yard average, a long of 41 yards, and no touchdowns. He’s also a threat to pass the ball.
Tight end Spencer Bishop #89 is the only roster listed tight end to have a reception for Wake this season. He has three receptions, an average of 8.7 yards per catch, and a long of 13 yards with no touchdowns.
The Wake Forest offensive line will not have one starter back from last year and will start only two offensive linemen who saw action against the Irish last year. This line is having a difficult time running the ball due to injuries, suspensions, and defections in a unit that was pre-season ranked as the poorest in the ACC. The problems began in the spring with a defection by a first team guard and continued into fall camp. The left side is where most of the damage has been done. The left tackle and left guard positions have lost two starters to injury for the year and one to suspension. All this has resulted in five different combinations in Wake’s 10 games this year.
Center Garrick Williams #74 returns as the only offensive lineman to start against Notre Dame last year as he filled in for the senior starter at center last year. He is Wake’s most experienced offensive lineman and their best one. Williams is capable as a run blocker and a pass blocker.
Right tackle Colin Summers #68 appeared against the Irish in last year’s game and is the second most experienced offensive lineman that Wake has on the field. His youth makes him good some times and bad other times. One play he’ll look like a liability in space and one play he’ll look all ACC in space. That pretty much goes with the rest of his game. He has his biggest problems with speed rushers.
Left tackle Dylan Intermann #63 is strong, but a redshirt freshman that probably wouldn’t be playing but for the offensive line problems mentioned above. He’s slow and not good blocking in space. His pass blocking is fighting to hold off the opponent rather than controlling the rusher like the better tackles do. He’s weak on inside rush moves.
Right guard Frank Sousa #75 began spring camp as a three-year veteran of college ball on the defensive line with 18 games and three starts under his belt. He was switched to guard in the spring after the defection. Obviously a former defensive lineman would tend to have less than stellar footwork and his footwork gets Sousa in trouble. It’s not yet second nature and it prevents him from sustaining blocks after the initial hit.
Left guard Whit Barnes #60 came to Wake as a center. He looks good pulling, but isn’t real effective when he gets to the hole. Defenders seem to get off his run blocks much too soon and he gets pushed back into Price on pass blocks much too often.
Wake Forest Defense
The Demon Deacons operate a base 3-4 defense that will slant and stunt their fronts much of the time, blitz often solo and in many combinations, and will send any defensive back on a solo blitz or as part of an overload blitz at any time.
Wake Forest is ranked 78th in total defense allowing 418 yards per game, 63rd against the rush allowing 157 yards per game, and 98th in passing defense giving up 261 yards per game. They are ranked 70th in scoring defense giving up 29 points a game.
The Demon Deacons rank 41st in turnovers gained with 19 through nine interceptions and 10 fumbles. They are 26th in tackles for losses with 68 and 40th in sacks with 23. Third down prevention finds the Demon Deacons at 94th allowing 77 third down conversions on 171 attempts for 45 percent.
In the Red Zone, Wake is ranked 77th with opponents scoring 37 out of 44 trips inside Wake’s 20-yard line. The breakdown is 15 rushing touchdowns, 13 passing touchdowns, and nine field goals.
Projected Defensive Starters
DE #96 Hasan Hazime, fifth year, 6-5, 270, 10 games, 6 starts OR
DE #90 Kris Redding, RS junior, 6-4, 265, 28 games, 7 starts
NT #50 Nikita Whitlock, RS junior, 5-11, 260, 33 games, 31 starts
DE #98 Zach Thompson, RS junior, 6-5, 255, 31 games, 26 starts
OLB #40 Joey Ehrmann, fifth year, 6-4, 220, 47 games, 36 starts
ROB #39 Justin Jackson, RS junior, 6-1, 220, 23 games, 13 starts
MLB #41Mike Olson, RS junior, 6-3, 230, 33 games, 1 starts
WLB #45 Riley Haynes, fifth year, 6-1, 220, 41 games, 23 starts
CB #6 Chibuikem Okoro, fifth year, 6-1, 190, 47 games, 35 starts
CB #9 Kevin Johnson, RS sophomore, 6-1, 175, 21 games, 15 starts
SS #5 Daniel Mack, RS junior, 6-0, 200, 31 games, 14 starts
FS #17 A. J. Marshall, junior, 6-0, 190, 24 games, 15 starts
The Demon Deacon’s defensive line is ranked near the bottom third of the ACC defensive lines and justly so based on production this season. The three starters have a total of 8.5 sacks, In contrast Notre Dame’s Stephan Tuitt has 10 sacks alone and his fellow starters in the 3-4 alignment of Louis Nix and Kapron Lewis-Moore bring their unit total to 16.5 sacks. Size has more to do with their statistics than effort as the three-man front averages 262 pounds. Conversely, Notre Dame’s front three averages almost 312 pounds.
My favorite player to watch for Wake on the defensive line is Nikita Whitlock #50. Whitlock is just all out on every play and his hustle sticks out on film. He uses his speed and hands exceptionally well to penetrate, often beating the initial contact seemingly at the snap and causing havoc in the backfield. Hampered by a hamstring and a torn ligament in his ankle he doesn’t have the stats he had last year. The former linebacker came into last year’s game leading the ACC in tackles for loss and finished fourth two tackles behind the leader. Whitlock has 41 tackles, 20 solos, 4.5 for losses, three sacks, and a pair of quarterback hurries.
The defensive ends, starters Hasan Hazime #96 and Zack Thompson #98, as well as backup Kris Redding #90 all play hard. They play upright at times, possibly to confuse the opponent’s offensive line, but are more effective in a three-point stance. Each brings something different to the Wake defense. Frankly, they give more effort in pursuit than some of their more well-known team mates.
Hazime is the largest, most physical of the three, and occupies blockers well, but the other two are better pass rushers. Statistically Hazime has 23 tackles, 12 solos, six for losses, 1.5 sacks, two passes broken up, a QB hurry, a fumble recovery, and two forced fumbles.
Thompson sets the edge well and is the best pass rushing defensive end from the inside. He has 48 tackles, 24 solos, 5.5 for losses, four sacks, an interception, 1 QB hurry, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble.
Redding is the best pass rusher from the edge and gets his hands up quick if he can’t get there. He had 30 tackles, 14 solos, 5.5 for loses, 3.5 sacks, four passes broken up, a fumble recovery, and two forced fumbles.
The outside linebackers are arguably the strength of this unit and of the defense. The inside linebackers are the weak link of the defense.
Linebacker/defensive end hybrid Joey Ehrrmann #40 is the son of NFL player Joe Ehrmann. On the positive he has an intense motor, makes great effort, uses his hands well, plays to the whistle, and is good in pass defense. He can be hard to block, doesn’t stay blocked, has good instincts when the ball is in the air, and rushes the passer well, especially to the inside. On the negative he is not the fastest outside linebacker, nor the most coordinated, doesn’t pursue as well as he should, and for his experience he gives up his outside shoulder too often. He has 46 tackles, 33 solos, 7.5 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble.
Outside linebacker Justin Jackson #39 is the best Wake coverage linebacker fundamentally and in production. He drops quickly into his zone and is good in man coverage. He plays the run with discipline and seldom makes mistakes. Jackson is the leading tackler for Wake with 75 tackles, 38 solos, 8.5 for losses, four sacks, two passes broken up, two hurries, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick.
Middle linebacker Mike Olson #41 is Wake’s second-leading tackler and a MLB should be near the team’s top in tackles. He could have more if he did a better job flowing to the ball under control as he often over pursues. He also doesn’t get off of or avoid blocks consistently. He doesn’t have the speed to get the deep drop necessary in Cover Two. Olson has 68 tackles, 31 solos, 3.5 for losses, a sack, an interception, two passes broken up, and two quarterback hurries.
Weakside linebacker Riley Haynes #45 may be banged up as he doesn’t seem to fill with the authority he had last year. He is the best inside linebacker though and fills better than his partner Olson. Haynes has 58 tackles, 32 solos, 3.5 for losses, a sack, and an interception.
The corners are the strength of the Wake secondary, each bringing a specific talent to the defense and are a close second to the outside linebackers in terms of the defense’s strength. Wake secondary does a lot of cutting in their tackling, something I’d like to see removed from the game.
The most experienced player in the Demon Deacon secondary is Chibuikem (Kenny) Okoro #6. Okoro has good size, good wheels, great hands in catching the ball, positions his body well, and is an intelligent player. He does a great job getting inside body position on a receiver, pursues well, and fills quickly against the run. A solid tackler, Okoro may not be drafted due to his lack of premium foot speed, but there’s a good chance he’ll get a look in the NFL. He has 38 tackles, 24 solos, three for losses, an interception, and four passes broken up.
The other corner is Kevin Johnson #9 an athletic player who uses anticipation and toughness to make plays. He fights off blockers better than the average corner to make the play. He often cuts the ball carrier and he is nasty doing it. Johnson has 53 tackles, 32 solos, 3.5 for losses, .5 sack, three interceptions, 11 passes broken up, a quarterback hurry, a fumble recovered, and two forced fumbles.
Strong Safety Daniel Mack #5 is a former All Dade County linebacker in high school. He tackles in space and doesn’t quit on pursuit even though he could do better with his initial angles. Sometimes comes up too fast on runs as if he’s still a linebacker, but he’s coming from too far back now and the angles often keep him out of the play. Mack has 50 tackles, 23 solos, .5 for loss, a pass broken up, a quarterback hurry, and a fumble recovery.
Free safety A. J. Marshall #17 had a lot of offers from top schools including Oregon. He has good speed. Any time he’s near the LOS he is a blitz threat and he comes fast. Not a physical player against the run. He cuts more than he tackles. He has 61 tackles, 31 solos, three for losses, two interceptions, four passes broken up, a hurry, and a forced fumble.
Wake Forest Special Teams
Chad Hedlund #27 does the place kicking for Wake. He is 3 for 3 with a long of 44 yards. Hedlund is 7 for 8 in extra points. Hedlund replaced Wake’s all-time leading field goal kicker in both consecutive kicks and kicking percentage who was 2-6 on the season and missed two in the Maryland game that Wake lost by five points. Hedlund was 3 for 3 against Virginia a six-point Wake win. Wake hasn’t tried a field goal in their last three games.
Alexander Kinal #38 is Wake’s punter. A busy individual, he has 80 punts that average 40.7 yards. He has a long of 61 yards, 12 over 50 yards, 5 touchbacks, 24 inside the twenty, and 23 have been fair caught. His coverage team ranks 64th allowing 7.9 yards per return, including an 89-yard touchdown.
Jimmy Newman #82 does the kickoffs for Wake Forest. He has 41 kickoffs that average 62.4 yards per kick. He has 24 touchbacks and one out of bounds. His coverage team is ranked 108th allowing 24.9 yards per return, including a 100-yard touchdown last week at North Carolina State.
The Wake punt returners are Lovell Jackson #4 and Michael Campanaro #3. Jackson has nine returns for an average of 13.7 yards and a long of 60 yards. Campanaro has five returns for an average of 5.2 yards and a long of 12 yards.
Kickoff returns have been done by five players this season, but the Wake staff seems to have settled on Lovell Jackson #4 and Deandre Martin #21. Jackson has 7 returns for a 19.6 yard average and a long of 22 yards. Martin has three returns for an average of 18.7 yards and a long of 27 yards
Wake Forest needs a victory to become bowl eligible.
Wake Forest has never beaten the number three ranked team. They are 0-7 in that regard.
Wake quarterback Tanner Price doesn’t throw a lot of interceptions. Last week’s three interceptions were an anomaly. Two came off the hand of receivers.
Wake Forest really felt they should have won last year’s game and said so after the game. Translation, they have something to prove.
Coach Kelly is 2-0 on Senior Day at Notre Dame.
ACC officials seem to be a bit more liberal on holding and where the hands can grab more than other conference officials the Irish have competed under this season.
Wake Forest will be playing before the largest crowd they will see this season.
It’s Senior Day at Notre Dame. Seniors Manti Te’o and Robby Toma will be sharing their second Senior Day, once as high school team mates and once as college team mates.
No turnovers. Notre Dame is 9-0 under Coach Kelly when they don’t commit a turnover.
Handling nose guard Nikita Whitlock #50. There’s no doubt that Braxton Cave can push Whitlock off the ball every play as he’s a bigger and stronger player. However, he isn’t nearly as quick and Whitlock thrives on his quickness so Cave will need his guards to help out.
Tyler Eifert and Troy Niklas blocking against Wake Forest OLBs Joey Erhmann #40 and Justin Jackson #39. This matchup will be interesting.
Run the ball. Dominate the game with the 62-pound per man advantage the Irish offensive line has over the three defensive linemen and two outside linebackers of the Wake defense.
Blitz pickup awareness by the offensive line, the backs, and Everett Golson. Wake will run every blitz in the book, inside, outside, combo, zone, overload, and they will also send any defensive back in on a blitz solo or in tandem with a linebacker.
Unless they change their defense Tyler Eifert should have a field day as the middle of Wake’s cover two is softer than a baby’s behind. Wake will probably tighten it up. They’ve seen Eifert on film, but one can hope. Could the Irish sneak Niklas in there decoying Eifert away from the middle?
Irish defensive backs ability to key on Michael Campanaro #3 and whoever lines up as receivers around him. Campanaro will catch the bubble screen and because he does that his passing the ball can fool those trying to close on what they perceive to be a bubble screen while Campanaro is throwing the ball over their head. It’s a tough read and that’s just one of his passing plays.
Hands up by the Irish pass rushers if they aren’t getting to Price. Price is only 6-2 and gets the ball out quick and Wake runs a lot of short and medium routes, so the rushers need to get their hands up for a few pass breakups during the course of the game.
The Irish front should play their game. Last week it was obvious that the Irish players were super hyped up for sacks possibly looking at BC as a means to pad individual statistics. BC made the Irish pay for their over enthusiasm early.
The Irish front needs to set the edge and stay at home on the backside contain as Price runs the boot and throws off it very well.
Wake will lull you to sleep with what could be called dink-n-dunk and then go up top or run one of their trick plays. Irish defensive backs need to be aware of that potential and not give up a cheapie.
Irish linebackers will have their coverage skills tested by all the underneath and crossing routes Wake runs. Tackling will be at a premium.
Bob Diaco may not dial up any overloaded blitzes, but if he does they should be very effective.
Special Teams Keys
No turnovers. See offensive keys.
Don’t leave points on the field in the kicking game.
The kick return teams needs to be aware of a popup kickoff to drop around the Irish forty yard line if Wake decides to keep the ball from George Atkinson.
The Irish need to hustle on kickoff coverage and pin Wake inside the 20. That’s happened to Wake quite a bit this season and long drives aren’t their strong point offensively.
Ben Turk’s punts pinning the Demon Deacons deep for the same reason as above.
Things I thought about in making my pick:
Wake Forest doesn’t have the offensive line it had last year. Wake Forest doesn’t have the talent at wide receiver it had last year. Wake Forest doesn’t have the defense it had last year, but Wake is getting more turnovers than they did last year. Wake forest beat Boston College 28-14.
The Irish offense didn’t put a patch on the hole in my glass last week. They only scored 21 points on one of the worst defenses in college football. Sure it was a rivalry game, at least on BC’s part, and sure the two fumbles could have stopped two Irish touchdowns from happening, and sure the margin of victory could have been bigger, but the fact is the Irish still only scored 21 points against a lousy defense, inspired or not.
Against Miami and BC the Irish had the same number of possessions, nine. Those nine possessions led to 41 points against Miami and twenty-one points against BC, who lost to Miami. So I’m still waiting for that foot on the neck game from the Irish offense where they play to their potential not the opponent’s.
Notre Dame 24 Wake Forest 6