This should really be two grades -- one for the players who stepped up (A) and one for the players who are best to forget this game (F). I’ll go unit by unit and start with the highlights.
The offensive line had another solid game. They were forced into pass protecting most of the day, but still played well. The pocket collapsed a few times, but no one got beat repeatedly. I am curious why they rotate Hall and Cherilus, without subbing the rest of the line. Both Hall and Cherilus played well (hopefully one of the writers will ask this in the near future). It looked like Wake’s speed upfront created a little confusion, but really nothing to complain about. Also, great blocking on the limited run plays and on the goal line and short yardages.
L.V. played really well. Although he only gained 60 yards, he proved a nice change of pace in the second half and read his blocks well. His one big loss was late in the game -- the line was pulling and Miller let his man crash by Ross and on to L.V. Callender never got into the flow and wasn’t given much of a chance. We were so far behind there was no time to run.
The receivers were a mixed bag. Gonzalez played great and ran a great route on his TD. He also looked good in his drag routes across the middle. Blackmon didn’t break anything, but was the focus of Wake’s D. He was in tight coverage throughout. Challenger…wow. Great catch at the end. Sele did not get the accolades, but he had a quietly good day. And the pass interference call he drew late in the game was huge. Miller had a mediocre day. The touchdown was somewhat lucky and he dropped a few. It was also not his best day blocking. I love Larry Lester, but he was horrendous yesterday. He is a scrappy kid and a Jersey guy, but not a great wideout. This is a guy who made a great catch in OT against Clemson, but he is just too careless with the ball. In the pregame they showed the highlights of last year’s Wake game -- I forgot his batting balls caused an INT in that game too. He lost the ball last week reaching. He lost one reaching against Pitt in OT last year. The coaches need to correct that or pull him for making mistakes. I am glad he got the touchdown, but his drops were killers and he deserves a demotion.
Bible called a good game. We were behind so he had to come out throwing. He was calling plays that should be comfortable for Porter and went back into the run as soon as we took the lead.
Quinton Porter had one of the worst games imaginable. His stat line was 20 for 41 for 184, 2TDs and 3INTs. He also lost a fumble and got very lucky on one of his TDs. I wanted Porter to do well. He is supposedly a great kid. His post game comments were really classy, but he is not our better quarterback and as a fifth year senior, we can safely say we have seen his best and he is still reverting to bad habits. Now his receivers dropped plenty of balls (eight by my count). That hurts. But by my count he also had five receptions where his receivers made great catches or he got very lucky on a Wake tip (Miller’s TD). In addition to his INTs, he had 10 out and out horrible misses. And anyone watching football for the first time can see his passes are wobbly and slow. But the disconcerting part, is that Bible called plays for his comfort zone and he was still screwing up. We throw the right to left drag constantly and he was never crisp on it. We had Will sit in zones and wait and Quinton was late on throws. He was clearly pressing, because his bad habits were out in full force. He tucked and ran. His footwork got real jittery. He was hopping in the pocket. And worst of all he was telegraphing his passes into coverage. On his second INT, he never looked anywhere. He was going to Will regardless -- and of course Will was in triple coverage. His first and third INTs came off of broken plays -- just like his first against FSU. When things break down he tries to make something happen -- like Peterson. Yet when Peterson did it, either he was more composed or saw the field differently or was just plain old lucky. I don’t know. But when plays break down on Porter, bad things happen. I think it is composure or an intangible. Who knows? I could bury him with other bonehead plays, but he knows he was off. TOB knows he was off. It is time to start Ryan. He came in and his passes were much better. We were throwing routes that Porter doesn’t even try. He was composed instead of flustered. He saved our ass. The two plays that really stood out as to the difference in the quarterbacks was an out pass to Gonzo and the TD to Challenger. Let me explain. BC runs many of the same patterns over and over. One of the staples is two receivers wide left running deep combos. They usually take coverage with them leaving the wideout from the right to drag across the middle. Porter loves throwing to the underneath guy. It is a high percentage completion. Often good for five yards. The big plays are with the down field routes on the left. As soon as Ryan came in we ran the play and Matty went left for a big gain to Gonzo. It is a play Porter hasn’t been making. The other play that stood out was the Challenger TD. Ryan’s read was to the right. He dropped back. Had time. Nothing right. He pumped right to shake the safety and without waiting he threw a beautiful ball left for a TD. Now he got help with a great catch from Challenger. But that is another play that Porter does not make.
No one likes a QB controversy. TOB doesn’t need one. The way to end it is by playing your best player and I think that is Matt Ryan.
The defense played really, really well. Their backs were against the wall and were shorthanded the entire game. Critiques first. The second unit linebackers had a rough day. They have played really well this whole year, but had trouble defending the option. Fortunately the first unit played most of the day and played well. This game showed what a difference Kiwi makes. Without him, the D-line had trouble getting much penetration. The interior lineman did their best, but Wake ran away from them towards the edges. I also question Spaz a little. He run blitzed the first two downs with success and then only went back to it one more time the rest of the day. Those were my only complaint.
Now for the good stuff. I get on Henderson for his ole tackles, but he made a few huge plays, including a sack of Randolph. Silva is huge. I’ve been a fan since the preseason. However, the guy he replaced in the starting lineup, Anan, had one of his better days. Anan has become a much better tackler. Glasper had a few games savers. Toal was everywhere. Good job by Morris and Akins in relief. But more than anything the team played well as a group. A lot of gang tackles. A lot of composure and they stepped up when the needed two. After we scored to get it to 30-28, they came in and shut down Wake on three straight plays. Raji, Glasper and Silva deserve game balls for that series.
Special teams: C+
Fortunately no field goal attempts. Will and Andre both had long returns that were negated (one fumble, one penalty). The rest of the returns were ho hum. Will made a bad decision on one punt return late in the first half. His letting it bounce cost us 15 yards. I cannot understand what is going on there. Petercuskie signaled something to him. I hope it was not “fair catch.” You’ve got to let your senior return man make those decisions himself. Troost was solid. Ayers had a good day…even with the blocked punt. Watching a second time, it is easy to see what happened. Akins got beat inside and Henderson had already taken off. Regular readers know these sorts of breakdowns are common occurrences. I haven’t noticed if Akins is new to the punt team or just filling in, but regardless, Henderson has got to stay back and help him out. At this point coaching has to be called into question. Either we are not giving them proper instruction or not taking enough time in practice to work on it. We were lucky that the two special teams mistakes were not more costly. Doing that against the Hokies will kill any dreams of an upset.
I really should be critical and give the team a C, but the defense and Matty Ryan played off the charts. We can’t do this again and expect to win. I guess things with Wake had to even out eventually.