Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Wake Forest
I am still on a high, but the second viewing dampened things a bit. Davis was as raw as he appeared live. The special teams didn’t hold up as well in the second go around either.
I feel for Crane. Regardless of how he played, he waited patiently for four years and just when it was all lining up for him, he breaks his collarbone. I think he’ll get a shot as a practice squad guy or in the CFL. Hopefully he recovers fully and gets to do what he wants. As for the actually game, Crane’s start was so-so. The fumble was another case of not protecting the ball. He also had a bad throw where he missed Robinson for a TD. Davis…where do you start? Considering the circumstances and the outcome, we can’t really complain. His primary problem was his hesitation. He hesitated on his reads. He hesitated in the pocket on whether to run or stay. He hesitated on the option reads. He admitted to jitters and nerves. The speed would get to most redshirt freshmen QBs. Fortunately he recovered to lead us to the win. By my count he had six really bad throws and the WRs only had one true drop. The good news: his short outs and passes to the flats were solid. He can throw the fade. His throws over the middle and in traffic weren’t as pretty. He was lucky that two other passes weren’t picks. The good news was he did just enough and now he has a week to get mentally and physically ready for Maryland.
The running backs played well. Haden received more of the carries and did his best job yet of finding the holes in the zone. Haden also had the biggest mistake of the two. He missed the blitz pick up on Davis’ second fumble (in fairness to him, it was a delayed blitz). Harris was contained a bit in part because most of his carries came when Wake was keying on the run. Harris was a more important part of the passing game. I imagine that both will get plenty of throws this week as we try to make things easier for Davis.
The offensive line had another strong game. Tennant got the yips a little early with the snaps, but calmed down as the game wore on and played very, very well. His block on the screen pass might have been the best block of the day. Ramsey was very good and there were plenty of holes around his area. Castonzo was very good. Claiborne had one of his best games. Lapham allowed a sack but other than that played well.
Purvis only caught one ball, but was very good blocking. Gunnell saved the day with the long catch, but he was also very good on the comeback routes. Robinson was very good. Jarvis had a rare drop. Anderson blocked well.
The play calling was appropriate. With Crane we picked up where we left off and it looked a lot like the FSU game (fumble included). Once Davis saw the field the tone and approach changed. It also got conservative. However, Logan seemed to find things that played to Davis’ strength (the classic option looked good). The passes to the flats were good. And he found the right type of plays on the final drive.
The defensive line played well early. Raji and Brace were their usually menacing selves. Giles and Ramella both had their best games of the season. They did a good job at containing and collapsing the pocket. The two Ends also helped disrupt Wake’s attempts to run the ball on the edges. A little disconcerting was Raji and Brace’s efforts in the fourth quarter. They seemed worn and were finally getting blown off the ball. Perhaps they were gassed, which is not surprising since the second teamers barely got on the field. When they did, they blew up a reverse (Scafe and Ramsey in particular).
Herzy got the accolades and made two game-changing plays, but I thought McLaughlin and Francois were also very, very good. The three of them had their best day in coverage in a month. They all tackled well. They only real nit picky moments were a missed tackle by Francois and Herzy losing contain on a big pass from Skinner.
Rollins -- excellent. A corner is at his best in Spaz’s scheme when he closes quickly and wraps up. That is what Rollins did yesterday. He was good in coverage and great in tackling. Easily his best game of the season. Davis was also very good…good run support and pass. Anderson struggled a bit. On Wake’s one TD he got faked out by their play action. He also missed a tackle. Gause was very good. Fletcher nearly had another INT. Akins was quiet. Bowman was good (although he had a dumb penalty on one of the kick returns).
The defensive scheme was excellent. We held them to the lowest yardage of the Grobe era. We put pressure on Skinner early and kept him off balance all day. We had a higher percentage of blitz than we’ve used all season. Obviously bringing Herzy was very effective, but McLaughlin, Rollins, Akins and Gause all came at different times. My one little gripe about the defensive plan is the shortened rotation. I understand the short rotation with the linebackers as those second team guys are not ready for prime time. I don’t understand it with the defensive line. I know there will be a drop off anytime you take Raji and Brace off the field, but keeping them fresh is important too. And the guys like Scafe and Ramsey looked good in limited playing time. They deserved more snaps. The rotation wasn’t as tight in the secondary but it didn’t seem to be as balanced as it has been.
Special teams: C+
Harris looks better and better each week returning kicks. The blocking seemed improved too.
Steve Aponavicius made his Field Goals.
Gunnell couldn’t do much with the punt returns. Wake’s punts weren’t long but the coverage got their quick.
The kickoffs were a mixed bag. Quigley was inconsistent as was the coverage.
The punts were also wildly inconsistent. The Flutie directional worked. Quigley also got some good rolls. The bigger problem was the punt protection. Wake blocked one on blown assignments from Herzy and Newman. Wake nearly blocked another. With the game going the way it did, Special Teams took on extra importance. We were lucky the breakdowns didn't cost us the game.
Once again the team came out with the right defensive scheme and the right emotional one. When things looked bleak, they rallied. Jags also deserves credit for keeping Davis calm on the last drive and managing the clock well. This has been a heck of a stretch...hats off to Jags for getting the team on track after Clemson and then winning three critical games. Now let's keep it going against Maryland.