In the preview I said I wanted Chase to throw more and open it up more. We didn't do that. But the limited passing wasn't all dink and dunk. I liked the growing aggressiveness and Chase threw some better deep balls. There were still a few that had too much air, but overall good stuff. He had some bad throws -- including that last INT -- but in general I thought he played well. Our WRs had plenty of space and Chase was able to complete those open passes without the WRs breaking stride. We also saw him stumble early in the pocket, yet keep his feet and complete his passes downfield. That was the second time it has happened in two weeks. I don't know why he keeps stumbling, but you have to like the composure. On some of our bad drives he made the smart decision to run rather than force a bad pass. Still very early to tell what he will be, but another encouraging effort.
As he ascends up the record book, accolades are starting to roll in for Montel. He's a very good back, but what you have to like are the things that are tough to measure -- like his ability to shake tackles. Twice on Saturday, he basically ducked under and shook off a tackler for big gains. Most of his runs were pretty simple. We did the stretch and the traps and he hit the openings for nice gains. I also appreciate that when we needed to keep the ball and shift field position we could depend on him and the OLine to pick up those needed first downs. McCluskey had another good day as a lead blocker and as a pass catcher. He even got a good burst on his dive carry. (It is a shame we haven't used him more on offense.) Williams was okay (I'll get to his special teams play later).
After his day, the narrative on Coleman was that he "broke out" after a few games without a catch. That really doesn't capture his or any of our WRs issues. We just don't throw it enough for any of them to be real impact players. But Johnathan is showing good speed and runs hard after the catch. Swigert didn't fill up the stat sheet but I thought the biggest plus in his column was narrowly avoiding a huge hit from a safety. Those instinctive plays give hope that he can make the most of his time in the slot. Pantale was good and both TEs blocked well (mostly sealing off on Montel's runs). Amidon's one catch was a big play. Momah was fine and is doing a better job holding on. (Momah has been great on special teams BTW.)
The offensive line epitomized the offense's day in Winston-Salem. They dominated most of their matchups and did things they've been striving to do all year. Yet they also had enough mistake and mental errors to kill a few different drives. Castonzo was good and probably had his best all around game in a few weeks. White was good in relief as was Cleary. In fact the right side of the line might have played better than the usual starters Spinney was good but had a costly bad snap.
Before I get into Tranq's day, let's revisit this drive following Fletcher's INT:
-- 1st-10, WAKE18 9:59 M. Harris rushed to the right for 1 yard gain
-- 2nd-9, WAKE17 9:59 Boston Coll. committed 10 yard penalty
-- 2nd-19, WAKE27 9:08 C. Rettig sacked by M. Woodlief
-- 3rd-29, WAKE37 9:08 Boston Coll. committed 5 yard penalty
-- 3rd-34, WAKE42 8:00 Boston Coll. committed 5 yard penalty
-- 3rd-39, WAKE47 7:30 C. Rettig rushed up the middle for 8 yard gain
-- 4th-31, WAKE39 6:55 R. Quigley punt. L. Jackson returned punt for no gain
At the time I asked on twitter if this was the worst drive of the Tranq era. The run on first down followed by a few mistakes by the line, then a QB running for his life sort of sums up a lot. I know it was only one drive, but this doesn't happen to great offenses. You turn a redzone trip after an INT into some points, preferably 7. Overall I respect that Tranq kept running traps and stretches with Harris since Wake really couldn't do much with it. I just wish that we were a little more aggressive. And where was all the shifting we used against Clemson? The points improved but I still think there was more the O could have done.
It is too bad Scafe's career has been slowed by nagging injuries and his back. He's shown that he can be a real game changer inside. Ramsey was disruptive too. Holloway and Edebali were good. Newman was a little more limited. Williams saw a few snaps too. Quinn was quiet.
It is interesting that Kuechly attributed his INT as being in the right place at the right time. After that first series it seemed like he wasn't in the right place at the right time since he took a bad angle on one of Harris's early runs. He settled in and had another good day. KPL played well. Herzy played well, but didn't seem to get as many snaps as recent weeks. Morrissey seemed to be the beneficiary of those extra snaps.
Although he wasn't tested much, Fletcher looked good. Fox played well but he doesn't seem to come up as quickly as Gause does on running plays. Noel made a nice play. Okoroha got whistled for a dumb late hit. It was shame that the DBs as a group got burned on that last TD. Wake has scored on us four or five times in the past decade with some variation of that yet we are still caught off guard.
The defense kept things simple. Unlike last week's various zones and dropping eight and nine into coverage, this week we played our usual base. My only real compliant though was the previously mentioned reverse pass TD. How are we still falling for that after all this time?
Special teams: C-
The special teams' grade might seem overly harsh but it is primarily based on the missed kicks and the bobbled returns. I like Williams, but we need someone sure handed back there. The punting was very good.
I liked the keep it simple gameplan. I liked the do something until they stop it mentality. My problem with the game though was we really outplayed them and didn't have much to show for it. In fact they made it interesting in the 4th quarter. In college football you really need to have a killer instinct as a game manager. If you let teams hang around they will steal games from you.
Spaz has us nearing .500 and keeping bowl hopes alive. But we our final few games are not gimmes. He needs to keep the team focused and prepared for three different types of offenses.