NC State Wolfpack vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Time: 7:30 PM
Line: WF -2
Has there been a bigger game for State in the last two decades? For Wake Forest, has there been a bigger game…ever? Saturday night in Winston-Salem will define one team’s season and leave the other questioning where it went wrong. While this game isn’t a for sure “win and you’re in to the ACC Championship”, it’s about as close as it could be.
Wake Forest Preview
Wake Forest enters the game 8-1 with a #12 national ranking. Undefeated until last week’s collapse against UNC, the Deacon Demons are a story of two sides of the football. An electric offense and a defense that somehow likes to keep games interesting.
Coming into the season, there were lots of talks about what a stud QB Sam was. **Checks notes and realizes the media was in love with that other Sam in the ACC, the one that currently sits at .500). Soooooooooo…Sam Hartman has blown up in the ACC, after relatively quiet seasons of past. A 30-point difference in QBR from previous years, Hartman has 27 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. By end of this game, he’ll have crossed the 3k yardage mark. Hartman moves well and isn’t afraid to run. He has the arm strength but accuracy is sometimes off, especially on medium to long balls that are lofted instead of truly utilizing his strength.
This receiving crew is talented beyond belief. Roberson and Perry should both get to 1,000 yards receiving and double-digit touchdowns this season. Both are also heating up. Roberson is a lean WR, who in just the last three games, 19 receptions, 333 yards, 6 touchdowns. Perry in his last four games is averaging 132 yards per. They’ll sprinkle Morin and Williams in…they throw it everywhere. The backfield is steady. Similar yardage to the Pack, but they find the endzone far more. Beal-Smith, Ellison and Hartman, have a combined 19 rushing touchdowns.
Speaking of touchdowns…this Wake Forest defense. While State is tied for 6th in the nation with 16 points against average, WF finds themselves 76th at over 27. In there last four games, however, they’re averaging nearly 40 points agains (take out the Dookies and their average skyrockets to an unreal 49). Army, ARMY, put up 180 passing yards against them. UNC, Army and Syracuse all went over 300 yards of rushing. There are only 9 schools in the whole country that have given up more yards on the ground per game. Their D-line can get some push behind Bothroyd and Vilain. Redd makes plays from the DB position. But there are a lot of holes, and without this offense, Wake wouldn’t be on the map whatsoever.
Keys to a Wolfpack Win
- Can Beck open this offense up? – We’re now in Week 11. We know this offense and what they’re capable of. That said, nearly all success was found in the second half of games. That can’t be the case against Wake Forest. Not, I REPEAT NOT, asking for trick plays or consistent deep throws, but this offensive game scheme needs to be balanced, attacking and repeatedly going for the throat of Wake Forest. If Knight and Person don’t have a game each, then they never will. If Carter, Emezie and Thomas don’t find separation, they never will. This is a game that the brakes need to be disconnected from the vehicle altogether and let Leary read and react.
- Defense, what kind of statement would you like to make? – Telling you now, 16 points against average is going to take a hit. I worry about State’s secondary holding up. There are moments that they are overaggressive and lose sight of routes, which is a death sentence against Wake Forest. Drake Thomas is going to have to have a hell of a game following Hartman, while cleaning up all the loose ends inside. The defensive front NEEDS to get some push back to force Hartman to shift and throw off balance. Bend don’t brake is everything in this game. Field goals against are your friend, especially when that redzone tightens Wake Forest up. If State defense can contain WF into the 30’s…build Gibson a statue.
- Keep it clean – Sounds more simple than it actually is. No silly fumbles, or bad risky throws, or bad snaps and holds, or dumb penalties that murder drives. Wake Forest isn’t prone to getting turnovers, so let’s not start a trend. Each drive needs to get to midfield at the very least. Be patient, do your job.
Defense wins championships, right? Like that’s all we need to know? Wake Forest is an absolute offensive machine, but when you look at who they’ve played defensively, it’s skewed. Only one defense faced that was ranked in top-50 (Army, which that didnt go well for the Black Knights). State brings a top defense into Winston-Salem with something to prove. We should be even more confident with the fact State’s offense hasn’t just opened it up yet this season. We got plays in the bag baby, just waiting to show them. But will we…
This should be a highlight moment for State if they can go about their business. A slow start or miscues and this game will easily be handed over to the Demon Deacons. It will be a close game, just a matter of who wants to head to Charlotte more.