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What To Watch For: Wake Forest

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The #W2W4 focuses on the offenses this week.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

GREG DORTCH IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD

Wake Forest is a much better team on offense this year and a lot of that improvement comes from Greg Dortch. Dortch already has more catches and yards than any receiver last year and the most touchdowns by a receiver since 2013. He does everything for this offense and no one has been able to slow him down much because they move him around a lot.

Even though they put him outside and in the slot, I think he does the most damage in the middle of the field. Dortch is more quick than fast so getting him on a safety/linebacker/star is a win for the offense. It gets him away from press coverage (He’s roughly 165 pounds). It keeps him away from guys that can run from him, also. The biggest plus is that it puts him in position to make a catch with a little bit of space around him. Dortch isn’t the type of guy to make a catch and go down like a Hunter Renfrow. He always looks to duck out of a tackle or cut back in some way. With Louisville’s issues with tackling this year, he could cause some serious problems if he gets open.

WILL LOUISVILLE COMMIT TO THE RUN AGAIN?

For the first time all year, Louisville truly dedicated themselves to the run and it worked out extremely well. The offense averaged over six yards per carry and it helped to keep the defense rested. Louisville is now ranked 8th in the country in rushing yards per carry but they are 93rd in attempts per game. I feel like every week I point out how well they run the ball but I also end up pointing out how they refuse to do it more. That changed against FSU.

Louisville didn’t look for balance. They looked to run with power to soften up the defense and then hit FSU with read option runs. When Lamar made the right reads, they had to respect Reggie Bonnafon and that freed up Lamar to hit big runs outside. It’s honestly the same thing they did against FSU last year and Texas A&M the year before. It works when they commit to it but that hasn’t happened much this year.

Wake is coming off of a loss to Georgia Tech where they struggled with their triple option. UofL doesn’t have the plays or the concepts that Tech has but they have the advantage of going up against a defense that is likely banged up after dealing with cut blocks and power runs all game. They should use it to their advantage.

WAKE WILL SLOW THINGS DOWN AGAIN BUT WILL THEY GO FOR TOUCHDOWNS?

Last year’s game was a good precursor for the way that the season ended. Louisville couldn’t get anything done on offense and the defense couldn’t get off the field. Luckily, Brandon Radcliff went off in the fourth quarter and Louisville walked away with a victory that looked a lot better than it really was. The issue at the end of the day is that Wake played the better game. They just didn’t have anywhere near the offensive ability to get touchdowns instead of field goals.

Wake ran the ball 49 times in last year’s game for all of 73 yards. But they racked up 16 first downs and they held the ball for 38 minutes in the game. I could see them look to hold the ball again this year but I would be shocked if they played so conservatively. Wake can throw the ball this year and they can hit some big plays. They’ve also played more clean this year with only four turnovers. One would think that Clawson would be more comfortable with the idea of trying to actually beat Louisville as opposed to just outlasting them.

LOUISVILLE HAS TO WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE

To update a statistic that I’ve mentioned a good amount this year, Louisville has turned the ball over 41 out of 46 games since 2014. They’ve given up 28 points on three pick sixes and one fumble recovery this year. They also allowed this game to stay close with their turnovers in last year’s game. Like I pointed out above, this isn’t the same type of Wake offense that turned those turnovers into three field goals. They’ll hit a big play here and there and a short field could easily turn into a touchdown.

Louisville also needs to keep their momentum and energy up to make sure that they don’t end up where they did against BC. The FSU game showed a renewed energy level that translated into big plays on defense and offense. The team was able to withstand a bad defensive score because they made plays on their end, also. Turnovers are always a big play in a game, but a turnover in front of your home crowd can really swing the momentum. Wake needs those plays and UofL needs to get their own to get the crowd out of the game while getting themselves pumped up.