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What To Watch For: Wake Forest

NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports


The best thing to come out of the Boston College game was the offense finally firing on all cylinders. I wondered aloud last week if Scott Satterfield would have more confidence in the receivers after Dez Fitzpatrick had a big game against Florida State. Well, it looks like he and the staff finally reached the comfort level to open up the entire offense. They threw everything at BC and it worked very well.

Wake Forest isn’t much better than BC on the defensive side of the ball but they aren't likely to give up the big plays that we saw on Saturday. Wake has a better pass rush with Boogie Basham up front. They also have Justin Strnad flying all over the place at linebacker and two corners that are good and experienced.

I’m not sure if any of that matters with the way this offense played on Saturday. Mekhi Becton should be able to handle Basham at right end. The misdirection and play action things that the offense does will get Strnad to bite just like it has every linebacker they’ve faced this year. Then you have Dez Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins outside to battle Wake’s corners and Tutu Atwell to take advantage of some suspect safety play. Scott Satterfield decided to take it right at Boston College last week. I expect him to do that every game going forward.


Louisville has faced a couple of solid quarterbacks this season but not many guys in the country are playing at the level Jamie Newman is. Newman is hitting passes all over the field with ease and he is also running the ball really well in the Wake Forest scheme. He’s the type of player that you try to contain as opposed to stopping him.

Newman poses his biggest threat as a down field passer. He has two big targets to throw to and he does a really good job of making sure they have a chance to make a play on every throw. Louisville has given up a couple of long throws but those were two speedy receivers who can take the top off a defense. Wake hasn’t really done that as much this year but they have worked the sidelines with those big guys. Newman kills on those throws.

He also has shown a great ability to hit guys right on the money on slant routes. Those throws are the ones that Louisville has been giving up all season. It’s really hard to prepare for a guy that can throw the ball so well at every level of the defense. Then you throw in his great ability to run the ball and to extend plays with his arm. Louisville will have to bring multiple guys to take him down as a runner. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he is the toughest runner to bring down on the entire schedule.


I might be beating a dead horse at this point but there were still times in the Boston College game where plays were getting in to the defense as the ball was being snapped. I’m not in the meeting rooms or watching film with these guys so I don’t know what the issue is but it’s an obvious issue that needs to be fixed. I don’t think that the late calls were the issue with the defense against BC but it was definitely a problem against Florida State. It would definitely cause issues against at team like Wake that can go as fast as anyone and is running more plays per game than anyone in the country.

Wake doesn’t seem to go as fast as they did a couple of years ago but that’s likely due to Dave Clawson feeling like he finally has things where he wants them there. He has always been upfront about why he uses tempo to gain an advantage because his teams were overmatched from a talent standpoint. However, I would be stunned if they don’t speed things up this weekend. They will look to take advantage of the calls coming in late and one has to hope that Bryan Brown knows this.


The best way to slow down an explosive offense is to keep them on the sidelines. Louisville was able to hold Boston College under it’s season average in time of possession and they will need to do the same this weekend. Wake has an offense that is really hard to shut down. They can hit you in so many ways which makes it hard to key on one thing. So, you have to then try to take away their chances of scoring on you.

Scott Satterfield said on Monday that he doesn’t utilize time of possession as a specific statistic that they track but they do want balance. The offense has been very explosive this year but they have also done a good job of not ramping up the tempo so that they stay on the field longer. The goal is to keep the defense as fresh as possible but it has the added benefit of keeping the opposition off the field. North Carolina did a great job of minimizing the amount of plays Wake ran. They were about even in time of possession and they held the Wake offense to 24 points. I think Louisville could have a similar outcome if they control the ball.