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Wake Forest Film Review: Third Quarter

NCAA Football: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest more plays than an average game by the end of the third quarter and you could tell. Louisville’s defense started to make some mental errors against the run and the defensive front wasn’t chasing plays like they had been. But they played well enough to only give up a touchdown and then a field goal on a short field. Louisville’s offense continued to do whatever they wanted in the passing game.


Louisville opened up the half with another huge kick return from Hassan Hall. The same thing happened on both returns as Hall ends up pausing after running into a blocker and Wake sucks in towards the ball. Hall is able to use his speed to literally run away from Essang Bassey and he keeps his feet as Bassey gets him on the thigh and then falls on his back foot.

Keion Wakefield gets another hilarious block on the kicker here but I love watching him fly up the field on these returns. As soon as he sees that Hall gets away, he turns up field and he turns on the jets. He knows that he has a fast guy behind him and he needs to clear a path. He runs past a guy that most would turn inside to and try to block and instead keeps heading up field. I just love seeing that. A very heads up play.


How awesome is this play design? Louisville runs a play that you typically see used for a big play down the field but they run it on the fifteen yard line. Tutu Atwell runs the bubble screen action and all three defenders to that side of the field bite on it. Why wouldn’t you? You don’t expect to see this type of thing so close to the goal line. That leaves Seth Dawkins and Dez Fitzpatrick wide open in the end zone.

Evan Conley makes a very veteran play here because you can see that Dawkins flashes open immediately. But he knows that Seth is heading more towards the middle of the field. So instead of risking this pass getting picked off or broken up, he takes his time and waits for Dez to come free. You can see his shoulders turn from Seth to the outside and he lets it rip.


This was the first game that the Louisville corners were tested and I think they did a good job overall. Chandler Jones does a good job of turning and running with Sage Surratt but he does allow a bit too much separation. Surratt pushes off and Jones grabs his jersey to keep up which I loved. But we also see how hard it is to defend big receivers like Surratt. Jones is there with him but this pass is high and on a line so Surratt is able to go from 6-3 to much bigger because he can extend. There’s no real way to defend this pass but Jones is there to make it a harder catch. Boston College did a good job with this, also. If you’re there, good things can happen. Or at least not bad things.


Here’s a nice call by Bryan Brown on third and long. They show double barrel blitzers before the snap with edge pressure, also. The inside guys back out and that leaves everyone else 1-on-1 as the center ends up not blocking anyone. That gives the twist action that they run outside the opportunity to work well and it gets home. G.G. Robinson loops outside as Monty Montgomery crashes inside to push the left tackle into the pocket. The guard gets picked by Montgomery’s rush and G.G. gets a free path to Jamie Newman.

Brown likes to bring four guys with his pass rush. He’s spoken about that a lot since he arrived in Louisville. I think we’ll see more plays like this as the year goes on. Louisville has just gone up against a few offensive lines that don’t give up sacks.


This was a much better run by the Louisville offense. To me, it looked like Wake lined up in gaps as opposed to heads up with the line throughout the game. That worked well for them a lot because it confused the blocking scheme. Here it works against them. The left end tries to get outside to set the edge but Ean Pfeifer and Tyler Haycraft run him out of the play. Robbie Bell does a really good job to get a seal on #90 in the middle and T.J. McCoy gets a double on him to push him down the field and away from the path of the run. Javian Hawkins gets a massive hole to run through and you can see that he knew he just had to make one guy miss to score.


Evan Conley makes a big freshman mistake here. Louisville calls a pretty simple concept against Wake’s cover two. Tutu Atwell is in the slot to the top of the screen and he runs a skinny post through the middle of the field. The outside receivers are running go routes to keep the safeties occupied. Conley sees that and he does what you expect freshmen to do and tries to hit the home run ball to Tutu. He then underthows it by about 20 yards or so.

What made the throw worse is that he had about 30 yards of free space in front of him. The closest person to the line of scrimmage when he lets the ball go is the guy that picks off the pass. That guy was running towards Tutu until he saw the ball was thrown short. We saw Micale Cunningham run when he had an open guy earlier in this game. Sometimes taking the safe play is better than risking the bad play.


This is the second longest play Louisville has given up this year that wasn’t a busted coverage. The pressure nearly gets home with the linebacker blitz off the backside. They slant this to the left and you can see Dorian Etheridge (?) delay a bit and then come off the corner. The running back does well to just widen him out enough.

Anthony Johnson gets beat on a double move by Sage Surratt and can’t catch up in time to be able to play the ball. I like that Bryan Brown spoke this week about his guys being there in coverage because that’s all you can ask for. Wake put the ball down the sideline a lot and Louisville was there each time. He also said that “those guys are on scholarship too”. Sometimes they just beat you.


I was on the lookout for plays that showed how Wake was able to get 12 tackles for loss and slow down Louisville’s running backs. This play shows what I saw a lot. Carlos Basham is at left end for Wake. On the snap, the line fires to the right for an outside zone run. Instead of flowing outside like we see on a run further up in this post, he plays it straight. So he’s essentially in Adonis Boone’s gap but Boone has a guy heads up on him and he chips him before going to the second level. Wake shot through these gaps at the snap and made it really hard for guys to know who to block. From what I saw watching the game, it looks like they took the “zone” out of the zone blocking scheme.


It seems like Conley’s comfort zone is these deep crossers that Satterfield has been running a lot. The play action pulls the linebackers up the field and it opens up the middle of the field. It also freezes the safety at the left of the screen. Wake is in man coverage but Dez is able to run away from the coverage. The safety that froze? He’s the guy that ends up flailing at Dez after he makes the catch.

Another thing that I love about this play is that it has a later read that could go for a big play. Tutu ends up turning up the field after he fakes the jet sweep. If the linebackers don’t bite here, they’re going to be reading Conley as he looks to Dez. Tutu is going to be streaking down the sideline with a safety trying to chase him.


The defense did a good job early in the game playing patiently and executing their assignments. Then their run fits got thrown in the dumpster for whatever reason. Yasir Abdullah is heads up with the tight end on this play and he chases him inside on the snap for some reason. He should be on the outside shoulder of the last man but he gets inside he right tackle’s frame. That allows him to be controlled (and held) when he should be able to get outside and cut down the runner or force him inside.

A couple of plays after this, Cade Carney breaks off a big run because Robert Hicks flies so far inside that he ends up running past one of the middle linebackers. This isn’t a coaching issue when this happens. The staff talked about this stuff to the media before the game. Guys just have to execute on every snap. They’re not there yet.


In the first half, I pointed out that Louisville was playing the short screens in a way that they could take away the “screen and go”. You can see that here as Khane Pass stays back on the screen action and he’s able to take away the deep option. Anthony Johnson stays with the other receiver that is faking a block. That leaves the screen guy open but as I said before, you’re willing to give up the five yards to avoid the big play. They end up giving up nothing on this one.


Louisville was able to get a few turnovers in this game and it was really great to see the linebackers come up with them. They’ve had some real issues covering in the middle of the field but here we see Dorian Etheridge close on the route and avoid going through the receiver to get his hand on the ball. He has the same right to the football as the receiver but you have to be making a play on the ball. He’s obviously doing that here and he uses the long arm to get to the football. I probably wouldn’t have been mad if they called this pass interference but I was happy to see them eat the flag as Etheridge is playing the ball and not the man.

This is also a nice practice drill showing up on the field. Linebackers and defensive backs do “tip drills” every day so that when the ball is in the air guys get comfortable finding the ball and going and getting it. Rodjay Burns has good hands so it’s not shocking that he made this play but I loved seeing him attack the ball in the air. I also think this was the first sign that the defense was completely spent. No one even reacted to this play. Everyone just walked or jogged off the field.