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Film Review: Wake Forest First Quarter

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Cards are coming off their biggest wins in a good while and it was only right that I documented it with a detailed film review. As always, this is my non-expert opinion on the game.

UofL got off to a strong start. Let’s get to it.

Let’s start with one of my favorite plays of the game on offense. UofL gets itself in a third and long but malik Cunningham makes a really nice throw to get the first down. Tyler Hudson has been talked up as a guy with a great catch radius and we’re finally getting to see it.

Malik has been very inconsistent but I think this throw was the first time I felt that there was trust building with Hudson. Teams will play them tight out wide and putting this ball where Hudson can make a play is a good sign.

I think Scott Satterfield had a good plan early on to get Malik some designed runs and run opportunities within the offense and this play was a good example of that. This is when Malik’s running ability is extremely valuable because he truly is an extra player that the defense has to account for.

Where UofL has veered off the road for me is the over-reliance on Malik in these situations when teams are ready for it. Mixing up what they do in short-yardage situations would go a long way for the rest of the season.

Give me this all day in the passing game. The deep throws haven’t materialized but this is a nice 20-yard play with a receiver running away from the defense. The only complaint I have is that I’d like to see this run with Ahmari Huggins-Bruce to see if he can get better separation.

I have a theory that Malik is struggling with finding the perfect throw. He’s been overthrowing guys or underthrowing them wildly this year and it has led to him putting the ball right on guys in some instances. This throw is perfectly fine but I wonder if he didn’t lay it in and lead him here because he was worried about leading him too much.

The first snap of the game for the defense and Ashton Gillotte whips his man for a near sack-fumble. This is a pressure that UofL ran all day and they essentially just tweaked it in different ways.

They brought a rusher off the edge in some way to Hartman’s right side and just beat the left tackle over and over again throughout the game. This was obviously something they saw on film and Bryan Brown said he went all the way back to when Wake Forest played App State a handful of years ago. They had a plan and they stuck with it all day.

Another example of Louisville being able to leverage Malik’s running ability with their run plan. UofL has been running much more inside zone and other runs inside the tackles. When they had their strong offensive performance against UVA a few weeks ago, it became apparent that their offensive line could get push inside and create room for the running backs.

On this play, Malik gets an easy read on the edge defender and he makes them pay with a nice run off of the option. Unfortunately, he ends up having the defender land on his knee.

Malik does everything right here up until he throws the wrong ball. His footwork and mechanics are very good here. His fake to the running back is smooth and fluid and he then transitions into his drop back. Then he steps into a throw down the field and he ends up throwing a ball on too much of a line and up the field.

What I would have liked to see here is Malik throw the ball toward the pylon with some air under it. Let AHB go get it out in front of him instead of forcing him to adjust here.

I thought this was a very nice play design by Scott Satterfield. The motion moves the defense and they pack in with the bunch look from UofL. The motion also gives an indicator to what coverage they are in. No one really runs with the motion man but just shifts a bit. That indicates zone and Jahwar Jordan comes open pretty quickly.

The other little thing I liked about this play was Malik’s eye discipline. He gathers the low snap here and immediately stares down the space with three wake defenders. They all freeze for just a second and that allows Jordan to have more space to operate.

Team defense has been a feature of the defense over the last few weeks and this play is a good look at it. Momo Sanogo doesn’t show his hand here and he crashes the blocking scheme and pushes the right tackle back into the backfield. That allows Monty Montgomery to run free into the gap and make a solid open field tackle. The pulling guard ends up standing and staring at his running back on the ground.

The other aspect of this play that I liked was that Josh Minkins is sliding down into the box for run support. He’s replacing Momo to be there for a tackle but there’s also a coverage aspect here that I like. The initial look is Minkins in off coverage on the slot receiver with Ben Perry looking to blitz off the edge. They had run that pressure a couple of times and on this play, they flip it. Perry plays man coverage on the slot and Minkins slides into the box. they mixed things up all game and protected themselves from the big play.

This is a “blitz” but it’s also just a five-man pressure. It was the best defensive design I saw all game and it is absolutely beautiful. Four guys end up free as the quarterback hits the ground and I’m not sure you could ask for much more as a defensive coordinator.

Louisville shows as many as seven guys blitzing pre-snap on this play but guys move around and give Sam Hartman a lot to look at. Ashton Gillotte and Yaya Diaby are the only down linemen and Monty Montgomery and Yasir Abdullah are lined up as rush ends. Momo and Tre Clark show blitz with M.J. Griffin also walking up to the line.

Minkins takes his time to walk into the box and try to time his blitz, which he obviously does well. But there are two things on this play that need to be called out. Momo is responsible for blitzing at an angle and pulling the guard with him. He does that. Griffin will either get a free shot on the quarterback or he has to occupy the running back. He does that as well. Minkins has a free run and he makes the most of it.

The second thing to watch is Monty and Yasir. They’re both lined up as rush ends and they’re showing that they are coming. But they both back out into the quick passing lanes for Hartman. He knows he has zone to throw at because the receiver in motion doesn’t even move the defense. But he doesn’t know these guys are going to jump into his sightline. I really enjoyed this play.

Michael Gonzalez puts his man outside the hash on this play and clears out the space Tiyon Evans needs to make something out of nothing. This play is supposed to go inside and maybe you could find a cutback lane if Gonzalez kicks his man out to the right.

Instead, Gonzalez essentially washes down the line and Evans has a path after Bryan Hudson gets stood up in the middle of the line. Evans doesn’t hesitate or slow down and he’s able to run out of the first two tackle attempts. Instead of a negative play, the Cards get a first down.