In a game marked by lots of miscues by both teams and the potential arrival of Florence, the Demon Deacons lost a down-to-the-wire affair against the Eagles by a final score of 41-34.
Both teams traded punches throughout most of the match as they tied at seven, 14 and 21 points apiece over the first half.
The Wake Forest offense showed once again it can move the ball well with its third consecutive game above 500 yards of total offense. However, the huge number of yards gained did not necessarily translate into points. In six red zone trips against Boston College, Wake Forest managed to score a touchdown in only half of them.
Also, two of the Demon Deacon’s four touchdowns in the game originated from special team miscues by Boston College, one dropped punt and another one blocked.
This lack of red zone efficiency is especially alarming when comparing it with last season’s numbers. In 2017, the Deacs scored on 53 out of 56 red zone trips, good for 94.64 percent of the times and the best mark in the ACC. So far, in 2018, they scored in 16 of their 20 red zone trips, already one empty red zone trip above their mark (three) for the entire 2017 season.
“I think part of [the red zone problem] is that we haven’t made as many big plays this year. Last year we made a lot of big plays. A lot of times we have these seven, nine, and 12-play drives for us to get to the red zone and now it’s [a matter of] executing plays 11, 12 and 13,” said Coach Dave Clawson during Tuesday’s press conference.
If on offense what killed was the lack of big plays, on the other side of the ball the huge amount of explosive plays by Boston College was ultimately what cost them the game. Wake Forest’s defense surrendered a total of 524 yards in 69 averaging 7.6 yards per play.
However, the problem itself was not in the fact that they allowed 524 total yards; rather, it was in how they allowed those yards. For most of the game, the Demon Deacons were able to keep the Eagles’ offense in check, which included a solid job containing preseason All-American RB A.J Dillon. Yet, on a few plays, Boston College was able to exploit the play-action against a completely lost Wake Forest secondary.
On 59 of the 69 defensive snaps, the Deacs allowed only 180 yards, a pretty good job for an ACC team. However, on the other 10 plays, Wake Forest gave up a total of 344 yards, including long touchdown passes of 27, 35, 29, 71 and 41 yards.
“We definitely let one get away tonight. All the times they scored was just mental mistakes, mental breakdowns, like the one I gave up. I should’ve kept my eyes on my man, but I was too busy looking back for the quarterback,” said redshirt senior Cameron Glenn. “The only thing that really killed us today was our eyes. [Eye-discipline] is something that the secondary has to get better at, and we’re going to get it done.”
One clear example of this lack of eye-discipline came on the defining play of the game. On third and nine, CB Ja’Sir Taylor had a pretty good one-on-one coverage against WR Ben Glines on a go route. Yet, on the last second, Taylor looked back to the QB and lost track of his receiver resulting on a 40-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. After the win at BB&T Field, Boston College jumped to No. 23 in the nation, their first time in the AP top 25 since 2008.
However, not everything was bad news for Wake Forest against the Eagles. On offense, WR Greg Dortch once again showed why he’s the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards. Dortch finished with 164 all-purpose yards, out of which 93 were receiving yards. Wake Forest also had its running backs duo running for 100+ yards, as Matt Colburn II (117) and Cade Carney (116) combined for 233 yards in 41 rushing attempts. On defense, DTs Zeek Rodney and Willie Yarbary played really good games both holding their gaps against the run and bringing pressure up the middle.
Now, the Demon Deacons will turn their attention to a huge home matchup against No. 8 ranked Notre Dame.
“This is a top 10 team coming to Winston-Salem. It’s a [nationally televised] game and we are excited to bounce back,” Clawson said. “This is a great opportunity for our program. But, like any week, our [preparation] focus has to be on us and making sure that we get better to give ourselves the best chances to win this weekend.”
The Demon Deacons will face the No. 8 Fighting Irish on Saturday, Sept. 22 at noon at BB&T Field. The expectation is of a huge crowd on Saturday. The game will also be nationally broadcast on ABC.