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Deep Dive: Wake Forest offense against the Virginia defense

Wake Forest
There are no UVA defenders in the frame as Wake Forest tailback Kenneth Walker III bursts 75 yards to paydirt in the 2020 game. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Virginia had trouble with Sam Howell last week in its 59-39 loss to North Carolina. Another Sam, Sam Hartman, presents the challenge this week with Wake Forest coming to town.

Hartman was 31-of-40 for 259 yards, two TDs and one INT in Wake’s 35-14 win over Florida State in Week 3.

The Demon Deacons also ran for 244 yards and 56 rushing attempts in the big win.

Our Deep Dive today takes a look at what Wake did offensively against FSU, compares that effort to what UNC was able to do last week in Chapel Hill, and also looks back at the Deacs’ 40-23 win over UVA in 2020.


Hartman was 16-of-27 for 309 yards and a TD in the win in Winston-Salem last fall. The damage came on play-action and deep balls.

  • Line: 2-of-3, 12 yards
  • 0-9: 8-of-11, 81 yards
  • 10-19: 1-of-3, 19 yards
  • 20+: 5-of-9, 197 yards, 1 TD
  • Play-action: 6-of-9, 169 yards, 1 TD
  • Against blitz: 11-of-17, 193 yards, 1 TD

The run game gained 206 yards on 38 rushing attempts.

The attack focused up the middle – the A and B gaps, with 139 yards on 26 tries.

Wake-FSU: Week 3

The game plan was different for FSU in the passing game, with Hartman focusing more on the short and intermediate balls.

  • Line: 3-of-3, 6 yards
  • 0-9: 12-of-13, 87 yards
  • 10-19: 5-of-9, 73 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • 20+: 2-of-3, 93 yards, 1 TD
  • Play-action: 9-of-12, 141 yards, 1 TD
  • Against blitz: 4-of-6, 35 yards

The run game again focused on the A and B gaps, with 179 yards on 30 carries up the middle and at right and left guard.

UVA-UNC: Week 3

Sam Howell was 14-of-21, 307 yards, five TDs, one INT.

  • Line: 6-of-6, 55 yards
  • 0-9: 4-of-6, 92 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
  • 10-19: 2-of-2, 86 yards, 1 TD
  • 20+: 2-of-7, 74 yards, 1 TD
  • Play-action: 13-of-19, 282 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT
  • Against blitz: 4-of-6, 33 yards, 1 TD

UNC ran for 392 yards, the focus coming in the A and B gaps, with 231 yards on 24 rushing attempts.


North Carolina softened Virginia up last week by breaking two short passes for long TDs, then unleashing a devastating rushing attack that pounded the UVA front mercilessly.

The Wake game in 2020 played out similarly. Hartman hit A.T. Perry with a 40-yard TD pass on the Deacons’ first possession, then set up a short Kenneth Walker III TD run with a 49-yard pass completion to Jaquarii Roberson.

Both Hartman and Howell got big chunks of yardage on play-action.

Both QBs seem adept at knowing where to go with the ball against the blitz.

Wake’s staff is going to see a lot from last week’s and last year’s tape worth attacking.

How does the Virginia staff respond?

Do the ‘Hoos scrap the 3-3-5 to go to a more traditional 3-4 front to provide more help up front against the run?

Does the expected debut of North Dakota State transfer cornerback Josh Hayes help lockdown a side of the field against intermediate and deep balls?

Will we see more physicality out of the UVA D?

Story by Chris Graham