What UVA fans need to know about Wake Forest

wake forestWake Forest and UVA have each played three games, and have two common opponents. It’s not hard to make a case that Wake played them better.

Ok, the Demon Deacons were never in their game against #1 Clemson. The 37-13 final was more about Dabo Swinney taking his foot off the gas up 37-3 midway through the third of the season opener.

But the 45-42 loss to NC State, which took a two-score lead early and never looked back at UVA on Saturday, was a back-and-forth affair all the way.

And actually, credit to Wake, which fell behind 21-7 early in the second, then fought its way back to actually take the lead in the fourth, on a Kenneth Walker III 2-yard TD run with 9:12 to go, before State’s answer, a Ricky Person Jr. TD run with 5:51 to go that put the Pack ahead to stay.

What stood out to me about that one is how efficient Wake Forest was in the red zone – five TDs on five trips.

Looking at the drive chart for the Wake-State game, you see 14 plays-75 yards, 9 plays-75 yards, 12 plays-75 yards, 9 plays-70 yards, 9 plays-65 yards.

The odd stat: all those long drives, and the Deacs had just 385 yards total offense on the day in that one.

Again, pretty efficient.

Offense

Sam Hartman, a 6’1”, 215-pound redshirt sophomore, is the QB1. Don’t forget that Wake, by all rights, should have Jamie Newman (145.4 passer rating, 85.1 PFF grade, 2,868 yards through the air, 60.9% completion rate, 26TDs/11INTs, 574 yards and 6 TDs on the ground in 2019) back for his redshirt senior season, but Newman grad-transferred to Georgia, then left there when it became clear that he wasn’t going to win their QB job.

This just in: life ain’t fair.

Hartman has put up fine numbers thus far in 2020 – a 139.3 passer rating, 78.2 PFF grade, 584 yards through the air, 63.0% completion rate, 2 TDs/0 INTs.

He isn’t a threat with his feet – because of losses to sack yardage, he actually is under water 33 yards through three games on the ground.

The backfield has two solid contributors – Walker, a 5’10”, 206-pound sophmore (86.7 PFF grade, 255 yards, 5.8 yards/carry, 4TDs) and Christian Beal-Smith, a 5’10”, 201-pound redshirt junior (75.2 PFF grade, 198 yards, 4.5 yards/carry, 4 TDs).

The most intriguing weapon downfield to me is 6’5” redshirt sophomore A.T. Perry (63.9 PFF grade, 11 catches, 142 yards, 12.8 yards/catch).

I like big receivers.

The others in the wideout room are little guys who try to outrun the defense – 6’1” redshirt junior Jaquarii Roberson (91.1 PFF grade, 13 catches, 188 yards, 14.5 yards/catch, 1 TD), 5’10” redshirt freshman Taylor Morin (79.1 PFF grade, 14 catches, 165 yards, 11.8 yards/catch, 2 TDs) and 6’2” redshirt freshman Donavon Greene (62.6 PFF grade, 6 catches, 125 yards, 20.8 yards/catch).

The Deacs have a nice pair of bookends on the O line at tackle – 6’5, 305-pound redshirt junior Zach Tom (84.2 PFF grade) and 6’3”, 298-pound redshirt senior Je’Vionte’ Nash (77.3 PFF grade).

Defense

The leading tackler on the unit is 6’2” redshirt senior edge linebacker Ja’Cquez Williams (50.1 PFF grade, 26 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 hurry, 1 forced fumble).

The best player might be 6’1” redshirt sophomore safety Zion Keith (75.4 PFF grade, 19 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass breakup, 1 fumble recovery).

Carlos Basham Jr., a 6’5”, 285-pound redshirt senior, is the most effective pass rusher (63.4 PFF grade, 3 sacks, 10 hurries, 1 batted pass).

In general, this is a team that can get gashed. Wake is 12th in the ACC in total defense (462.0 yards per game), and keep in mind that one of the team’s three games came against Campbell, an FCS school that the Deacs beat down by a 66-14 final.

Special teams

Junior placekicker Nick Sciba is fair (60.5 PFF grade, 3-of-6 on field goal tries, with a 42-yard long).

Grad kickoff specialist Jack Crane (61.6 PFF grade) is averaging 61.9 yards per kickoff, with 13 touchbacks and 1 out-of-bounds on 21 kicks.

Redshirt freshman punter Ivan Mora (60.8 PFF grade) is averaging 35.8 yards per punt, with three of his 10 punts downed inside the 20.

Greene, the wideout averaging 20+ yards per catch, has a kick-return TD, inflating his average return a bit, to 43.5 yards per, but, you’ve been warned.

Morin, a key wideout, handles punt returns, and is averaging 15.2 yards on his five returns to this point.

Story by Chris Graham


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