A distasteful menu of mistakes and mind-tormenting moments unfolded Saturday night at Truist Field. Wake Forest got pushed to the absolute limit against Liberty, making a tackle on the two-yard-line on a two-point conversation to win the game. It would have been a behemoth bummer of a loss – but wasn’t.
But the Demon Deacons got outplayed by a team they were supposed to beat handily. They got scared out of their wits. They ran the ball 25 times for approximately 1 yard, which is something like .0000000000000025 yards per carry. They got humbled, embarrassed, and exposed. They continued their streak of leading the nation in offensive holding penalties.
The ACC message boards lit up mocking Wake football for barely escaping supposedly lowly Liberty. They’re making fun of Wake Forest football all the way from Florida State football fans to across the North Carolina college football fandom.
They’re being written off. The consensus view among rivals is that last year was a fluke when they went 11 and 3 and went to the ACC Championship Game.
No need to worry about Wake Forest if you’re another team in the ACC. They’re down this year, back to the depths they’ve wallowed in for decades as the down and desultory Demon Deacons. They aren’t a threat. They have no chance to repeat what they did last year.
And next week when Clemson rolls into Winston-Salem, the demolition of the Deacs will be diabolical and deadly. The whole nation will get to see the Orange Crush squeeze Wake Forest into fruit juice.
Yes, that’s what everybody’s now thinking. Let them think that. Please think that. Go on. Waste Wake Forest all week long. Wish for Wake Forest to go away, back to its futile football school status where it came from. Y’all got what you wanted. Clemson’s primed to punish Wake Forest and put us out of our misery and fantasies that we actually have a football program of note anymore.
This is exactly the headspace we want everybody outside Wake Forest to be occupying after last night. Especially the Wake Forest players who now will have to listen oh-so-carefully to every syllable their head coach Dave Clawson barks at them this entire week because he’s got miles of tape footage showing how they got manhandled by Liberty.
This week there will be no let-ups practice. I predict Clawson will yell at them more this week than he has in any other week. There will be no overconfidence. There will be humility and the desire to prove and fix all the mistakes. The players will listen.
They won’t be reading any hype about how they have any chance of beating Clemson. They will practice as if they have a 0.00 chance of winning and that’s when you practice your hardest, concentrate with precision and meticulous attention to detail, and don’t talk any trash or even for a scintilla of a second allow yourself to let up in any way whatsoever in practice.
There will be repetition, all week long, to improve and get things right – or get Clawed endlessly. Endless repetition leads to higher performance.
This will be the most focused week of practice this Wake Forest team will ever have. This is their chance to go deep into the solitude of quiet work behind closed doors with nothing on their minds but fixing mistakes, sharpening their thinking, and rehearsing every single step and block and pass and cut like they never have in their lives.
Plus we know this: Clawson and offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero will huddle in the closed-door sessions to figure out what went wrong with the running component of the delayed run-pass option mesh. They will figure something out by next Saturday. How could you not have faith in these two guys?
From their own brains has sprung one of the most innovative and effective offensive schemes in the history of college football. If there were any two guys who have the brainpower to make an adjustment to this intricate system for an upcoming game, these are those guys.
They will figure something out. They’ve figured out to take a much less talented group of players and make them into a terribly tough team to stop on offense against every team they play. Ruggiero says of his offense that if you don’t have players who are as talented as your opponent you have to do something different. This resulted in the delayed RPO mesh that everybody was talking about.
Throughout this week you can feel confident Ruggiero will think up something different for the more talented Clemson Tigers that they won’t be prepared for and will not have even thought about.
These two coaches are so clever that it wouldn’t surprise me that last night’s game was a game of mental gymnastics that Ruggiero and Clawson ginned up to deliberately not run the ball effectively against Liberty so Clemson watches all that game film and decides to defend Wake the same way, but then Wake makes a switch in the execution of the running plays in the delayed RPO mesh that Clemson did not see on film?
And it won’t surprise me if next Saturday the entire college football world is more than a little surprised at the outcome of next weekend’s game. A humiliating performance against Liberty is just what we needed to get everybody thinking Clemson would pulverize us and put us out of our misery.
But I foresee a different scenario that no one expects. The Deacs will have some tasty menu cooked up that will whet our appetites for a delicious post-game tailgate dessert. All across the sprawling parking lots of Truist Field.
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