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September 12, 2011
Revisiting the 10 keys
1) Did Wake Forest exploit N.C. State's weakness in the middle?
Exploit would not be the right word, but Wake Forest capitalized in its rushing attack between the tackles at pivotal points throughout the game.
Josh Harris put an exclamation point on this category at the 8:35 mark in the third when he fired up the middle and cut it outside for a 15-yard touchdown, giving the Demon Deacons a 27-6 lead, their largest of the game.
After only rushing for 80 yards and no touchdowns on 43 carries against Syracuse the Deacs improved to 101 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries in their win over the Wolfpack. Harris finished with 23 carries for 96 yards and that 15-yard touchdown.
This is an area Wake needs to continue to improve in, but Saturday it showed a little more balance.
2) Were the Demon Deacons successful in the kicking game, and did they cut down on penalties?
After an abysmal performance at Syracuse, where he missed a field goal and an extra point Wake Forest kicker Jimmy Newman was perfect Saturday. Newman went 2-2 on field goals and 4-4 on extra points. He even boomed a kickoff for a touchback.
Alex Wulfeck continues to struggle with his punting. He improved his average a grand total of 2.3 yards, but still 36.8 yards per punt is not very impressive.
Head coach Jim Grobe should be proud of his team when he looks at the box score, and sees that his team only committed four penalties for 42 yards. That is a dramatic change after the Deacs committed 10 for 94 yards in their season opener.
3) How did Tanner Price do against State's secondary?
Aside from his fourth-quarter interception Price was immaculate. He completed 22 of 35 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown. The Texas native spread the ball around, throwing to seven different receivers, three of which had five or more receptions.
His performance was good enough to earn him ACC Player of the Week honors.
4) Did Wake slow down the Wolfpack's rushing attack?
The Pack only carried 26 times for 109 yards, and did not score any points in the ground game. N.C. State did average 4.2 yards per carry, so maybe it should have been more committed to running the football.
In defense of the Deacs they only allowed two rushes of 10 yards or more.
5) Did they stay on track with T.J. Graham?
The Demon Deacons caught a break when Graham's 70-yard punt return was called back because of an illegal block penalty.
Graham pulled in six receptions for 117 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown catch.
Wake Forest must improve on defending big-play guys like Graham.
6) Were the Deacs able to put pressure on Mike Glennon?
Glennon was only hurried once. He was never knocked down or sacked. The redshirt junior had more than enough time to go through his progressions, and make his throws.
Co-defensive coordinators Tim Billings and Brian Knorr need to go back to the drawing board, and figure out some new blitz packages to fool offenses, because Wake is not getting to the quarterback at all.
7) Did Chris Givens get the ball?
State's secondary definitely was keying on Givens, but the junior receiver still managed to catch six passes for 111 yards.
Givens ran great routes, and did an impressive job of creating space between himself and State's defensive backs.
The junior receiver has emerged as one of the ACC's top receivers in the first two weeks of this season.
8) Was Wake Forest able to overcome the Pack's linebacking corps?
Wake's veteran offensive line did a solid job of putting hats on this group, and staying in front of them.
A telling stat would be that not one of the Pack's linebackers made the team's top three in tackles. This is bad for a group with two All-ACC linebackers in Audie Cole and Terrell Manning.
N.C. State's top two tacklers Saturday were defensive backs Earl Wolff (10) and David Amerson (eight).
9) Did the Deacs keep George Bryan in check?
Bryan made three catches for 40 yards and a touchdown, but the big tight end had to work for everything against a Wake Forest defense that was focused on slowing him down.
The 6-foot-6 and 265-pound senior was on the preseason Mackey Award watch-list, but has not looked the part, and the Deacs' defense had something to do with that Saturday.
10) Did they answer the bell?
Wake Forest jumped out early, building its lead up to 21 points in the third quarter.
As Grobe said earlier in the week heading into the N.C. State game they are trying to get the Deacs to realize no lead is big enough. That still has not sunk in, but they have responded to their coach's challenge to be tougher and not fall asleep.
After letting N.C. State cut it from 21 to a seven-point game the defense stiffened when it mattered most, stopping the Wolfpack on fourth and eight at the end as Nikita Whitlock broke up Glennon's pass.