October 1, 2012

Wake Forest vs. Duke: observations

There are negatives and also positives to take away from Wake Forest's (3-2, 1-2 ACC) 34-27 loss to Duke (4-1, 1-0 ACC).

Deacons Illustrated rewinds back to Saturday, Sept. 29 to dissect Wake's nuggets of success and its biggest problems from its first defeat at the hands of Duke in 12 years.

Pros ...

1) Running game

The Demon Deacons have strung together two strong rushing efforts in their last two outings, 296 yards against Army and 167 yards versus Duke.

"I think we're a little better running the football now," Grobe said. "I think we wasted a pretty good opportunity today, because we had a little bit of that mix, a little bit of run, a little bit of throw, especially starting out early, then went a little flat, then started picking it up again."

"I was really disappointed when we were I think after the turnover we got down in their territory we ended up having to kick a field goal there. Going up four there would have been huge for us. Two running plays didn't get us anything, so that was a disappointing part of the game for me. I thought our running game overall was better, but you would like to think you can get two to three yards on a couple of running plays."

Despite Grobe's frustration with the failure to convert a first down at that critical juncture of the game Josh Harris (17 carries for 84 yards) and DeAndre Martin (11 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown) gave brought balance to Wake Forest's rushing attack.

2) Kicking game

After missing his first two field goal attempts earlier this season Jimmy Newman was perfect against the Blue Devils. He made a 45 and 28-yarder, and was successful on all three of his PATs.

3) Terence Davis

Terence Davis rebounded from fumbling at the 14:06 mark of the second quarter, catching a team-high six passes for 100 yards.

Wake will need him to emerge as a reliable target and play-maker while Michael Campanaro is out of the lineup.

Cons …

1) Turnovers

Grobe said it was disappointing that a couple of the turnovers came when the game was on the line. The Deacs gave Duke a short field twice in the fourth quarter, a fumble and later an interception-thrown both by Price, resulting in 14 points for the Blue Devils.

Wake Forest's four turnovers are the most it has had since last season's 49-24 loss at North Carolina when the Demon Deacons gave it away five times to the Tar Heels.

2) Campanaro's injury

The Deacs maybe their best player and most valuable aside from Price when Michael Campanaro broke his hand in the first quarter.

"I've always experienced it when somebody goes down usually somebody else steps up and hopefully here over the next few weeks we'll have some guys that get more repetitions and we'll develop some go-to-guys, but certainly from everybody's perspective we don't like seeing Camp hurt," Grobe said.

"He's a really good player and even better kid, so it was really disappointing when he got hurt. He'll be out for a while. It's about the only position you have to be able to use your hands. You could have casted him up if he was a defensive lineman or linebacker, but as a receiver we got to get him fixed up and healed, so it will be a while."

Campanaro tweeted he will be out for four weeks; three at the least.

Going into the game Campanaro was the ACC's leading receiver with 36 receptions for 421 yards and three touchdowns.

"The thing that you saw is that you got to catch the football," Grobe said. "We had a lot of opportunities to catch the ball and didn't do that. He's always been a money guy for us. When you throw him the ball very rarely does that guy ever drop the football, so whether it's a possession receiver you're talking about or an intermediate of deep ball guy you just need to catch the football."

"We'll see as we go forward. Somebody's got to develop and hopefully more than one guy."

3) Third-and-longs

Wake struggled to defend the pass on third-and-long situations. The Demon Deacons allowed a 35-yard pass from Sean Renfree to Desmond Scott on third-and-26 that set up Brandon Connette's two-yard touchdown run. Renfree and Scott connected again on a third-and-19 with a 19-yard pass to keep a drive alive that culminated with a four-yard touchdown run by Connette. The tandem nearly made it happen a third time on a third-and-18, but came up a yard short.

"We just didn't make enough plays I feel like we fought, but we just didn't make enough plays in the end," Wake Forest defensive end Zach Thompson said. "It's hard, but you can't place blame, because then you fall apart. I feel like we fought. We're not pointing fingers."

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