I don’t think it is a mystery that this season is pretty much a wash. Now the coaches and the players aren’t conceding anything yet, but it is going to be an uphill battle from here on out. Sure there is an outside chance of a bowl game. 2-5 is not a death sentence, but they will need to pull out some impressive victories from here on out. With home games against Miami, UNC and road games against NC State and VT, the Hoos will have to pull off some late October/November magic that they showed last year. But first comes a must win game against Wake Forest this Saturday that will anchor this late season push.
Wake Forest History
The Deacs are one of the few teams we face all season that we have a winning record against all time. Virginia is 34-13 against Wake Forest and have won 20 of the last 22. In that stretch the Hoos won all their contests between 1984 and 2000, but thanks to the divisional scheduling in the ACC, we have only faced them 5 times since 2001 and twice since 2004. One of the most impressive victories came in, shocker, 2007, as a late drive by the Cavs and a last second missed FG by Wake gave Virginia a 17-16 victory. But a year later, the Deacons took their revenge on us with a 28-17 win in Winston-Salem.
Wake Forest Now
Wake has had an up and down start to the season as well. They are 3-3 on the season and 1-3 in the ACC. They squeaked by Liberty and UNC to open the season, got destroyed by FSU 52-0, bounced back by beating Army, and then dropped the next two against Duke and Maryland. It might be a game the Hoos can take advantage of as the Deacons might be looking ahead to their matchup with Clemson next Thursday on national TV.
One look at the Wake Forest offense and it might look like a pro set on steroids. They implore a full backfield with a TE, but only one true wide receiver and one ‘flanker’ who is used as a slot guy. Tanner Price is in his 3rd year at the helm and has been serviceable (98/188, 1225 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT). Price is in their to manage the passing attack and not put them behind the 8-ball. Veteran Josh Harris (377, 3 TD) and rookie Deandre Martian (279, 5 TD) lead the 1-2 punch in the backfield, but they only average 123 yards a game on the ground. The receivers and passing game is slightly better, but leading WR Michael Campanaro (429, 3 TD) is out for the game after injuring his hand in the Duke game 3 weeks ago. That just leaves WR Terence Davis (280, 1 TD) and FB Tommy Bohanon (104, 3 TD) the only two players who have a touchdown catch on the season.
Many teams play a hybrid player on the defense. Now in the past week we have seen that player at the ‘joker’ position, which is pretty much a cross between a WLB and a SS. This week we will see a defense that has a ‘lookout’, which is pretty much a OLB in a 3-4 that plays up on the strong side like a DE in the 4-3, and a ‘robber’ which is that WLB/SS split ag. Not that unusual, but a little different. Their defense does allow 31 points per game, but they have the ability to feast-famine at times. The Deacs are lead by ROB Justin Jackson who is 1st in solo tackles (27), total tackles (47), TFLs (4), and sacks (3). Fellow linebackers Mike Olson and Riley Haynes are huge run stoppers as well. In the secondary, keep your eye on FS A.J. Marshall, who seems to be in on every play and already has an interception return for a touchdown.
I could rattle off a laundry list of issues for UVa. I won’t…but I could. It will come down to the ‘Dex’ teams this Saturday. The Hoos fall behind early in games or give up huge lead in most part to secondary and special teams. We basically lose the field position game, give up the passing touchdown and ask our offense to play catch up. Rinse. Repeat. If Virginia is mildly good on defense an special teams, we win this game, but that might be asking a lot this year.